Thursday, January 20, 2011


Fred, looking out the window, waiting for a return

I know I promised to talk about Zentangling, but today, Jan 20th, is my Mother's birthday and I feel the need to talk about her.

It was always 'Mother', not 'Mommy',' Mom' or the dreaded 'Ma'.  As I think about it, that suited her.  She was slightly formal, a lady in the positive sense of the word.  (Papa used to say that he never heard her say anything bad about another person)  She played piano like a dream.  She could sight read a piece perfectly the first time.  I think Papa was a little envious of that talent, because for a very long time, he attempted to learn  how to play the organ.  Sadly, he had no musical talent whatsoever and he would torture us for hours as he practiced the same piece, over and over.

Mother was raised on a farm near a very small town where most everyone was related to her.  She  spent a lot of her time with the animals on the farm.  She had a pony named Jack and a pig named Billy Bumps.  She told wonderful, funny stories about them.  It is from her that I got my love of animals.

Mother was terribly shy with folks she did not know, plus she had such bad eyesight that she could not see across a road.  Other folks thought she was stuck up, but in truth she simply could not see them.  She was very self-conscious about that, all her life.

Mother was educated in a one-room schoolhouse, but went on to collage to get a degree in library science.  For a woman of her time, this was most unusual. (Our house was always filled with books.  When Mother died, she left Papa to sort through well over 15,000 volumes) All her life,  Mother believed in education and that one should never stop learning.  She firmly believed in the value of education, so much so that she helped put 17 people (that I know of) through collage.

During her lifetime, Mother saw the beginning of the use of the automobile to mankind walking on the moon.  She remembered the celebrations at the end of WW1, what was then called simply, 'The Great War'.   Roosevelt was her political hero, and she deeply admired Eleanor Roosevelt, and in her own way, emulated her.  At the holidays, our house was always filled with folks from other countries.  She loved hearing about far-away places and encouraged folks to talk about their homes and cultures.  She was avidly curious about people and when the family started to have a little money, she and Papa traveled quite a bit.

As a teenager, Mother was very adventuresome.  At age 18, she and a friend took the model-T car for a road trip, from Illinois, all the way to Washington DC.  In those days, women did not travel with a male companion, so she was very daring.  She remembered the first time that her grandmother (a staunch Suffragist) cast a vote.  She treasured the rights that women had won.  When she married my father, she made him promise that any children they might have, would get a good education and the girls would get the same treatment as the boys.  Papa kept his word. 

Mother was deeply religious.  She would get up every day long before the rest of us so she could study her Bible lesson.  And she believed in living her religion, no matter how difficult.  But she was very open to other religions and loved to talk with folks about their beliefs.  She never belittled anyone's religion.

It must have been when I was around 12 that Mother started having her first strokes.  She never talked about it to anyone, not even Papa, but she started to lose herself.  She became slower and slower.  Most of the family thought that the loss of hearing and sight was the problem.  Papa denied anything was really wrong for as long as he could.  Mother ended up in a permanent vegetative state for the last few years of her life.

Mother would have been 101 today.  I miss her.


  1. Byrd, your words about your mother are so touching.
    My mother is still alive. She and your mother have some things in common: they are shy, they love reading books and they are religious women (my mother has a degree in Theology and was a school teacher). When I was 12 (!!!) my mother had cancer and had to be hospitalized for 3 months. Luckily the surgery went well and, after many years, she's still here with us.
    I don't know why I'm telling you this, but I wanted you to knows.
    Hugs. :)

  2. I am honored that you would share part of your story with me.

  3. this is such a beautiful tribute to your mother on her birth-anniversary. Thank you for sharing it and I am sure that she is looking upon you with joy for this. she does so sound like a wonderful lady to have known.

  4. Thank you for sharing this lovely biography of your mother. Her gentleness, openness, warmth, sharing and caring are all qualities I highly prize and attempt to emulate (sometimes more successfully than others!). If the rest of the world would hold as closely to their highest values as did she, and yet accept that others will be holding differently, there would be much greater peace on this earth.