My Mother was a high spirited woman. She stood a mere 4 feet 11 inches, maybe less, however her spirt was more like 6 feet. Her given name was Octavia. A name with strength and solidity. My Dad called her Tavia. Her friends called her Tav or OT. I called her Deary for some odd reason. She was born in the early part of June which by astrological terms made her a gemini. The traits of the sign proved very true with my Mother because she could be laughing in the morning and by afternoon angry as a hornet.
I always tried to keep her laughing because she could laugh until tears rolled down her cheeks and to me that was a good thing. She had an odd sense of humor. Finding something funny that the rest of the world may find rather strange or bazaar. One time she almost backed the farm truck over my Dad who was bent down picking up something. He stood just in time for her to see him in the rear view mirror. It cracked her up so, that she laughed about it the rest of her life. All one need to do was make mention and she went into hysterical laughter. Saying that my Dad had the strangest, shocked look on his face. I can still hear her giggle, which was infectious.
She was a very hard working woman. She seem to be able to cram a lot into one day and thrive on very little sleep. Perhaps that was because there was just so much to do. She became a nurse in her later years. At 52 actually when a lot of people were taking early retirement, my Mother was beginning a new career. A new demanding career. Once out of nursing school she would spend the rest of her working career with the Shrine Burn Hospital on Galveston Island. She worked until she was 72 and probably would have gone longer if allowed to do so. She loved being a nurse and seemed to be very good at it. It takes a special person to see beyond the disfigurement that burns can do and the patients all were children. Some with deplorable stories of how their injuries happen. Many resulting from intentional action. Way beyond anything that most of us could fathom.
Somehow through all the years and all the long hours, she still managed to turn out a nice dinner for the family many times, well most times followed by a delicious pie or cake. She loved her deserts and loved to bake. I think it may have been a release for her. Baking. She taught me some things about cooking however not many. I knew more about pie dough then I did how to really cook.
Since we did not have a lot of money she taught me to sew at an early age. I think I must have been 8 or 9. I learned to embroidery before that to make Christmas gifts. For one with such a high spirit and the need to be active, it was amazing that she had the patience to teach me anything. Sewing though meant that I could make my own clothing and I did for a long, long time. Even after my daughter was born, I made most of our clothing. So her instruction served me well. And so did the baking which I so enjoy although now try to avoid sugar so have to find more creative ways to apply the baking skills I learned early on.
She loved country music and would sing at the top of her lungs, as they say. She could not carry a note however she didn’t really care. My Dad who had the professional singing background just shook his head and let her be. Her favorite was “Your Cheating Heart” by Patsy Cline….oh could she sing that. I can still hear her voice traveling across the farm and the cows looking toward the window from which the song flowed. Maybe that is how buttermilk happens.
Growing up, I liked to think I was close to her yet in later years I had to face, I was not. A much older cousin once said to me, just remember she means well. And that is how I came to see her. That she meant well deep in her heart however her spirit sometime really revved things up a notch or two making it difficult to think good intentions were anywhere around.
She liked to have a good time and she always like to be on the go. Especially in later years. It was difficult to find her home or even reach her sometimes because she was at this meeting or that. Well into her late 80s she was the driver for her friends and they would venture to other towns for association meetings driving home late into the night. And speed was not something that made her nervous…she put the pedal to the metal and moved down the highway at a rather quick clip all the while barely seeing over the steering wheel.
If one invited her to lunch or dinner, you were greeted with her standing at the door waiting, purse in hand. She was always that eager to go anywhere. Do most anything. She wasn’t much of a dare devil although for her 85 birthday, my sister and I gave her a Harley party. A guy with a Harley showed up in full riding leathers to take her for a ride. She jumped on the back of his bike as if she had done it a million times. Grabbed him around his belly and off they went with my Mother laughing with such joy. For years she had teased my Dad that she was going to buy a motorcycle with a side car and put him in the side car. It was an image that still comes to my mind.
She was good to her friends who depended on her in many ways other then a ride here or there. She would have long conversations with them and listen to their woes. She would take them gifts or bake them a cake for their birthday. She never forgot someone’s birthday. A trait passed on to all of us in the family. She did think of others a lot yet she could also be hard on them with the advice of “kick yourself in the butt and keep going”. Actually good advice.
She had a devilish little smile which I knew is what must have drawn my Dad into caring so deeply for her. They did not have the best marriage however somewhere mixed in all that garbage was love. It was not something that was said to any of us. I guess there just wasn’t time. Yet we all knew that she was the core of the family and that she more or less ruled. It is true of most Mothers. They have so much responsibility as my Mother did that they have to take the helm and lead.
So on this Mother’s Day I remember my Mother and if she was still with us, I would take her to lunch knowing that she would be waiting with her purse and anxious to go not caring particularly where, just as long as she was going somewhere. And if she was still with us, I would try to make her laugh because she could laugh with such abandon once she got going. And just as I did as a child, I probably would bring her flowers which she would act like she liked. She is no longer here, so I have to just hear the giggles in my head and know she is laughing with abandon on this Mother’s Day as she flits around in that castle high above the clouds, no longer having to wait with purse in hand.
To all the Mothers whether it be to children, cats or dogs. Cows or horses. It is a day to honor and remember you for a job well done.
Happy Mother’s Day.