For weeks her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren have tenderly cared for Big Mama. Can there be any deeper testimony for a life well lived? During these weeks, I have been here in Alabama, caring for my grandson and mother. I can hear Big Mama say: “Well, honey, that’s what you are supposed to do.” Big Mama loved children.
And for these weeks, my process of grief has blocked me from writing. Busy time, but mostly so much feeling dammed up. Now it comes in a flood. Grief, yes, but I have an enormous gratitude that I should have been able to know her and be loved by her, and love her in return. She, my father-in-law, and my two sisters-in-law took me into their hearts and family. I remember one time that my husband and I came close to divorce. I went home to Big Mama and Pa. Today I sometimes look at my husband and smile, and say, “We have become your parents.” He will nod and smile, too.
My abiding value of family is expressed in my books. For my character of Vella Blaine, I drew heavily on Big Mama, but this morning, I suddenly realize that she was the model very much for Winston Valentine.
Big Mama, I love you.