Tag Archives: mama

Murphy Henry

Last weekend my four sisters and I met, once again, in our old home place in Clarkesville, Ga., to finish cleaning out our parents’ house which is being sold. We had already had two divvying-ups of large furniture and some sentimental items, but there were still the precious old toys, baby clothes, books, picture albums, one-of-a-kind framed pictures, kitchenware, towels, quilts, Bibles, and Daddy’s Navy trunks to sort through and divide up. Along with boxes and boxes of papers. Mama and Daddy weren’t really pack rats, but living in the same house for over 60 years does result in quite an an accumulation of stuff.

One of the things we found was a “story” Mama wrote back in 1986, right before youngest sister Laurie was graduating from Medical School. I guess that event moved Mama to write down some of her “fav-o-rite” memories (as Merle Haggard said). The writing itself was so good, that I wanted to share the first part with you. If there is interest, perhaps I will post some more. Thanks for letting me share this with you.

Basic family outline: Five sisters, born two years apart. No brothers. I’m the oldest. Daddy was a small-town doctor, Mama was a stay-at-home Mom.

. . . . .


I Sat in the Garden

I sat in the garden
that has changed from dirt to grass to pebbles to flagstone
but still retains THE TREE
And saw the old picnic table
where so many food feasts occurred
from watermelon to cool aid and cookies
to real planned picnics with all the trimmings
The table grew old and deteriorated
But you grew strong and bright and beautiful
The treasured plants in the Hicks garden

Closing my eyes and letting memory run rampant
I saw other young plants that we loved and,
I hope, helped to nurture; Sharon, Melba, Bill,
Linda, Claudia, Becky, Mike, Danny, and another
Mike, Barbara, Bucky, Brad, Mark, Brian, Anne, Joe. And others like Gail and Martha, not often in this garden, because they were older....and Machelle and James, not often here because they were younger. They and their parents helped us nurture you. GOOD NEIGHBORS.

I wanted to write this down, so I went into the house for pen and paper.
I found them easily....exactly where I’d left them.
There are few pluses to a big empty house –and
I intend to accentuate the positive. Finding things where you left them is one of the pluses.

I have just finished setting out some plants.
I don’t have to find a plant apiece and a shovel apiece because this activity had suddenly become the focus of activity of five lively persons. I didn’t
have to guide the digging of five holes, the introduction of five plants into those holes, nor the putting and patting of soil back into the five plant beds.
I just planted and watered my plants.

I looked around the garden and it was littered with sticks, a few leaves, and a lot of those oak tree droppings that we refer to as “worms.”
and I suddenly envisioned a scene that was repeated so many times.
I am sweeping the garden and MANY decide to help.
I stop and find brooms: one toy broom that nobody really wants, two or three brooms that I cut off and make short from old brooms (and these will be kept and used later). Because my broom sweeps so well everybody wants it. I explain that we will take turns with my broom, and suddenly everybody is busy. I try to designate places and directions for sweeping, but everyone has her own idea about how to sweep a garden. There is much fun and flurry and excitement – and no progress! And soon you wander off and I am left to sweep the garden.
And if I occasionally get aggravated and yell, more times I acknowledge and affirm within my own heart that every effort and ounce of energy it take to organize and oversee and have fizzle out a job of this kind, it is worth it, and that I am, literally, enjoying every minute of it.



Murphy Henry

As Tex Logan so aptly put it in his classic song, “Christmas time’s a-coming and I know I’m going home.” And today Red and Christopher and I will indeed be heading down to Georgia to spend Christmas with my dad. Casey will drive down on Christmas Eve so we’ll all be together. And that’s a good thing because this will be our first Christmas ever without Mama. I know it’s gonna be hard.

Christmas Tree

The Henry Family Christmas Tree

Mama really got into Christmas and one of the things she did was bake this amazing pound cake which she then iced with white frosting and decorated with a concoction of corn flakes and green food coloring held together with melted butter and marshmallows which, when spread on the edges of the cake, looked like a holly wreath. Especially when she added red-hot cinnamon candies for berries. She not only baked one for us, but she baked one for numerous people in her church and community. I wish I had a picture to show you. It was gorgeous.

But the pound cake we all really remember the best is the one that fell! Mama took it out of the oven and plop! Down went the cake, imploding in on itself while still in the pan. Well, Mama was raised in the Depression and she never, ever let food go to waste! Quick as greased lightning she whipped up a confectioners sugar icing, spooned the cake into bowls, poured the icing over the still-warm cake and handed us spoons. Yummy! It was the Best Cake Ever!

