Virginia Spencer lived to see 106 birthdays, a milestone that didn't go unnoticed
Published: June 1, 2011
They're still getting used to Mama's absence from the house. It takes time to break old habits, like checking in on her bedroom to make sure she's OK, cooking meals for her, letting her know her favorite TV shows are on.
"I would get up, and by the time I get to Mama's room I'd know Mama's not here and I'd catch myself, so I'd play it off and go up to the front like I was looking out the door," she says, and then points at Ziegler. "I didn't want her to know what's going on."
The house still has Mama's fingerprints all over it. A photo of Mayor Coleman Young, her favorite, still stands on a shelf, wrapped in plastic the way some elderly people wrap all sorts of things in plastic. A painting of a dark-skinned Jesus still hangs on the wall. And her old soft chair still sits in front of the television.
The family plans to rehang the goodbye banner again this August, from the beginning of the month until Aug. 31, Mama's birthday. Then it comes down forever.
It'll be the final nod toward a life that, like so many anonymous lives in the city, touched people in countless ways, from the firemen who came by one final time, to the printer who came in on his day off to make one last banner for her, to the strangers the family just knows will come knocking again in August, wondering where Mama is.
The family says she'll still be there in a way. "She all around us right now," Seay says. "Everywhere you look, it's Mama, it's Mama. It just feels like she's still right here, you know what I'm saying? This used to be her chair, but I can just sit in this chair, it just feels so calm, at ease. Just like she's got her arms around me."
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