She had legs as long as her cars (she always drove a Lincoln or a Ford). She loved cigarettes and an evening toddy. She never went to college, but she was sharp as a tack. She was good with money, and she wanted me to be able to take care of myself. She loved to dance, and she loved to have fun.
Every summer she would take me to an expensive swimsuit store in Gulf Shores and let me pick out whatever swimsuit I wanted, sometimes two. On her back porch, we sat together and shucked corn, shelled peas, and snapped beans. She loved my brother and me so much that she put an in-ground pool in her backyard and kept it crystal clean. She could call me out on my smart mouth or eye rolls in a hot second, and I will admit, I did not want to cross her.
She and her third husband drove to see us in their RV which was the absolute coolest thing my friends and I had ever seen. No one in small-town Kentucky had an RV. One summer she flew a friend and me down to see her and we were able to fly without an adult. We thought we were movie stars!
I was only thirteen when she was diagnosed with lung cancer and died 3 months later. When I went to “say goodbye” before she died, she told me to only cry 2 tears for her. She told me she had known love and loss and had a fulfilling career and raised her babies and got to meet her grandbabies. She told me she had traveled and had fun and danced weekly at the local spot. She had run a business and built a home (like literally picked out the plans which not all people get to do in their lifetime) and that she was okay to go.
I had not known anything she had known at that time. No romantic love or loss (she was the first person I really lost as a child and boy was it a whammy!). No career or babies or grandbabies. No travel or weekly dance dates with my husband or businesses run or houses built. I sit here today, and I’ve done almost all of those things now. Because of her, I’ve even saved a dollar or two. Because of her, I laugh more, sing more, dance more, and love more. I forgive easier and dream more.
Maya Angelou is famous for saying we don’t forget how people make us feel. Martha Louise Merrigan Taylor Rouse Taylor (yes, you read that right, she married 2 different Taylors of no relation) made me feel like I was special and important. When I was with her, I felt loved and cherished. Not perfect, she never let me think that, but close.