One other Christmas Mama story. When we were kids, Mama and Daddy would take the five of us girls to Rich’s department store in Atlanta to see Santa Claus. This was a Very Big Deal because Atlanta was a two-hour drive from Clarkesville back then. We always went on a Thursday (Daddy’s day off from doctoring), we got out of school just after lunch for this Special Occasion, and we always had to wear Good Clothes. Which meant dresses. No pants. Yuck.

So one year Mama had made us these little black flannel cowgirl skirts with little flannel boots, and guns, and cowboys hats stitched onto them. They probably had red fringe, too, but I couldn’t swear to that. I think there were only four of us that year, Laurie not being born yet, so that meant I was six, Claire was four, Argen was two, and Nancy was seven months and in a stroller.

Can you imagine transporting four little girls for two hours in a car to a Big City and then getting out—with an old-fashioned clunky stroller—and herding us all into a gigantic department store? With escalators? To say the least, Mama was a little frazzled. Even though Daddy had done the driving and was there to help.

Three cute little girls all dressed alike in flannel skirts attracted some amount of attention. So when a lady came up to us and teasingly asked Mama, “Where’s YOUR skirt?” all she meant was “Where is your matching flannel skirt?” Mama, however, had a moment of shear panic as for several long seconds she was absolutely sure she had failed to put a skirt on at all and was standing in Rich’s Department Store in her slip! Fortunately, being a Steel Magnolia, she rallied, realized the woman was just joshing, and made some chatty remarks. But that is a story that went down in Family History. I even put it in a song. (Unrecorded as of yet.)

We’ll all sure be thinking of Mama this Christmas. Thanks for letting me share these memories with you. It helps.
Hope all your Holiday celebrations are wonderful.

Murphy Henry

I think if I post just one more blog about Mama I can then move on to more banjo related subjects. Thanks for your understanding.

This is a poem my niece Natalie wrote about Mama, her grandmother. (Natalie is the younger sister of Caroline whose essay about Mama I posted earlier.) Nat wrote this last year when she was a junior in high school. I thought it was so poignant and so well written. I have taken the liberty of adding a title.

I Will Still Remember You

When I was little
You sang me to sleep
Every night the same songs
Now I’m the one
Singing to you
You don’t remember
Those precious lyrics anymore

These days I read to you
Not the other way around
But when the story’s over
You don’t remember how it began

Our old favorite card games
Are painful to play
I used to cry
Because I could never beat you
Now you have no clue what to do
With those cards in your hands

You used to make
The most delicious cakes
You must have made
A million or more
Now a recipe you once
Knew by heart
You have forgotten

Every time we sat down to eat
You prayed YOUR prayer
Now you stumble and forget
Those once familiar words

You don’t remember that
You’ve lived in this house
For over 50 years
You pack your bags
And ask to go home
But you are home!
Don’t you remember?
I spent my childhood here
I remember.

You’re growing younger everyday,
While I’m growing up
Watching your memory fade.
Will you forget my name
As easily as you forgot
These things of my childhood?

But if you do
I won’t be mad.
For I will still
Remember you.

- Natalie Pate, 2009

Murphy Henry

First of all, thank you all for the expressions of sympathy you have offered to me since Mama died. I can’t tell you how much it meant when you were placing orders by phone just to have you say, “I’m sorry to hear about your mother.”  And the cards and the emails have all meant so much. I hope to be back to regular blogging before long, but I still need to share some more thoughts about Mama. Losing her has been so hard. Thanks for your understanding.

The following is an essay my niece Caroline, daughter of my sister Nancy, wrote about Mama, her grandmother. She wrote it last year, her senior year in high school. It was so poignant we asked her to read it at Mama’s funeral, and she did. I thought it captured a lot about Mama and about our family. And also says a lot about the wonderful young woman Caroline is growing up to be.

My Grandmother

By Caroline Pate

My grandmother is one of the sweetest people I know. So when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it came as a great shock to me. I found myself pushing away my extended family that I was once so close to. But it took my grandmother’s wise words to show me that even if the disease had changed our family, we needed to stick together for better or worse.

