Mom in wagon without hat, maybe Dutch standing beside her, Mema in big hat
At age four, Mom picked up an axe standing beside the doorstep; the axe slipped and cut her leg very badly. She screamed and Mema (her mother) came running. Mema screamed and Mary came running. Mary was the black woman who “helped out”. Mary somehow got her husband Dutch and they took care of Mom’s leg. I don’t know if they took her to the doctor or whether they just bandaged it themselves. But, I do know that Dutch took care of it!
When I was about nine, I remember seeing Mom in her mid-forties visiting Mary, who took Mom into her lap and rocked her on the porch of her weathered frame house near the cotton fields and the swamp in the Mississippi delta near Jonestown. Mom was so comforted and looked so peaceful. Maybe that was the last time I saw her look peaceful and comforted. She knew Mary was taking care of her.
When Mom talked about her childhood, she talked more about Dutch and Mary than about her own parents. Dutch was often the babysitter at night. She said he would sit in the living room and watch her do her homework at the kitchen table, reflected in the mirror above the fireplace. Dutch wore glasses, little round glasses that sat on the end of his nose, and he’d tilt his head, look over the glasses and say, “Now, Miss Lucille, you don’t look to me like you’re working on that math.”
When Mom told “Dutch and Mary” stories, her eyes would get teary, and her laughter was soft. We had no doubt that the love she felt for them was reciprocated many times over. They taught her; they reproved her; they loved her.
Today, I am comforted by Mary and Dutch. Their love spills over into my life, Mom dead six years and them gone many years ago. They would have loved me just as they loved my mother, and somehow, I believe they do.
I suppose God’s love is made tangible through the many “Mary and Dutch” people we know in our lives.