Friday, August 19, 2016

Mamaw, Carol, and me

Whenever I see Carol Burnett, I think of my late grandmother.

Two reasons.

One, I used to watch Carol's reruns and later shows at "Mamaw" Lydia Mabe's house whenever I was there on Saturday nights. Two, we're part of a Burnett family tree (Hi, Seth!), and my grandmother made a good argument for the fact that Carol might be part of it.

Seems like the story goes as such: A long, long time ago, several Burnett ancestors left East Tennessee for Texas. Carol Burnett (her real name) was born in Texas before going to California -- with her grandmother.

Yeah, it's a long shot, but it's nice to think about on rainy days and Mondays.

Moments I'll forever cherish are taking my grandmother to Burnett family reunions in Sharps Chapel. She grew up there until TVA sent everybody packing to create Norris Dam/Lake. My grandmother talked about it, on and off, for the rest of her life, but she must've not minded too much. She remained an FDR/Truman Democrat in a family filled with Eisenhower Republicans.

We talked about it during what became our last conversation. I went to visit her in the hospital in July 2013. She'd fallen at home. The doctors discovered terminal cancer, too. They weren't going to tell her. I don't guess anybody did.

But, when I got there, she was just like she'd been my whole life. Sure, she'd slowed down, but, goodness, she was almost 89. She told me stories from the '30s, from Sharps Chapel, and I left there thinking she'd live another few months to a year at least. That was a Monday.

She died the following Saturday.

Just before things got so rough I couldn't even read, I bought a cheap copy of one of Carol Burnett's memoirs, "This Time Together." I'm finally getting to read it.

And, I asked on Facebook if some kind person out there might have any of the uncut Time-Life "Carol Burnett Show" DVDs for me to borrow. (After two years of disability and being in heavy medical debt, I'm thankful, but broke, and am looking for laughs.)

Two super souls responded. Robin Tindell said she'd let me borrow her parents' DVDs. And a Good Samaritan sent me an Amazon gift card so I could buy the seven-disc "Lost Episodes" set. I'd really been wanting to see those, especially the first show from Sept. 11, 1967. But I didn't have the $99 to spare, nor the cheaper $40 discounted one in the Amazon marketplace.

So, don't let anybody tell you that kindness is dead or that social media isn't good for something. They know their kindness will be paid forward.

So, as I watch Harvey Korman lose it at Tim Conway's antics, or Burnett sing with Bing, or the footage that hasn't been seen since the original CBS broadcasts, I can't help but think of my grandmother and wish she were here to see it, too.

But, who knows? Maybe she's being entertained by Harvey Korman somewhere in the sweet by and by.

I'm so glad we had that time together, Mamaw...

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Blogger Donnie Ellis said...

Jake, you have a way to tell a story that I love. Memories are yours and can never be taken from you whether they be good or bad. As we get older those memories seem to come up more often. Cherish the time you spend with your parents, grandparents, and siblings as even those will come to an end but when those times are gone we will have our memories to relive them forever. And, yes, Robin Tindell is a kind soul.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Jake Mabe said...

Thank you, as always, Donnie. You're a true friend!

1:02 PM  

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