Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Loving on Miss Una

Sweet, sweet Miss Una, my mother-in-law. Quiet as a church mouse and with a shy smile that warms up a room.

Until you make her angry.

I'm thankful to have always been on the her good side. She can kiss-teeth like nobody's business, swing a furious switch at a wayward yard dog and let out a low bellow that will rattle the windows when she sees one pickney misbehave. For such a tiny woman, she can make a big noise.

But she's always turned those soulful eyes on me with love and kindness. As her first daughter-in-law, and the bearer of her first grandchildren, sweet Miss Una has always had a soft spot for me, and me for her. She never asks for a thing to be brought down to the yard 'fram farrin' unless I prod her -- what do you need, Una? What can we bring you?

She'll shrug and smile, never asking for anything bigger than a breadbox. An iron fi press 'im clothes, perhaps, or one nice new church hat. She telephoned me last night and wished me a belated Happy Mother's Day. Our daughters had sent hand-made cards and a small package down as a gift for her on a day that few in her yard remember to commemorate. She'd forgotten all about it herself.

"What do you need, Una? What can we bring you when we come?"

She was silent for a moment and then said, "Mi wan one white dress fi go a weddings and one black dress fi go a funerals." That made me smile. Some folks in yard present a wish list of luxury items when they hear we are coming down. But not Miss Una. A simple outfit for beginnings and endings is all she needs, a more-than-practical wardrobe request.

And because she asks for so little, while needing so much, we have begun to build her a small block house in the yard. It's time to provide her with more comfort in her senior years. Finding the funds has been tough and even driven some to less-than-savory methods to make it happen (naughty, naughty bwoy!). But we'll find a way. Musst!

Life has been hard on sweet Miss Una. It has hardly ever been sweet.

Too many children when she was barely older than a child herself. And never a decent man around to share the heavy load. It has made her tough without making her hard.

Over the years, Miss Una has always had good advice when her times were rough, "jess laff it ahf, Miss Vic, mi jess laff it ahf". Whether it was having to bail one bad bwoy son outta jail or settling a simple family feud over missing cutlery and dishes, Miss Una might scowl at first but then she would indeed laff it ahf, jess laff it ahf.

Thanks for the love and the laffs, Miss Una.................


zan said...

beautiful painting
beautiful woman
beautiful family
beautiful story


Anonymous said...

Absolutely beautiful Vic! A lovely tribute to Ms. Uma. I'll always remember when we had dinner with her at her board house and she couldn't stop caressing my hair saying "it's so soft"!

Love to you.

Melanie said...

Very beautiful story and woman.

Kat Mc said...

Oh Vic I just love that piece, love it. I will never forget 'Aunty Una's' face when Hilary left her some flip-flops one year...priceless...