Mama Gat was born in 1924 and given the name of Maxie Mavaline George. She was known by some as just Susie. She was one of eleven children born in the harsh year of 1924. She married at the age of fourteen to Milford Gatlin, and she had three children: my dad-James (Jim), Robert, and Sue. Papa was a veteran of World War II, and she learned at a young age to be a strong independent woman.
She was such an amazing hard working woman that I do not know where to start. She would work at the factory all day then come home and pick vegetables from her garden and prepare them to be canned or put in the freezer. The vegetable soup and the green beans were my favorites. For many years we went to her house for Sunday dinner. I appreciate that so much more now than I did then. She would work all week and then all day Saturday doing something like going to the sales or Ripley or Wren or making flowers to have extra money, and I think she did enjoy her Saturday work because she was doing something she wanted to do, and then she would be in the kitchen from early Sunday morning until lunch. We would eat, help her clean the kitchen a little, and then visit for a short time and go home. Never thinking that she really did not get to visit with us very much, but she did love to see the smile on our faces when we took that first bite of those fried apple pies, chocolate pie, or that homemade chocolate pudding.
She would come to Daddy’s to spend the weekend or go to my sister’s house for a visit, and she would bring her own pots and pans because they cooked exactly like she wanted them to cook the food. It would take a little while to unload the van.
I see her in every part of my house from the beautiful quilts she made each of the Gatlin clan to the beautiful round end table she gave me. I also now have some of her other furniture. When she came to my house and I did not have the right sweet tea glasses then that is what I got for Christmas that year. Mama paid attention when she visited, and she knew exactly what I needed. She always wrapped our presents, and I think that is where Sue gets her love of beautifully wrapping each present.
She would babysit for me when the girls were small, and I needed to go somewhere through the week. She would let them “fix” her hair even if she had just left the beauty shop. She loved to travel and go, and we enjoyed seeing her able to relax and enjoy herself. Mama was very independent, and sometimes we would lose her. Sue would start calling the family and her friends and eventually Sue would track her down. She was always there to listen when I needed to talk. She did not say much but when she did, you needed to listen. She called me Liz in honor of Elizabeth Taylor after my second divorce. I tried to reassure that I would never catch up with Elizabeth Taylor.
I see some part of her in many of the family members: her nose, eyes, her work ethic which she instilled in each of her children and they passed it on to their children and then we passed it on to ours, her crafty side, her my way is best- so there is no point in arguing, and her love of family and friends.
She loved the Rebels, and she loved watching them play whether in person or on TV. She attended games until she was not longer able to navigate the stairs. Mama watched football and basketball and any sport she could find to watch.
We all miss her, but she is with us in our hearts and our memories.
“Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone.” Mitch Albom
“What you have done to this point cannot be undone. What you do next… It is still unwritten.” Mitch Albom, The Time Keeper