Mimi........everyone should have a Mimi. If you've never known a true life "Southern Genteel Belle" and have always wanted to know one.....you should meet Mimi.
Mimi "to most everyone else" and Mom "to me" spent the second half of her life married to Ed Dozier "Pee Paw" who I wrote about a couple weeks back. There's so much about her that I've picked up along the way by just paying attention. She doesn't like to talk about herself much, particularly her past. What little I think I know about her I've just picked up by conjecture and a fair amount of "reckoning". The biggest challenge as I sit to talk about her is not which words to choose first, but which words should follow. She's first a New Testament Christian Woman.....having said that I must include Survivor, Believer, Mother, Wife, Encourager, Challenger, Worker...I could use up the dictionary, but before I get carried away try to remember; I'm going to have to qualify each one with a description.
Remember as I write, most of this is sheer observation and a keen ear. Some of it may be dead wrong, but I don't think it is. Mimi "is" what she has "lived". Survivor of a difficult marriage with a traumatic ending, Mimi held herself and three kids together out of sheer dogged guts. Later she would even survive Ed Dozier. She and Peep would eventually meet, marry and combine forces to raise a real life Brady Bunch of 7-9 kids depending on how you figure it.....that's a story for another day. She would ultimately survive the greatest fight. One for her own life. Not even cancer could beat her. I watched her dwindle to a shell, rally and win. She managed that fight even as Ed lost his. How does someone have the courage to endure chemo treatments and cling to a dying husband's bedside at the same time? I've only seen that tragedy play out one other time in my life..... my own Mother and Dad. My Mother would ultimately lose her battle....Mimi stood at the edge and never flinched. Only someone who has endured Chemo can really appreciate that fight. She won. And she fought only as someone with a courage born in faith can fight.
She's the matron of a large extended family that is now spread out all over Florida. Tilena is headed up there tonight to spend a couple of days with her. Those two are an awful lot alike in some ways. They both look like they just stepped off the cover of Vogue magazine any time of day. Mimi has a nature of encouragement. She believes the best in everyone in action and intent. Somehow you will always find yourself talking about "you" and your own achievements and seldom about her. In twenty minutes she can convince you that you're able to do anything. She is an unparalleled motivator and mentor. In spite of her generous and gentle spirit though, there seems to me to be a cautious undercurrent. The sort of unconscious wariness you see in someone who has been terribly hurt at some point in the past and has made a conscious decision to never be hurt again. I can't imagine anyone would ever want to hurt this lady, but I am almost certain somewhere, sometime she has endured great pain. Maybe disappointment is a better word. I also think she will probably always bear that alone. She is strong enough to bear it alone whatever it is. Although she is not quite as strong as she wants everyone else to believe.
She has a true way with kids. Whether out of self defense because of the vast number of children and grandchildren or simply a Gift from God I don't know. But I do know this.... She can walk into a preschool at recess and have them all lined up and saying grace in 45 seconds. It's almost eerie to watch your own kids interact with her. What looks to be an uprising on the reservation one minute, looks like a sunday school room as soon as she walks up. She simply connects with kids.
Mimi has held a job most of her life that insists she shows a favor to pink. But I think she privately prefers yellow. Not that that is an important point, I just think its true. She is at home in a Grand Ball room, but she prefers sitting on the floor playing board games with the grand kids. She is a tall, attractive and elegant woman with an unusual grace about her. I've never seen her dance or even talk about it, but I bet she can do it well. Although her hands are slim, soft, manicured and jeweled today, I get the sense they were calloused, cracked and worn at some point in her life. She just gives the sense of someone who has seen enough hard times to truly appreciate what God has blessed her with. I think there are things she still wants to do, but I admire the loyalty that binds her to the life she lives today. She has a warm and lilting laugh. I've just not heard it nearly as much as I would like to. I look at her and still see the caution and hesitation deep in her heart.....I don't know for sure why, but I do suspect. I know too she will never give in to it. She will win that fight too.
I would really like to know all that's on her mind one day. I'll bet there are some stories yet to be told, scars that never really healed and dreams yet to be revealed. I don't get to see her much anymore and I'm sorry for that. I know one day I'll regret it. She's really something. Knowing and loving her....being loved by her is one of God's great gifts. I consider it a blessing to be a part of her life. There's nobody quite like Mimi.