Growing up, Mama always had a way of just knowing when something was amiss.
Usually, that meant she knew when I was having fun and could hone in on my whereabouts with her personal built-in GPS tracking system to find me. Sometimes, it meant when she knew I was up to entirely no good.
There was the time a friend came to pick me up one night, and as we headed out the door, without looking up from her crossword, Mama commented, “Don’t y’all go driving around with any boys.”
“Oh, we won’t, Mama Jean,” my friend lied.
Mama somehow knew she was lying and was waiting for us, sitting on top of her little Ford Escort in the Winn-Dixie parking lot like a redheaded, chain-smoking hood ornament. It didn’t matter how cold it was and she didn’t even have on a coat; her fury was keeping her warm.
That was one of the first times I was nearly yanked through a car window with the window still up.
But, even though her intuition often was the spoilsport to most of my fun, there were times she thankfully knew something was wrong and listened to her gut.
Like the time I was spending the night with some friends after a hot summer day out by the pool. Even though I had slathered on SPF 200 religiously, I underestimated how strong the sun could reflect off the water.
My pale skin soon turned a very bright and blistery red.
I didn’t want to miss out on going to see ‘Pretty Woman’ with my friends, but the sunburn was so painful I could barely stand clothing. I suffered through it anyway, probably because of the promise of extra butter and peanut M&M’s in a large popcorn.
When we got back to my friend’s house, I was wondering how I was even going to sleep.
Around 1 a.m. headlights appeared in the driveway and Mama was soon knocking gently on the door, Virginia Slim in hand and a worried look on her face. “Is Sudie OK?” she asked.
I wanted to cry. “No, Mama,” I said, grabbing my stuff. “I got a horrible sunburn!”
“Come on,” she said.
As we headed home, I looked over at her. “Did Susan’s mom call you?”
She shook her head.
“Then what made you come out there?”
Susan lived in Covington — a decent little drive from where we lived, and Mama had been at work.
“I just had a feeling so I left work a little early.”
“How did you find her house in the dark?”
As many times as I had been there, I always got lost and had to drive around until I could figure out where to go, and that was during the day. Mama somehow found it in the dark.
“I just did.”
I couldn’t think of any more questions. My brain felt sunburned. Mama cranked up the AC and I whimpered all the way home where I spent the next 10 days recovering from a second-degree sunburn.
This was decades before Google Maps or even when having a cell phone was the normal thing; and if you did have one, it was $174.99 a minute to even use it. But Mama could find me on her own accord no matter where I was and did many times.
Once, when I was in college, I had realized right before my last class that I didn’t have enough gas to get home. As I sat in my class wondering if I could scrounge up enough change in my floorboards to get a gallon — hey, gas was super cheap back in the ’90s — I noticed my professor glance towards an outer area outside of the classroom.
“May I help you?” he asked.
“I need to see my daughter.” I recognized that voice immediately and got up from my seat before the professor could scold her for interrupting his lecture.
“Here,” she said, handing me cash. “I was on my way to work and thought I needed to come by and give you some money. Did you eat? Do you need me to go get you something?”
“No,” I said. “I did need gas though.”
She somehow looked relieved, as if knowing her worry was justified and she could rest easy knowing the crisis was averted.
I’m 48 years old, and she still does this.
If I go to the store and don’t tell her, the minute I walk in, she’s calling.
“Did you tell Nennie you were going somewhere?” Cole will ask. I shake my head.
“Then how does she know?”
I’ve asked her that very question myself before. She has insisted she just had a feeling.
Recently when I wasn’t feeling up to snuff and was snuggled in my chair under a mountain of blankets with a cup of hot tea and my cat, she texted. “How are you feeling? Are you OK?”
How did she know?
“I’m a mom; I just know things,” she stated.
Maybe that’s true.
The other day when I had to go to town to pick up a few things, I started thinking how Cole may like a pizza and swung by Little Caesar’s to pick one up.
When I got home and was unloading the Jeep, Lamar asked, “Did Cole text you?”
“He wanted a pizza.”
I laughed. “Ah, I thought he might.”
“How did you know, Mom?” he asked as I handed him the boxes.
“I’m a mom. I know things.”
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom. Her recently published book, ‘Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Wisdom, and Deep-Fried Humor’ is available in paperback and Kindle download on Amazon.