"MAKE A LIST." Mama spoke those words to me a few minutes ago.
We were visiting by telephone tonight. Today is her late brother's birthday. He would have been eighty-eight. Her sole remaining sibling, older sister Vannah, had just sent out the annual email to relatives memorializing Gordon's birthday. My mother and Vannah have had a tradition of honoring their departed brother and sister on the birthday of each. Mama and Vannah would swap out on the annual duty.
This year, Mama is dealing with a serious ailment, so she has not been reading emails or getting online in any fashion. Consequently, I called her tonight to read Vannah's letter about Gordon and other matters of family interest. Vannah and Mother are similar writers and speakers. They attend to the details and are unlikely to leave many out.
Mother and I began to visit about our family traits, and we quickly centered our thoughts on the penchant for list making. "Make a list," Mama always said, and said again tonight, invoking the time honored tradition. "Your grandmother was a list maker," Mama reminded me. Mama's and Vannah's mother was a tall woman born in the 1890s. She stood up tall with head high and shoulders back. She was resolute. Of her four children, Gordon most looked like her.
My son likes to note that when I do something not on my list, I sometimes add it to my list, then strike through it. Yes, that's me! I am reminded of how proud I felt when my son was about seven and presented his list of five things he was taking with him to visit relatives in Missouri. He had written down the things he was taking, then stricken through each one as he put it into the car. You cannot buy those kind of memories.
I know people who cannot stand the making of lists. They seem to consider them either unnecessary or too confining. I'm suspicious that they really mean they don't like people who make lists. That statement is sure to draw a laugh from a couple of folks I know.
Mama taught us a variety of lessons growing up, and making a list was a big one. I think it's because in making a list we have to visualize the day and order the things we hope to accomplish. By writing them down, we see the most sensible, time economic way in which to work our way through the list. We avoid forgetting something and we have a way to prioritize the things we will do that day.
Another line Mama used back in the day was to quote Barney Fife from The Andy Griffin Show. "That's the plan," actor Don Knotts would say. Plans and lists go hand in hand. A list is a plan - a plan for the day's adventure, which may include some pretty mundane things. But striking them off that list gives a sense of daily accomplishment. And when the day is done, time to start tomorrow's list, and roll into it things not finished today.
© 2012, Jim “Pappy” Moore, All Rights Reserved.
Jim “Pappy” Moore is a native son of East Texas who still makes the piney woods his firstname.lastname@example.org