My grandmother- known as “Gaga” by my family- is like a storybook grandmother, a living reproduction of Mrs. Santa Claus. When I was young, my sister and I would stay at her house every other few weekends, and those visits were a treat. When we first arrived, we would rush to our beds to find the “bed presents” Gaga had left us. Priceless dollar store toys nestled under our pillows, a magnificent surprise. Then we would come to the dinner table to have the finest cuisine in the North Georgia Mountains laid before us. We would feast upon friend chicken and okra, corn pudding, and for desert, Gaga’s famous pound cake- all homemade. The next morning, we would wake up early to cruise yard sales and spoiled by my grandmother with previously owned treasures.

But my favorite memories are when my mother’s tight knit family was together. With my grandmother’s five daughters and seven grandchildren, the house was a bustling, happy mess. Gaga would be in the kitchen, while my mom and aunts would be playing bluegrass in the living room. My cousins and I were left to play. When we got older some of us went to play music and sing with our aunts. I loved watching my grandma close her eyes, the corners crinkling into a smile, and hearing her contented little chuckle when I would sing with my mother and sister. Eventually, all of us would sit down at the table to a big meal. Afterwards, the younger cousins would cajole some of our relatives into playing pinochle, the card game that our family had manipulated the rules for our own use and passed down for generations.

When Gaga was diagnosed, everything changed. We could no longer go on our family beach trips, because she would forget where she was. My mother had to take her keys away, which was an ordeal in itself.  But with Alzheimer’s, every thing is déjà vu. My grandmother would forget her keys were taken away and think she had lost them. Someone would tell her she could not drive anymore and she would call my mother, angry. She could no longer even cook- she would forget her dishes were in the oven and they would burn. She even forgot how to play pinochle. Eventually, visiting became less of a vacation and more of a chore. My grandparent’s activities were deduced to watching television and napping. It scared me to watch them become shells of the people they had once been, and it scared me even more to know that all of our memories would be forgotten, that even I would be forgotten. I hated that weren’t even family anymore- we were “caretakers”.

One night when I was in my room, the book I was reading suddenly reminded me of my grandmother. From the shelf above my bed, I pulled down a small wooden frame that my grandmother had given me one Christmas. I had almost forgotten about it. I opened up the back, and inside was a note that read:


When I was a girl in the Mt. Creek Baptist Church, I heard a preacher pray this prayer. I thought it was beautiful. It inspired me. I appropriated it for my own. I began praying it for myself...every day.

When the girls came along, I began praying it for them, and when you came along, I began praying it for you.

I may have missed a day or two praying this prayer, but some days I prayed it for you many times. I’m sure I’ve averaged praying this prayer for you once a day for all of your life.

And. I’ll continue to pray it for you every day for as long as I can pray...because I love you. Gaga

I then realized that because she had forgotten, I had to remember. Because our family could never be the same, now we needed to be together more than ever- just in a different way. Our family had gone through many hard times, but we needed to still be there for each other, like she was for us, every day. Pray for each other like she did for us, every day. Because she may have forgotten the prayer now, but I will never forget those words she framed for me:

Dear Father,

Help Caroline in the early morning of her life to catch hold of the things that of true and lasting value and pursue those things with great joy and enthusiasm.

Create the mix of circumstances that will bring about Your perfect will in her life.

In Jesus’ name I pray,


(Mama gave a framed copy of the prayer Caroline talks about to each of her grandchildren. She was truly, as her preacher said at her service, a prayer warrior.)

Many of you may be familiar with this song, which Murphy wrote years ago and performed regularly on stage as part of the Red and Murphy set. This is the recording we made of it, I think from the first Red and Murphy and Their Excellent Children album. Murphy on banjo and lead vocal, Red on mandolin and baritone vocal, Casey on bass and tenor vocal, Chris on guitar. (Click on the title to listen.)

When My Mama Sang To Me

Murphy Henry

As some of you already know, on Friday, July 16, I lost my dear sweet Mama. Or as I called her “my little Mama Pajama.” She had had Alzheimer’s for several years but it was finally her congestive heart failure that took her. She was 85. Her death was not unexpected, but still these first weeks without her have been hard. Who is ever prepared to lose their mother?

Wynk Hicks (aka Mama, aka Grandmother) and Casey Henry. October 2008

Wynk Hicks (aka Mama, aka Grandmother) and Casey Henry. October 2008

As Fate would have it, my sisters and I and many of the nieces and nephews had already planned to be in Georgia that weekend for our annual Hiawassee picking party. We had known all week that Mama had been struggling with shortness of breath but she’d weathered so many storms in the last few years (including a heart attack) that we thought it entirely possible she would pull through again. One of the Greatest Generation, she was made of stern stuff. My sister Nancy, who was having her week-long summer visit with the parents, did a wonderful job of keeping us apprised of Mama’s condition, but neither she nor the Hospice nurse nor any of our round-the-clock caregivers had any idea that Thursday would be Mama’s last night.

