They buried her Monday afternoon. The preacher was one of Madge’s long-time friends. He had known her for years. Madge was the kind of person he liked to have in his church. She was there every Sunday, even if the rest of the world had the flu. He bragged on her. He talked about how much love she had for others.
Madge was eighty-six when her heart gave out.
She had been baking a cake to take to the nursing home on Monday.
“Checking on the old people.” She would say.
He didn’t know half the story.
She was the baby. Born to a family that had already lost a daughter. Her Mom died before Madge was three months old. Her Dad died in a sawmill accident when she was three years old. There were two older brothers. The oldest was seven.
The judge said they’d be split up. There was an orphanage. IF they got lucky, someone would adopt them.
The Grandmother stood up and said “No! Give them to me. I’ll raise them, I’ll take care of them. You won’t split up those three.”
They had more than luck on their side.
The grandmother was already keeping her son, shell-shocked from World War I. The poison gas, the machine guns, the trenches and the battles, he never forgot. He never escaped the Hell he knew.
She was his mother. Cooked his meals, took care of him every day. Loved him only as a Mother can. Now, she wanted her three grandchildren. The year was 1934. Hard got harder.
The judge didn’t argue with the feisty, little sixty-year old grandmother.
There was no money. They shared everything. But, they had each other. And Grandma.
The sheriff tried to keep Lamar and Gillis straight. Grandma kept her arms around Madge. She taught all three of them to love and laugh.
I saw the love, but I remember the laughter. Loud, easy, earnest. From the heart.
They were strong enough to laugh at the hard times and the bad times. Not too many good times where they grew up in Louisiana.
Madge had a big family. The preacher said there were ten grandchildren, nineteen great grandchildren and then five more great-great grandchildren. They filled up five rows in the church. Her granddaughters were the pallbearers.
She loved them all. They knew the love in her heart.
And, she knew others needed some love also. She knew she could share. She worked twenty years in a children’s home. Taking care of kids who started life much worse then she had ever known. She gave them her time and her love, wanting nothing more than a smile.
The preacher said she baked a cake the day she died. It was what she did. Every weekend, she baked cakes and pies. She delivered them to the nursing homes on Monday. For the old folks she would say.
Again, giving her love to those that needed it.
Madge left a lot more than the last cake she baked.
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