My mama was a poet, an artist, a seamstress, a fan of etymology and Matlock, and could run like the wind. Those are the things I recalled when I did the exercise of remembering her outside of her service to others. It takes work for me to remember her as an individual. My knee-jerk recollections involve everything but her being her own person, even in death. She was my mama. She was my daddy’s wife. She was God’s servant. Most people who only know her through my stories don’t even know her name: Lou Verda Mae.

Children were always mama’s ministry. Before she had children of her own, she spent time caring…