“She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.”
I arrived on this earth a blessed little girl. Every one of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and one great-great-grandmother (my namesake) were still here to welcome me into the world. Among those patriarchs and matriarchs of my family was one Lauretta Tullos. In every bone, she carried strength, selflessness, and laughter. Lots and lots of laughter. At the beginning of this week, we gathered together—all of us, her legacy—to say goodbye to our beloved Mamaw Tullos. For on September 4th, 2015, she closed her eyes to this world and awoke in the presence of her Savior. And I have to tell you, though the sorrow was very present, I could not help but be overwhelmed by gratitude. I am grateful that the life we celebrated was intertwined with mine. I am grateful for the opportunity to have known her and loved her. For the opportunity to be known and loved by her. For hers was a deep, powerful love. One that was fierce and faithful.
In the printed program for her funeral, my cousin included the last seven verses of Proverbs 31. As I read over them, I was amazed by how accurate a picture they painted of Lauretta Tullos. She had been clothed in strength and dignity. Without a doubt, she was a woman who feared the Lord. And she definitely was one to laugh at the days to come. Truth be told, she was prone to laughing at just about anything.
It was almost a year ago, I guess. Thanksgiving. Maybe, Christmas. I had my legs tucked under my aunt’s kitchen table, nestled between the table top before me and the window behind me. And everyone was laughing at something I’d said. I couldn’t tell you what came out of my mouth to garner such a reaction. The scene is too common for me to tell one from the other. But I will never forget what happened when everyone started to catch their breath and let go of aching sides. My dad leaned back in his chair, looked to another family member and commented on how much my sense of humor reminded him of his grandmother, my great-grandmother. The living, breathing comedy routine that doubled as our family’s matriarch.
All my life, I had heard story after story of things Mamaw Tullos had said and done that had caused a round of raucous laughter. During holiday gatherings and visits, I had experienced first hand her razor-sharp wit and quick tongue that was always waiting for an opportunity to send those around her into a fit of laughter. I had witnessed crocodile tears roll down my aunt’s cheeks after a muttered sarcastic comment had escaped Big Mamaw’s lips. My aunt and I both have laughs that could wake a graveyard. When Mamaw Tullos had us both laughing at the same time, I’m sure the ground shook beneath us.
She loved nothing more than to make those around her laugh.
When my dad compared my humor with hers, something inside me exploded with satisfaction. On the outside, I grinned and listened as others nodded and agreed. After all the stories and personal experiences with her hysterical sense of humor, my great-grandmother had taken on an almost unreachable, legendary quality in my mind. To be compared to her overwhelmed me with a sense of undeniable pride. It wasn’t for my sense of humor or for my ability to make a joke every now and then. I was tremendously proud of the fact that somewhere inside of me, there was a part of me that looked like her.
“Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her…
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
-Proverbs 31:25, 28, 31