the mamaw gene

My maternal grandfather’s mother, known to the grand kids as mamaw, was a fiesty, independent, take no prisoners kind of lady. She took trips around the world by herself when women weren’t supposed to leave the house without a man. She and her friends did as they saw fit, thank you very much, and too bad for you if you couldn’t keep up. I wish I had known this women better, but she passed when I was very young. The stories that my Gammy tells me of Mamaw are some of my absolute favorite. I remember one phone call with Gammy last year filled with Mamaw stories that brought me to tears. I hung up the phone crying when our conversation was over because I felt this incredibly deep, spiritual connection to this woman that I never really got to know. It was as if someone suspended time so that Mamaw and I could reach through space to  look at each other and say, “Hey, I know you.” I know that her blood, her life, her spirit are part of me. Sometimes, it completely overwhelms me.

My favorite Mamaw stories are when she was traveling. I need to write them all down, so I never forget all the Mamaw adventures that have been passed down. I get why she loved to travel so much. There is this compelling, insatiable urge that is too strong to ignore and too heavy to shake off, and feels as natural as the need to breathe or eat. It’s the undeniable urge to GO. To be on the road. To see the world. To sit down with new people and hear their stories. To taste new flavors. To smell unfamiliar cities. To go where the wind blows. We call it the Mamaw Gene, and boy do I have it.

Between Mamaw and my father, there was no way I was ever going to be a homebody. For as long as I can remember, my dad has traveled for work and, as often as he could, he’s taken us with him. Until the past couple of years, I’d almost always been on the road in some capacity. For now, with full-time work in Nashville, I’m only able to satisfy the call of the Mamaw Gene with occasional weekend trips. This weekend, I’m headed to Seattle to eat crab legs, study blown glass, taste the best mac n’ cheese in the world (and I really mean that this time), ride a ferry across the bay, look out at the mountains and back across the ocean, and soak up as much jazz, wine, and good company as I can stand. Mamaw would love this trip. I have this sneaky feeling that she’ll probably be with me.



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