LOUISE: Musings About Mothers

While rummaging through boxes from the attic, I ran across some old college books and papers. Among them was an assigned essay I had written about my mother who was 58 years old at the time. The story made me smile as I reminisced about long ago happenings. And being as Mother’s Day is around the corner, it seemed only fitting that I share some of my musings.

Standing--Left to right: Ray, Jim, John, Monte; Sitting--Left to Right: Louise, Mama, JerleneMarried at just 16 years of age, my mother became a mother at the tender age of seventeen, eventually giving birth to eight children, two of which were stillborn. But she and Daddy raised a feisty family of six kids. My sister, Jerlene, tells me that she, the firstborn, had a very strict mother who became more lenient with each child. (I think my oldest son says the same thing.) Next came my brothers, Ray and John. Spirited boys whose discipline was handled by my father. Then came what Mama refers to as her twins—my brother, Jimmy and me, just 18 months apart. And finally, my youngest brother, Monte, the baby of the family who seldom received any discipline at all to his siblings’ way of thinking.

Besides parenting a passel of kids, Mama worked hard on the farm where we lived—gardening, canning, cooking and cleaning with no indoor plumbing. We did laundry on a wringer washer in town then hung everything on the clothesline and fence to dry. An excellent seamstress, Mama seldom used a pattern and often went to the feed store with Daddy so she could pick out the prettiest prints of feed sacks to make my clothes.

Mama loved pretty things, especially flowers, palomino ponies and scenic mountain roads. And though neither she nor Daddy had been out of the state of Oklahoma since the day they were married, they packed up sleeping cots, food, skillets and their three youngest kids and headed for the Rocky Mountains when my older brothers took jobs in Montana and Idaho. Along the way we stayed in tiny motels where Mama cooked breakfast and supper then we had bologna and crackers as picnic lunches during the day. We saw lovely landscapes on the trip but for my mother, nothing compared to seeing her boys at the top of a switchback mountain that summer.

That kind of scenario repeated with each child. When Jimmy was in Basic Training, Mama and Daddy drove to Fort Polk, Louisiana to visit. When I worked in San Marcos, Texas during my college summers, my parents planned their vacation in the same town. Mothers never quit being mothers, no matter their kids’ ages.

In later years, after my daddy died, Mama enjoyed flying. She would grab a window seat and be perfectly content as she flew all over the country visiting her children, grandchildren and other relatives. Was she afraid of flying? Absolutely not! She figured if it was time for her eternal flight home she was in the best place to go, already surrounded by heavenly clouds.

My mother is now 98 years old and is currently recovering from hip surgery. I hear she is showing a stubborn streak in rehab, but I’m expecting her to fully recover and eventually see her 100th birthday. We’re already planning a party!

Looking back on that essay I wrote forty years ago, I find very little has changed. I still admire my mother tremendously…and…I still want to be like her when I grow up!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the beautiful moms who read my column. May your day be blessed!

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