It seems these days that I am looking back more often than forward. This afternoon, after the Mariner’s game was rained out, my thoughts turned to our mother. She was born on the hard-scrabble plains of the Oklahoma pan-handle, in 1910. She and her sisters walked a distance to a one-room schoolhouse. When they went to town, they rode in a buckboard wagon behind a team of horses. She was something of a show-off: she would climb the ladder of the windmill and swing from the platform while her older sister screamed for her to come down before she fell. Her mother had a serious heart problem which took her life while Mother was quite young. However, each night before bed, their home had to be spic-and-span: if her mother died during the night she did not want neighbors or relatives to see their home in anything but perfect condition.
The family was quite poor. Mother’s father was a part-time and not too successful farmer. He augmented the family income as a traveling salesman. The mother of one of Mother’s classmates owned a clothing store. The store had a beautiful winter coat: blue with a black velvet collar. Mother anxiously waited for her father to return from his latest sales trip. When he arrived, he brought her a new winter coat. He was so proud that he’d found one he could afford: it was brown and very plain. Mother loved him very much and nothing was ever said about the beautiful blue coat.
Through her own efforts she graduated from nursing school and became a registered nurse. When she married, the one wedding gift they received was a tablecloth. She lost two children. Her oldest daughter died of cancer at the age of nineteen. She lost a second male child through miscarriage. She lived through the Great Depression, World Wars One and Two, the Korean conflict, and Vietnam. She lived to see us land men on the moon. She lived to witness the Columbine school massacre. She died just short of the age of ninety; and one year short of 9/11/2001.