Friday, August 10, 2007

Especially Mother

Last Sunday was my birthday, so Bill and I drove to Bardwell to celebrate at one of my favorite places: Mother’s house. Suzanne joined us, as well as sisters Patsy, Mary Ellen and Eva, and brother, Tom, Aunt Mona and cousin Dennis.

We enjoyed birthday cake (made by Mother, of course) and chocolate ice cream (my favorite), then we sat at the dining table, sipping coffee, catching up on the latest happenings in Bardwell, and bragging about our grandchildren, and in some cases, great-grandchildren. (Mary Ellen has a new great-granddaughter, and Patsy is eagerly anticipating the arrival of her first great-grandchild, a boy, in October).

After all my gifts were unwrapped, cards read, and everyone thanked and hugged, we reminisced about my 15th birthday, when three of us--and Mother--almost drowned in Maw Maw Wilson’s pond. We also talked about the cold February night when Maw Maw and Paw Paw George’s house burned, and, as she does every year on each child’s birthday, Mother reminisced about the night I was born.

Mother was 19 when she gave birth to me at home on that hot and muggy night in August. The family doctor came as soon as he was called and stayed throughout the night, delivering me at 11:59 p.m. on August 5th. My 23-year-old father and both grandmothers were there, as well as 20-month-old Terry, who slept through it all. Maw Maw Wilson and Maw Maw George gave me my first bath by the light of the kerosene lamps. Electricity had not yet come to our part of the world; we would not have electric lights until we moved to the big brick house Daddy built when I was seven years old.

Since that August night so many years ago, Mother has given birth to nine more children. We lost Terry when he was 37, and Tim, when he was 28. Another brother, Tommy, lived only five days.

Despite the heartache and grief of losing three sons, two grandchildren, as well as Daddy (the love of her life), and many other loved ones, Mother just keeps on keeping on.

“I had to,” she says, “for you kids.”

Eighty-six, and looking a good 10 years younger, she is truly the heart of our family. Selfless, devoted, loving and always there for us, I really don’t know what we would do without her. (The photo above captures her essence; it was taken by my lovely niece, Christa.)

Mother and I are night owls, so we have long, late-night phone conversations at least four or five times a week.

“Hello, Brenda Gail,” she says, “How are y’all?”

Mother and I are alike in many other ways; we love poetry, good books, antiques, old family pictures, comfortable, worn furniture and cozy rooms with crackling fires. We enjoy thunderstorms, foggy nights, frogs croaking, the Katydids’ song, and the scent of fresh-cut grass. We love the silence of new-fallen snow on cold winter nights, the scent of beef stew or hearty soups simmering on the stove, and curling up in our warm robes, writing in our journals or reading. And we love tear-jerker movies, such as “Trip to Bountiful,” “Driving Miss Daisy,” and “The Whales of August,”

We also read The National Enquirer. Why? Because inquiring minds want to know!

“Mary Tyler Moore looks like a caricature,” I say, “She’s all mouth.”

“If Barbara Walters has another facelift, she won’t be able to open her mouth,” says Mother, giggling.

We have read every book written about the Kennedys and thirst for more.

“Did you see on Larry King where somebody has written another one?” Mother says, “We’ve just got to get that.”

“Is it the one about Jackie and Bobby?” I say, “There’s no telling what we’ll find out.”

And the Royals:

“I don’t care what they say,” Mother says, “Princess Di was murdered!”

“Yes," I say, “Common sense tells you that!”

Mother and I often have the same ideas at the same time. When she began reading Longfellow’s poem, “A Psalm of Life,” at our literary meeting last month, I was amazed. No more than a week before, I had copied the poem and put it into my “Favorite Poems” folder. Mother had no idea I copied the poem, and I had no idea she was going to read it. We had never even talked about liking the poem. And she read it from a book of poetry I had given her in 1974. One of many synchronous moments!

Late that night, after my very enjoyable day, I sat in quiet contemplation, giving thanks for all the people in my life: my husband, daughter, grandson, and my large, supportive family whose unconditional love is always there. Especially Mother. Who, whether she knows it or not, is still achieving and still pursuing.

Let us then be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labour and to wait.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Bizzy said...

This made me vah-klempt. What a wonderful tribute! (Also, I get the "Especially" reference, of course.)

Paprikapink said...

Very nice, Brenda. I'll have to stop by here more often.

All words and pictures © 2008 Brenda G. Wooley