The story of that last night, as it was told and retold during the weekend of the funeral, was filled with meaning. Mama, who for once was resting in bed, asked for the preacher. Nancy called him but he didn’t get the message. So Nancy and my sister Claire, who was there for the night, went back to the bedroom and read from the Bible, sang some songs, and had a prayer with her. Then Nancy asked Mama if she wanted to say a prayer. Mama said she did. And Nancy said it was as if her Alzheimer’s didn’t exist—she prayed a long, eloquent prayer as we had her do in church so many times before. Then Mama asked, “What’s the game plan for tomorrow?” Claire said, “What do you mean?” And Mama replied, “Tomorrow’s going to be a Big Day.” Still, at the time, we just didn’t know.

Our wonderful round-the-clock help, Rita and then Karen, each sat by Mama’s bed for a long time that evening and both later told us some of the things that Mama said. She looked for a long time at the big picture of us—her five daughters--that hangs on the wall near her bed and talked  about us. Mama said, “I’ve got doctors, and I’ve got teachers.” (And as I’m hearing the story I’m thinking, “What about me?”) And then Mama said, “And I’ve got musicians. Lots of musicians.” And she went on to say how proud she was of all of us and that we had “done a good job.” I felt like we had received her blessing.

She also told Rita that tomorrow she and her girls would be “stepping on the soil.” At the time, Rita thought that she might be referring to Heaven. But later Rita told us that she’d found out that “stepping on the soil” was an old country expression that referred to digging a grave and the soil was the earth which was thrown out onto the ground. (Have any of you heard that?)

Mama slept pretty well that night, with Karen close at hand, and early the next morning, Claire, who is one of the doctors, thought Mama was doing well enough for her to go back home to her work in Asheville, N.C. But when Nancy checked on Mama around 7 a.m. her breathing had taken a turn for the worse. Rita, bless her sweet heart, had had a bad feeling and had come to the house even though it wasn’t her shift. When she saw Mama she immediately called the preacher, the Hospice nurse, and Mama’s own doctor and said, “You better come now.” And they did.

Red and I had just about finished packing the car for the trip down and he had gone to gas up when Nancy called to say that Mama would probably die that morning. I, of course, burst into tears. Nancy, who handled this entire experience with unbelievable poise and grace, had the presence of mind to ask me if I’d like to say goodbye to Mama on the phone Oh, yes! So Nancy held the phone up to her ear and I told Mama I loved her and would miss her every day of my life. She could not respond, but I believe she heard me. What a blessing that was.

As we left the house, I grabbed some photo albums and pictures of Mama to have for the trip. And that was a good thing because we had not been on the road long when Nancy called to say that Mama had died. It was 9:10 a.m. I could hardly talk as I called Casey and Chris to tell them that their dear grandmother had passed away. Chris was coming to Georgia anyway for the picking party, but Casey was in Michigan performing with the Dixie Bee-liners who graciously finished up their gigs without a banjo player so she could fly down to Georgia. I wished so much that I could be with each of them. It was a long, sad trip home with many tears. I was so glad to have Red there, doing the driving and holding my hand when I would start crying. I talked to my sister Laurie many times both to give comfort and to receive it. She is the youngest of us (and is also a doctor), and I always thought she was Mama’s favorite. (Although I’m sure Mama would deny having a favorite.)

Once we arrived in Clarkesville, there were more tears but there were also sisters and nieces and friends and flowers, and, yes, church ladies bringing food. Together we five girls planned Mama’s funeral service. We even managed to get a good laugh remembering Mama’s instructions about picking out her casket. She’d told us, “Price the least expensive casket, then price the most expensive casket. Then buy the cheapest one and give the difference to the church.” We couldn’t quite bring ourselves to buy the pine box, but followed the spirit of her wishes as best we could.

I’d always imagined, as the oldest daughter, that I would speak at Mama’s funeral, but I found that I could not. Instead, four of the grandchildren took part in the service. Chris spoke extemporaneously about his beloved grandmother and Casey played the song Mama always sang us to sleep with, “There’s A Little Cabin,” on the banjo. Then, as Mama had requested, our Texas cousins sang “Now I Belong To Jesus” as she left the Clarkesville Baptist Church for the last time.

At the graveside service after a prayer and a poem, the preacher read a portion of one of my blogs about Mama and me playing Scrabble. It felt good to remember those happy times, and even smile a little, in the midst of so much grief.

