On Mother’s Day, my stepson came to spend a couple of days with us and when he’s here he and his mother just love to sit and talk which reminds me so much of my own mother and me, God rest her beautiful soul……. I couldn’t have given her anything she loved more than to just sit and talk for as long as I could stay.
My mother’s name was Ruby, and she was a gem that represented the highest qualities of a southern woman and lady; not the qualities that needed money and social standing to be noticed but qualities of the highest order of character. She was raised on a farm with several brothers, sisters, and cousins and could hold her own with most men working in the field. She was sought after by several young men of the community because of her obvious beautiful moral and physical qualities but, as she uses to tell me, she could resist almost all the boys but her heart never stood a chance resisting my father’s wonderful, fun-loving spirit and his dancing, “Oh, he could dance”, she’d say with joy in her eyes —— When they were twenty, my dad had saved up enough for a ring and they were married.
Life is joyful when we’re young, setting the stage to start our families and carry on the great hope and traditions of America. Wonderful America, this great nation we’ve been given by God and by all our forefathers from their strength of character and zeal for life —– but great nations come at a great price, and in 1942 my father joined the US Navy to contribute our little family’s part to the continued freedom and joy that we Americans believe in and are willing to die for.
After we consider the price our fighting men and women pay in our wars, we then think of the families that hold down the home front and wait with open arms for the men to come home. And so, at three years old, I and my mother were there for my dad. He, unlike thousands, had survived the hell and madness of Hitler and Japan’s Emperor, Hirohito.
My father came home a very mentally and emotionally damaged man after being sunk twice by Hitler’s submarines. The Atlantic Ocean was a huge scary place before they torpedo your ship out from under you; can you imagine how frightening it must have been with nothing but a rubber lifeboat between you and the deepest, coldest, shark-infested, and German U-boat infested ocean in the world? I have a great imagination, but I don’t think I can begin to imagine what that must have felt like……….
Incredibly, after my father survived all the horrendous circumstances of that great war, and just two weeks after getting home to me and my mother, he had his right hand, (his dominant hand) cut completely off by an accident with a big machine in a textile mill. Daddy survived the war, and he would survive losing his hand but survive is the keyword because all the traumas cut very deep into his mind and spirit.
Now, it was my mother’s turn to pay another part of the great price our little family was paying to win World War Two and keep America free.
Ruby, my mother, was a paragon of strength; she stepped in and met every need our little family had. She worked every day to financially support us and at night she filled my father and me and our little one-room house, (yes one-room house), full of love and security.
This went on until daddy was physically, mentally, and emotionally able to go to work. Finally, after a few years, our family got on its feet; we bought a car, we moved to Florida, and began to prosper. My dad still had a lot of problems, but he was definitely an old school guy and didn’t know the word quit; mostly because he had his incredible wife, Ruby, and when he and I needed strength, she carried us, and when he would get deeply frustrated with trying to learn how to handle the world with one hand and forget the word love she reminded him; she was the four walls and the glue for our little home, We were a family because of mama. Even when some of the young boys from my mother’s family would decide they couldn’t take the farm life anymore they’d come to our house, to Ruby and Woody for help.
All these years went deep into me, I was just a third adult— small and immature but handling adult subjects. In a one-room house and dire circumstances, there’s not a lot you can hide. I could pretty well understand the hard times, but it took many years to understand my father’s rage and even longer to understand the depth of my mother’s love.
Mama, I know I haven’t really done you justice in this little note but seeing my stepson and Verma in the beautiful mother/son ritual just brought tears to my eyes and I just wanted to say I love you on your special day.