When I remember my Mom I recall so many things. I recall her quick wit, her love of gardening and flowers. I recall it was she who pushed our family to take trips across the USA. It was she who cooked Sunday dinners after church. There are just too many memories which fill my mind.
On occasion the memories spill over and a new one – from the depths of time remind me how special she was – and how much good she did in the community. I think of one such memory from more than 50 years ago.
My Mom was the force behind a Blue Bird/Camp Fire Group in Kountze. She decided the town needed such a group once she learned the local Girl Scouts group was excluding so many. She set out to amend what she considered wrong thinking, wrong behavior.
The Blue Bird group was open to anyone. No one was turned away. I recall one classmate – Doris whose waif like appearance and abusive home life would pull the heart strings of anyone with an ounce of blood in their veins.
Doris wanted to join but there was a catch – it cost a small sum to join. I don’t recall how much but it was too much for Doris and her family. Doris’s dad spent more time in jail than out and was according to Doris fond of drink. Doris wanted to join our group more than anyone but she did not have the funds. I remember her mother timidly asking my Mom if she could pay when she could? Mom of course said yes.
Doris’s mom was a small woman, plainly dressed with her hair pulled back in a bun. Her difficult life was not hard to see on her weathered face but it was clear she loved her daughter and she wanted her to have as good a life as she could provide. I remember Doris’s mom approached Mom after a Blue Bird meeting and stated she wanted to pay what she could. From her purse she removed a well worn handkerchief and counted out several quarters. She handed the coins to Mom and remarked she would try to pay the rest the next month. Mom thanked her and I can’t be certain but I could swear I saw a tear in her eyes. I know there must have been one in mine.
The next meeting Doris’s mom did pay the balance. She beamed as she handed the money to my Mom. It was a victory for her. She might have to face an uncertain future at home but that day – she had won. Her daughter was a Blue Bird and she could not have been prouder.
Doris visited our home and we enjoyed her honesty and intelligence. We made her feel as if she was one of the clan. Within a few years Doris and her family moved away and I did not see her for several years. I heard she was living in Beaumont. I hoped she was ok.
One day I saw Doris – riding on a bike – in Kountze. She whizzed by me and yelled hello. She circled back before I could respond. We were older – in our teens – and life had sent us on different paths. She still had that bright smile and sparkle in her eyes. Before she left – she said Mama said hello. That voice is in my head – and so is the image of that sweet Mama whose gentle spirit helped her young daughter to find stability even in a world of abuse and uncertainty.
I know the image of my Mom – of my parents – who were faithful to their children, their family, their community is in mine.