Updated: Aug 22
In the yoga sutras there is a section (1.33 - 1.39) that describes the multiple tools or methods with which you can use to practice quieting the mind and connecting to your true nature. Sutra 1.37 says: “By contemplating enlightened sages who have walked this path before us, or by simply emulating a person you respect and admire.” Who in our lives might be so inspiring to offer up such an example of what we hope to aspire to in life? For me, no question, she has always been the one... Mammaw Opal. She passed from this life this week, so this tribute is to her.
Mammaw modeled a life well lived and full of purpose - 103 years worth!
She modeled these things quietly - no nagging or lectures or scolding, she modeled and LIVED her values. There was no lack of encouragement but life choices were for you to try while on your own path - and she seemed to absolutely love watching it all unfold uniquely for each of us.
She showed us how to laugh and find humor in yourself and with life.
Growing up she lost her mother at six, ran away at 12, and experienced hardships through life I can never imagine. She modeled that out of sad times you gain insight & perspective (valuable to keep) but to be careful not to harden or become callous because of it. She demonstrated the tenets of the path of yoga that I would be so drawn to later in life.
She had such a key presence at the major milestones in our lives. She kept "up-to-date" with 3 children, 8 grands, & 26 great grands including researching the perfect Christmas or birthday gifts making sure they were both useful and matched our unique personalities and interests.
One of my favorite things as I became older was sitting at a table with the women of my family, strong & inspiring women! We would have great conversations about life, politics, people, & adventures. Talking through a challenge or problem was fun, an adventure, and not something to fear.
Mammaw and I shared a great love for adventures, travel, & experiencing other cultures - the wanderlust to seek out new places and people. We both enjoy the excitement of planning, squeezing every fun thing out of the time we have, documenting it properly with albums of pictures, paper clippings, & memoirs. If you ask my kids they’re ready at a moments notice for me to load them up in the car in search for adventure.
What a treasure she gifted us with experiences. She took each grandchild on a trip to the location of their choosing at the age of 14. When I think back to my trip with her to Hawaii - I recall the amazing things I experienced from flying in a helicopter over an active volcano to watching the sunrise on Haleakala Crater & mountain biking down the mountain. What sticks with me the most were the afternoons when we got too hot or tired on the beach - we played cards in our hotel room in our underwear, eating snacks, & laughing until our stomachs hurt. It was precious time spent with her ❤️
Mammaw LOVED & cherished her girlfriends - another great life lesson - hold those girlfriends tight - they may still be there 60, 70, 80 years down the road!
She loved the beach. My love for shelling comes from time spent with her. I always think of her when I’m at any beach, like she’s right alongside me toasting in the sun telling great stories.
Her constant presence & words of encouragement were there at every stage of my growth. I know now that giving someone your time & undivided attention are the most valuable things you have to offer.
She never waivered from modeling what graceful resilience looks like and a positive forward thinking approach to life.
She was a great storyteller and she made sure her time was filled with making more great stories.
The reason I’m connected so deeply to the amazing people in my family is because of her story - set in little pockets of heaven in Arkansas. I am so grateful for that.
So now we pick up where she left off and keep her memory alive by telling her stories. We must stay connected & keep making our own stories. I think that would be her greatest wish. 🙏