Monday, February 12, 2018

A Tribute to My Mom

Mom is still living albiet she is not active any longer.
As I was sitting watching her in ICU and talking with younger cousins on Facebook, thoughts of how it was I knew cousins and aunts and uncles in my family strode through my mind.  Those thoughts were intertwined with my mom and her love of family. Being number 13 in a family of 13 and all of her brothers and a few sister being gone by the time she was in school, must have given her some sense of need to keep in touch with family. There never was a picture of the whole family. I know her mom taking in two of her grandchildren and raising them with mom made an affect on her for opening your door to family.
When I was very small, due to my dad losing the lower portion of his leg, we lacked funds for a house. We lived with my Aunt Lynn for about a year when we moved from Iowa back to Oklahoma. I guess my cousins and I slept in the living room on pallets and the parents had the two bedrooms. I just remember the house and playing outside. Another example of family helping family in my mom's early married life. She was able to go to college and dad supported her by washing dishes. Since the college was a few hours away, she chose to stay there during the week and come home on the weekends. She worked for a lady to pay for her room and board during the week. We missed her, my dad's family said she would leave him, which he poo pooed at (using a slang term of the time  😉
and it didn't happen.
mom me and dad
We moved to Edmond, Oklahoma where my dad was able to get training in HVAC. She finished at Central State College (it is a University now) and did some of her student teaching there. Their first house they bought was a duplex because my dad's mom needed to be close to someone. Mom was kind and helpful to her. Eventually they bought a separate house and moved it in on the oversized lot next to us. Dad remodeled the duplex into a three bedroom home, one of the bedrooms was a converted screened in porch that doubled as wash room and guest room. I was an only child.  Mom taught 5th and 6th graders in Millwood School  from 1955 to 1980. (I need to write about my mom learning to drive...that was a trip).
When holidays came, we would usually go to Pawnee, where my aunts and uncle lived. It was always fun, the women in the kitchen, the guys talking about hunting or a game on the tv and the kids playing outside. Then two of my aunts had a disagreement, my dad didn't want to go anymore, but mom insisted that we go and take a day going to visit each one individually. We did not lose contact.
Dad and two of his sisters

On her side of the it wasn't that easy. Her sisters were all over, and three of her brothers she had not seen since she was 9 lived on the Pacific Coast. The youngest brother was in the Service so he would come visit when they were in the country. We would drive over to her niece Jeannine's in El Reno, who was just a year younger than she was to visit with her and her family or down to Oklahoma City to visit with Aunt Edna and her children... This family would come and visit at our house. One year dad bit the bullet and saved enough so we could drive to Albuquerque to visit her sister Lola at Christmas. That was a treat. Aunt Lola's husband was Polish, so she fixed Polish dishes one meal and then Southwestern dishes of New Mexico at another meal. Great memory.
Lola and my Grandmother Whitson

During the summer, I remember we would have cousins from either side of the family come at different times to stay for a multiple of reasons. Mom opened her door for anyone in need. Older cousins came with their families and lived with us in the small house while they were getting on their feet. One cousin, the son of the brother in the Air Force, came and stayed with us for a short time until he got an apartment while he went to college. Grandmothers on both sides came to live with us.

My dad's mother longer, that is another story.
When they moved to Texas to be near me, the cousins and aunts and uncles came down to make sure that Ned and I were treating them right. 😊

Mom was always on the phone with someone or writing to them. After my dad died, she had enough money to travel. One of the first trips was to California to see her brother George. She love that. Then she and her sister and niece went to Washington to see the brother in the Air Force that had settled near Spokane. While up there they met with her oldest living brothers Elbert and Ray and made contact with their son Ray who was an artist. Since mom loved art and was dabbling in painting, this was exciting to her. Ray and his wife Caroline kept in touch through mail until she couldn't think well enough to write. Even after Ray has passed away, Caroline and she still send Christmas cards to each other.
Mom, Meadie, Marley, Lola, and Jeannine

When it was time for Fay, Oklahoma's bicentennial celebration, she was instrumental in collecting pictures and stories for a personal book called Fay Day's [a book of poems about family and acquaintances she remembered from growing up]  which was illustrated by her cousin's husband William "Bill" Shotts  and  Fay History Book.
Her heart and arms have always been open to love on family. Even now as she lies trying to overcome pneumonia, she keeps coming back the same question... Naomi and Melvin are gone? This is my dad's nephew and his wife that were the same age as mom. She loved them greatly.

At 89, she has seen all but herself and her twin pass away in their family. My dad and his brothers and sisters are gone. She loved on all of them at some time and held on to the nieces and nephews. She has been my example to gather family like a hen gathers chicks, and to not be selfish.

In closing, I will tell you... She taught 35 years as a elementary teacher. She taught all subjects but her love was reading and art. When she retired, she took up writing and was published in newspapers and a couple of magazines. Kids she taught still remember her and projects she did with them. She also tried painting. Many of the family have her paintings still in their homes. When she started developing dementia and anxiety, my aunt and I went through a period of denial because it was so foreign that she could be such an active mind and all of a sudden not even pick up a pen to write with or a book to read. She is a lovely lady and I am grateful for the example she sat for me through the years. It has made me a better person.

A note: I have the original Fay Days book. If anyone would like one, let me know.