I love Tyler Perry’s alter ego, Madea. Madea can make me laugh like no one else on the silver screen; I feel a familial connection to her. From the moment I first ‘met’ Madea, she has reminded me of the strong women in my mom’s family. All of the Crawford/Benefield women possess some of Madeas’ best qualities: fierce loyalty and love of family, defenders of the ‘right-doers’ and knuckle crackers of the ‘wrong-doers’, unwavering determination to go toe to toe and nose to nose with a troublemaker and the uncanny ability to take a word and make it sound only vaguely reminiscent of the original expression (my mom is Queen of this particular trait). My mom’s baby sister, my Aunt Mae Elizabeth, known to some as Liz and to others as Lizzie, has the ability, like Madea, to stop a ‘sassy-mouthed’ teen in their tracks…with nothing more than her quick, sharp-tongued wit. Except for height, Mae and Madea are not physically similar, but in fiery personality they are equals. Both Mae and Madea have the ability to intimidate, and the inability to be intimidated. Mae and Madea’s homes are gathering places for family and friends: Christmas and New Years’ parties, Easter Dinners, birthday parties…places of refuge in times of heartache and lifes’ muddled tight spots. People adore both these women, despite their bluntness when it comes to offering advice regarding life and discipline.

I love Madea, but I really Love my Aunt Mae, she’s part of the network that developed who I am.  I love her for having my back for half a century. I love her willingness to help anyone, family and strangers alike. I love her ability to love without placing conditions on love. I respect her courage to walk forward after the death of an adult daughter. And her strength, after another daughter, still a young woman in her thirties, had a devastating stroke. I love her ability to make me laugh. Today I’m not laughing. On this day, I’m angry. I’m angry with a sly, shifty, silent, sinister killer. Cancer. For several months, this evil intruder has tried, unsuccessfully, to take the laughter out of my aunts’ spirit, to diminish her zest for living. But Mae has not allowed the life stealer to steal her joy….no, not by a longshot. She and William, her husband of forty-five years, stilll enjoy their cruises…drives to the mountains….trips to New Orleans (she’s still a mean one at the slots)…and having family, friends and grandkids visit. She still has her sense of humor. Mae is not giving in to the C Word. She is a fighter, she is fighting tooth and nail, planning to kick the butt of cancer and leave it in the ditch. Those of us who love her are fighting with her and for her, through prayer. Would you help us?

If you’re the praying kind, I would like to request your prayers for Mae. The world is a happier place with her in it; God willing, I would like to keep her here indefinitely.

The following words belong to Madea, but could easily be from Mae:

” And when I think about the goodness of Jesus and all that he has done for me, my sould cries out Holluyar, thank Gawd for saving me.”

I love you MyDear, Aunt Mae … Whitney Houston – I Go to the Rock (feat. The Georgia Mass Choir)