thinking between the lines

Saturdays with Mama

Because I am loath to journey forward,

I find myself looking back for strength.

One place I find myself visiting more and more

Is Saturday mornings with Mama.


Those mornings always started early, not so early as on a school day,

But early enough as not to waste the day away.

For me, it began with the sound of music, Mama’s music,

Filling every room in the house like spring air through open windows.


Make-you-smile songs like Sammy Davis Jr.’s “The Candy Man”

And Ray Stevens’s “Everything Is Beautiful”

Slipped into Elvis’s “In the Ghetto,”

And Tom Jones’s “She’s a Lady.”


Saturday’s repertoire also included Charlie Rich and James Brown,

Mac Davis and Roberta Flack, Ray Charles and James Taylor.

I didn’t know it then, but Saturdays with Mama, especially the music,

Opened a larger world to me—a world of difference.


In that big world, people walked lives unimaginable to me.

Their words, their music, exposed truths beyond my experience.

Even when I couldn’t grasp everything laced in and through the lyrics,

I knew the songs were powerful, strong enough to bend and shape.


At seven, I knew the weight of Helen Reddy’s “I Am Woman”

And the subdued sadness of “Valley of the Dolls.”

Perhaps the strongest song for me, however,

Was “Everything Is Beautiful.”


Everything is beautiful

In its own way

Like a starry summer night

On a snow-covered winter’s day


There is none so blind

As he who will not see

We must not close our minds

We must let our thoughts be free


We shouldn’t care about the length of his hair

Or the color of his skin

Don’t worry about what shows from without

But the love that lives within


Everything is beautiful

In its own way


To this day, my ringtone for Mama is “Everything Is Beautiful.”

When she texts or calls, the past rushes into the present,

And I’m reminded there is no one more beautiful than she,

The woman who taught me what beauty – the eternal kind – truly is.


Casting my eyes ahead, I see the path none of us want to take,

The loss at its end seems unfathomable in this moment,

But what Mama instilled in us – even on those simple Saturday mornings –

Is an eternal spring pouring from her heart into ours.


Today, we draw from that same spring of life-water

To replenish your heart, Mama, with the knowledge of our love.

As we do, we can’t help but recognize, to know in our own hearts,

It is your strength in us from which we draw.


Your strength in us, our strength in you…

Is there anything more beautiful?


Love you so much,


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