Both my parents have passed on into a better world, Dad around twenty-five years back and Mom a little over eleven. She was eighty-six. Not a day passes that I don’t think about them. You’re probably the same. You know, a few seconds here, a few seconds there.
One fact I can promise you, the older you grow, the more you think of your folks.
Mom was a country girl, born in Montague County in North Texas near the Red River in 1913. One of eight children, four boys and four girls, she lived through the dust bowl and the depression. What little cash they made came from farming, which back then was hardscrabble tedium and exhausting labor from can’t see to can’t see.
Then one day, Papa Holly loaded the whole family on a train and headed west to Childress, Texas. There, he bought a wagon, piled kids and possessions in it, and trekked seventy miles north, settling beside Highway 83 five miles north of the Prairie Dog Fork of the Red River and five south of Wheeler, Texas.
Life wasn’t easy, but no longer were they forced to live the life so depressingly depicted in the classic movie, ‘Grapes of Wrath.’ The land was more fertile. That meant more crops to grow, and extra cash.
Back then, education wasn’t as important as getting the crops in, but Mom graduated, married Dad who lived in Wheeler, and set about making a life with each other.
Papa was always looking for a better farm, and one day he moved from Wheeler County to the South Plains north of Lubbock.
Once when I was about three, she wanted to visit her parents, but dad couldn’t take off work. We didn’t have a vehicle, so Mom and her younger sister, Mae, took me and hitched from Wheeler to Lubbock, over two hundred miles.
Years later when we moved to Fort Worth, Mom never hesitated to load us in the car and drive by herself three hundred miles back to Wheeler or out to Lubbock.
She was a doting mother, sometimes too much. Her sisters were the same way. I’ve often wondered if it were because they had four brothers. Luckily for them, I guess, most of their children were boys. I was twelve before my first, and only, female cousin came along.
Mom was independent and self-sufficient. When Dad went overseas in WWII, she took care of my brother and me, ran the house, planted the fields, harvested, and then marketed the crops.
As the years passed, she held down different jobs, but none that would not permit her to take off and see about her family. She took in dry cleaning, rented out part of the old house, and finally became a realtor, a job that fit her like a fine glove.
And she was superb at the job, mainly because she was honest, caring, and willing to work her tail off.
Always in the back of her head, she was doing it for her sons,
and as so many sons, we were never as appreciative as we should have been. Only years later after we’d grown up and got some sense, did we understand.
When I apologized to her for those years, she did what ninety-five percent of mothers do, what my wife would do with our daughters, she laughed and said she always knew how I felt. That’s how mothers are.
She was a dedicated Christian and churchgoer all of her life, and she did all she could to put her sons’ feet on that path.
Dad’s death staggered her, but like the hard-headed dirt farmer she had once been, she kept the house in Fort Worth, helped raise grandkids and great grandkids. In her later years, she once told me that looking after her great grandson had added years to her life. She was still driving in her mid-eighties.
It might sound hokey or corny, but when I think about her love for her boys and the love my wife has for our daughters, I can’t help believing it is so very much like the love God has for all of us. It’s as pure a love as a mortal can give.
To all you Moms out there, thanks for everything.