I miss Mama so much but writing this, knowing you will read it, has helped me a lot. Thank you for listening.

Winnie Claire Murphy Hicks

January 21, 1925-July 16, 2010

Casey Henry

Last week I posted a video of me playing "There's A Little Cabin," a lullaby that my Grandmother used to sing to us when we were small. Many of you asked about the words. Grandmother passed away last Friday and I played that arrangement at her funeral, which was really a beautiful service, held at the Clarkesville Baptist Church where she was a member. It still smelled exactly the same as when my brother and I used to attend with her when we stayed in Clarkesville when we were little. We sometimes went to vacation bible school there. I still remember playing Red Rover on the church lawn.

This tune was the last thing in the service, right before the closing hymn, "Now I Belong to Jesus." I'm glad I didn't have to try and sing it. As it was my nose was dripping while I was playing. At least no one seems to have noticed that.

So in remembrance of Grandmother, here are the words we so frequently heard after she packed us down in the bed, as we were drifting off to sleep in the nursery.

There's A Little Cabin

Verse 1
There's a little cabin where the honeysuckle twines,
Where the cotton grows, where the Suwanee flows.
If you chance to find it, you will find that girl of mine,
She's my sweet Virginia rose.

Carry me back to that old-fashioned shack,
There by the stream, just let me dream.
Virginia moonlight look down from above,
Guard the one I'm thinking of.

Verse 2
Someday I'll be roaming in the gloaming once again,
With my blushing bride, nestling by my side.
Hope we reach a preacher man to tie the knot and then,
Guess that I'll be satisfied.

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

So, I’m down here in Georgia again, visiting my folks. My dad and I have the same birthday, May 18, so we’re doing an early birthday weekend. One of our wonderful helpers made me a birthday cake and Daddy is having a piece right now.

This morning Mama and I played a game of Scrabble and I thought you (especially Marty) would like a report, so I took notes during the game. It was the best game she’s played in years! I was SO HAPPY!

Mama went first and was absolutely fine for four turns making BEAT, DREW, attaching SUN to SHARES for a triple word score, and then making LOPE. Unfortunately she hit a snag when she put down VAZE. Here is our conversation after that play:

Me: What does that spell?

Ma: Vase.

Me: In what universe?

Ma: That doesn’t spell vase?

Me: No.

Ma: What spells vase? (Isn’t that cute?)

Me: V-A-S-E.

Ma: It was a perfectly good place to use a Z. (Pause.) And you had to mess it up.

And of course then I felt like a complete heel, because in the larger scheme of things WHO CARES? I told her that if she put it down again (which she often does, having forgotten she's already played the word), I’d just let it go. But, amazingly, she did not put it down again but put down VAGUE and later used her Z later to make DOZE. I’m telling you, she was firing on all cylinders.

After VAGUE, she was leading so I said, “You’re ahead of me! You’re ahead of me!” To which she responded, “Good, good, good!”

At another juncture she was even further ahead. I said, “That puts you 15 points ahead of me.” She said, “Some days are like that.”

Other words she made were: JANE, RAG, ANDREW (adding AN to DREW), WORMY, KIND, QUIET, MEN and ON in the same play, and TO and DO in the same play which also landed on another triple word score. But her cleverest play was adding TED to ALLOT for her third triple word score.

In spite of all her great words and excellent plays, by the end, I had finally pulled ahead. (The Force was with me!) When I told her I had won, she said, “You beat me?” I said, “Only by 13 points.” She said, “Wow. That’s ridiculous.” Which it was. Why didn’t I let her WIN??????? She’s 85 years old and I still try to beat her? What’s wrong with this picture?? On the other hand, I know me well enough to know that if I let her win all the time, I eventually wouldn’t want to play. So, all I can do is work with what I’ve got right now. And sometimes she does win. And that makes me happy too. As Kenny Rogers said, “You’ve gotta know when to hold ‘em, and know when to fold ‘em.” Okay, so that was about poker. Somehow it seemed appropriate....Go figure!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

"Oh the weather outside was frightful
And if I'd been more insightful
I'd have stayed by the fire delightful
And let it snow, let it snow, let it snow....."

Actually when I left for Georgia Friday morning, the weather was fine. Cloudy, yes. Cold, yes. Snowing, no. But I'd heard the rumors: 6 to 18 inches, coming up from the south. But whoever believes the weather report? Old folks, that's who. And why? Because they have had the life experience of ignoring the reports and have been caught---as I was---on the interstate in a snow storm. Not fun.

