Sunday, May 11, 2014

Legacy

In the USA, it's Mother's Day.

The lovely thing about this holiday is the opportunity to thank the generations of women who've loved and raised children.

I have an amazing mother--witty, talented, and capable--but this posting is not about her.  It's about two generations of mothers who molded her and my father.

Let me introduce you to four women from my family who forged their own paths and thereby gave permission for the rest of us to do the same.

image of tea roses


Marianna, mother to my father, was born 2 months after the Titanic sank. Raised by her widowed mother and 2 older sisters, Marianna came into her own in the Roaring 20s. An artist, student, teacher, mother, and friend, she loved her kids, grands, and greats with her own unique brand of intensity.

While I was writing I Wish, I sought her advice about a scene where my heroine takes 2-D art.

Me: What can someone with no talent learn in an art class?
Marianna:  Have her sketch her hand.
Me: Why?
Marianna: Hands speak, dear one. The wise will see past the skill.

Lacey, mother to my mother, embraced life with fervor until she left us at age 84, laughing and cooking at the stove.  She attended college, married the first time (not my grandfather) around 1930, and divorced less than a year later.  When I asked her how she found the courage to make that choice during a time when divorce was simply not done, she replied, "He was not kind. I deserved better."

Maude, grandmother to my father, loved learning about history and cultures. One of the original Oklahoma Sooners, Maude was a teacher, school administrator, and writer of textbooks.  She worked on her doctorate when it was rare for male educators to have them--much less women. After a faculty advisor warned her that Dr. Maude might have difficulty getting a job, she did all of the work but didn't accept the title. She drew the true joy from her achievement; the trappings didn't matter.

Ada, grandmother to my mother, was born in the late 19th century in the carpetbagger South. She was opinionated, droll, and strong. We called her "Big Mama;" she signed her letters "Big." Ada's connection with her identical twin Ida had a mystical dimension.  One day, late in their lives, Big Mama and I were sitting at a table in her kitchen. She looked up suddenly and gasped. "Something fearsome has happened to my sister." Five minutes later, the phone rang. It was the hospital. Ida had just died.  I asked my great-grandmother how she knew, and she said, "If you're close enough to someone, you just feel things about them."

Happy Mother's Day to all mothers and to all women who nurture children.  We, your legacy, remember what you have done and celebrate it.

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