A note: I am naturally resisting switching verb tenses. In this writing, I oscillate between past and present. This grammatical “error” jars the writer and the reader–this jar is intentional, to remind us that this is wrong. A college senior should not be writing a eulogy for her mother.
Lynette Little actually accomplished the impossible. She held a highly respected position in a field that men told her is not open to her. In her 16 (!) appointments, she developed a fierce community of folks who loved one another, raised up children, fights with one another over carpets and money in board rooms, professed to serve the poor, and sings with a loud voice. She comes down firmly on the side of the marginalized, and gently led some marginalizers sitting in the pews to repentance. People bent to her without realizing, because she loves them so obviously. The amount of Grace needed to serve a church, the most messy of holy spaces, is inaccessible to most; and she has It.
At the very same time, she anchored a family. She nurtures intensely individual connections with each of us and thus connected us with each other, our four piece unit. A day at home almost always included a family breakfast over waffles and bacon; then just us two riding in the car, going on an adventure–which usually just meant riding in the car and pausing for coffee and antique shops; then coming back to eat dinner all together with a movie afterwards. That’s the shape of our lives: a shape disrupted now.
At the very same time, she holds dear friends dearer as years progress. A snapshot of her commitment is that she drives hundreds of miles every month to Jackson while we lived on the coast to participate in her dream group. She and her best friend delight in daily interaction over Facebook Messenger, and they will always share that they went together to family revival and north Mississippi to choose a house. Countless friendships have flourished in church foyers after worship while I was itching to go eat lunch.
The tether that binds us changed shape as I grow up. I stayed glued to her by necessity as a baby, as she brought me with her to work. I attached myself by choice as a child, “let’s read another book, Mama”. I handed her the one end of the rope as I depart from the dock as a teenager and a young adult. 100% of the time, she said go and have adventures, and I do. And 100% of the time, I grab the rope and pulled myself back in to shore to relay a detailed account of what happened. Times changed, but the tether is always present.
I cannot bring myself to believe that the tether is chopped now. It seems to have changed shape again. So much of who I am is either carbon-copied from her, or delightedly acknowledged as beautifully unique by her. From the most insignificant love of French onion soup, to deep appreciation of beauty and art, her fingerprints lie on my life, on all of our lives, and always will.