by Leroy Morganti
My mother was an angel, at least in my eyes, and I think God’s too.
To my knowledge, she never did or wished harm to anyone else; she just took care of her own and minded her business very well. For about 15 years, her main business was trying to raise two sons the right way after she was widowed when my brother Robert was 11 and I was six.
That took a lot of doing since we didn’t have much money and “Miz Rosie” had only an eighth grade education, but a ton of innate wisdom. For years, she worked long six-day weeks clerking at department stores in Rosedale before she found her niche in the school cafeteria and worked her way up to Manager.
I think of her often these days and, as often as not, I recall some of her favorite expressions and each brings a smile for one reason or another. Here are some of my favorites:
“WELL, I SWANNEE!” -- To this day, I have no idea what “swannee” means or even how to spell it, but Miz Rosie used it often and with assurance. I think it might have been a nicer way of saying, “Well, I swear” to express surprise or alarm since she was not prone to swearing. When I see her in Heaven, I expect her to say, “Well, I swannee, you DID make it!”
Regardless, she went to great lengths never to show any favoritism. Whenever someone was speaking kindly of Robert (as many did so with cause), she was quick to point out, “My OTHER son is a good boy too.” And I may have been, but not in a league with Robert, who was the kindest person I’ve ever known and someone I greatly admired.
“I’LL DANCE AT YOUR WEDDING” – This was the common expression she used when showing appreciation for some favor or kindness. I don’t know how Miz Rosie’s dancing at someone’s wedding was going to set off things and I don’t remember her ever dancing at anyone’s wedding, but somehow the expression got her appreciation across.
“YOU’VE EARNED A STAR FOR YOUR CROWN IN HEAVEN” – I think this was her greatest compliment and it was usually issued to someone who had done something very generous or kind. It frequently involved a son or daughter who was especially considerate of a parent. I don’t recall being awarded any stars, nor did Robert, who definitely earned several by taking care of Miz Rosie in her latter years. I figure he was deprived only because of her “no favorite” rule.
“LORD, GIRL (BOY), YOU’RE GETTING FAT!” – Several years back, I ran into a friend I had not seen in a while and complimented her on her appearance. She sheepishly credited Miz Rosie.
“Why is that?” I asked.
“The last time I saw her, she said, ‘Lord, girl, you’re getting fat,’ and she was the only one brave enough to tell me what I already knew.”
One of the things I’m looking forward to in the afterlife is seeing my mother again for the first time in many years, but I’m going to try to lose a few pounds before then.
Leroy Morganti is a native of Rosedale, Mississippi. He spent the early years of his professional life as a reporter for various Mississippi newspapers and The Associated Press. He joined Delta State University in 1971 as Director of Public Information and retired in 2002 as Vice President for Executive Affairs. He resides at the Benoit Outing Club.
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