Monday, July 13, 2009

My Mama

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.


  1. Beautiful tribute to your lovely mother. What a bond the mother/daughter relationship.

  2. DJan that is a lovely post about your mother and it is very touching. She was a beautiful lady indeed and I know what it is like to miss your mother (and your father). It must have been so different having brothers and sisters when you were little – I did not have any. Both of my parents are gone too and I shall have more posts on them in the future. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  3. You wrote a beautiful tribute to your mother. She sounds like she was a lovely woman and a beauty for sure. The blue cowboy boots were very cool. :D

  4. Funny how Mom used to seem so frail and fragile when I was a kid, having been checked into the hospital so many times for one thing or another, often away from home for months at a time -- months that must have added up to years -- while Dad did his best to raise us kids (i.e., the "second set of kids") without her around. But when Dad died, she somehow became a great pillar of strength in her own right, in spite of her continuing physical ailments. That's how I will always remember her, as a very strong and loving woman. And I'm so glad Trish got to know her.

  5. I think all Mothers should be given a tribute for all the sacrifices she did for us. Your Mom is a beautiful woman, DJan.


  6. I love your tribute,so touching.I always enjoy your posts.

  7. Beautiful memories of Mom, thanks Jan. Made me smile (and cry). I also was jealous of the special bond between Mom and Fia - I think I was difficult for her to get to know and then I was so far away...
    After becoming a mother myself I wanted to apologize to her SO MANY TIMES, but she was gone. Thank you for the chance to remember. Love you.

  8. Thanks for sharing your memories of your mother and your family. I love these kinds of posts in which we catch a glimpse of real people who changed the world. Her beauty and grace shine through the years and across cyber space through your words and photos.
    I see you in her.
    PS -- LOVE the blue boots...


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