This picture of my mother was taken probably before I was walking. And judging by the look on her face, it was taken by my dad. Mama was really beautiful when she was a young woman, and she gained in a certain inner beauty as she aged. She never had a chance to REALLY age, though, since she died at 69.
I was the oldest of 7 children. As you can see from the picture above, she had big brown eyes, which are supposed to be dominant over blue eyes. But Daddy's blue ones were inherited by all his daughters, and my brother has Mama's brown eyes. None of us turned out with a mixture (or hazel). One daughter, my sister Tina Maria, was born prematurely and died shortly after birth, so we never found out about her eye color. The rest of the six of us are still around. My parents had three children in 7 years, and then they stopped having kids for awhile.
When I was 16, my mother got pregnant with my brother, Buz, and Daddy was so ecstatic when he had a son that he went out and bought a brand-new baby blue station wagon. Mama then had three more girls in quick succession: I have a sister who was the same age as my son, and a sister who was a year younger than him!
Mama and Daddy were married from the time she was 18 in November 1941 until Daddy died in 1979, almost 40 years. They had a marriage like many others: some good times, some bad times, but there is no doubt in my mind that they loved each other through it all. And they raised their children to be productive, ethical, and really decent members of society. Every last one of us.
Mama was a character. I love this picture of her, busy going through the mail, paying the bills, sporting blue cowboy boots. She was the responsible one with money. Daddy would spend it when he had it, and not worry about tomorrow. Mama and Daddy had real differences about money, and I guess this is pretty much a worry that drives many couples apart. But Daddy usually deferred to her, since he knew that about himself. Daddy made the money, and Mama spent it.
She never worked for a paycheck during her entire life. I think she felt that somehow it gave her less credibility in the eyes of the world. She was embarrassed by it, I think. But I have never, in my entire life, known anyone who worked harder during her lifetime than my mother. When her children were grown, she volunteered at the local hospital as a "Gray Lady." Somewhere I have a picture of her proudly showing off her uniform.
I took this picture of Mama in Boulder when she came to visit me, in the late 1980s. She had great legs, and she knew she was still a looker. But after Daddy died, she fended off the well-meaning friends who tried to hook her up with a replacement. She was lonely, I know, but it was impossible to replace someone who was such a part of her life.
I was jealous of the love my mother poured into her youngest daughter. One day I shared that with my sister, and she reassured me that Mama loved me too, I just couldn't see it. I grew closer to Mama when she was no longer here, and I learned the truth of that reassurance. Every memory I have, even the ones where she was being difficult, have become poignant reminders of who she was, and how much my life is diminished without her continued presence. Mama, I will always love you, and I look forward with joy to the day when we will see each other again.