The trip to Clarkesville, which normally takes about nine hours, took almost thirty and involved an unexpected overnight stay in Rogersville, Tennessee. It started snowing, lightly at first, about four hours into the trip. But the thing was, it just didn't stop. Cars were sliding off the road right and left. I didn't want to be one of them so I slowed to a crawl---20 mph---and just kept going, keeping a great deal of space between me and the car in front. I didn't know what else to do. By the time I reached Abingdon, about 2 pm, I was thinking I might have to stop there and spend the night with [Bluegrass content!] The Dixie Bee-Liners. But somehow, I found myself passing up that exit, especially since the ramp and the roads below looked seriously unplowed. I kept moving.

At 20 miles an hour, though, I was getting nowhere fast. All of a sudden, Knoxville, a mere 96 miles away, looked impossibly far. But I was still upright. My plan now was to keep moving west, hoping I'd drive out of the storm. However, I knew it would be getting dark around five and that I needed to find a place to stay before that. Also, I was tired. The "constant vigilance" and the white knuckling was wearing me out. (Fortunately I had my amazing iPod, newly reloaded, to listen to. "Heads Up For the Wrecking Ball" was awesome.) I started imagining the best possible scenario: an expensive motel (which would be well lighted, clean, and not scary), a nice restaurant nearby where I could get a good hot meal and a glass of wine, and a flat exit ramp, preferably plowed.

As the motel-less miles went by and it got darker and darker, I revised my wish list: a decent motel with a drivable exit ramp. I could eat the peanut butter crackers and apple I had in the car. (I had already eaten all the Hershey kisses I'd put in for Mama and Daddy!) With Casey's internet help I found a Very Nice Best Western. Foodwise, I settled for McDonald's and Corona. Not a bad combination!

The next morning I arose to no precip and a clear interstate, while back in Winchester, Red woke up to a foot of snow with more falling. I knew that everything around Asheville would be a mess, so I took the only roads to Georgia that I knew were open: Knoxville to Chattanooga to Atlanta to Gainesville to Mama and Daddy's front door. A 200 mile detour. By the time I hit Lula, the temp was 50 degrees, the sun was shining, and blue sky was peaking through puffy white clouds that didn't have a bit of snow in them. If I'd found a Starbucks, everything would have been perfect!

My plans to drive back on Sunday evaporated when I realized how hard Virginia had been hit by the storm. So, here I am, safely ensconced in my old bedroom, typing out this blog. I'm fixing to go sit in the TV room with the folks and watch more episodes of "Get Smart" on DVD which is what I gave Daddy for Christmas. I imagine the phrases "Sorry about that, Chief" and "Would you believe....?" will soon be cropping up in my blogs. I didn't realize until I started watching these reruns that the show was written by Mel Brooks. No wonder it's so funny and has held up so well.

If you have your own snow adventures, please feel free to share them in the comments. I can no longer say I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. I've seen all the snow I want to for a while!

Murphy Henry

Murphy Henry

I’ll probably blog about the Misfit Jam tonight, but just in case I don’t, I wanted to share a few comments that Mama made while we were playing Scrabble this weekend. (These comments are especially for you, Marty, since you get such a kick out of them!)

I will preface these by saying that all her long life, for all of her 84 years, Mama has managed to bury her competitive streak so deeply that I didn’t even know she had one! (Although others might be quick to point out that it probably leapt right into me on the day of my birth! Ditto the rest of my sisters!) So that’s one thing that makes these remarks so funny to me. And they are all said in a completely deadpan manner.

Murphy to Mama: “Now you’re ahead of me.”

Mama: “Good, good, good. That’s the way I like it.”

Murphy to Mama, after Mama has made a small score: “You’re still ahead of me.”
Mama: “That makes me feel better. It certainly does.”

Murphy to Mama after she makes another small score: “You’re still ahead.”

No comment from Mama. I think maybe she didn’t hear me. So I say, “Plus you messed up my word.”

Mama: “Good. That makes it even better.”

And now one poignant comment:

Mama had the Q and was studying the board long and hard, trying to figure out a way to use the U that was down. It couldn’t be done. So I said, “I’ll put down a U that you can use.” So on my next play, I put down “dune” with an easily-accessible U. So I say to Mama, “Here’s a U you can use.”
She says, “What do I need a U for?” Sigh....

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the time to spend playing Scrabble with Mama. I’m building memories.