I Remember Mama
GRATITUDE: A crone feels gratitude. I’ve always been quick to list my many blessings. However, for some reason lately I’ve begun to feel intense gratitude. Really feeling the gratitude has made a huge difference in my outlook. Sometimes while I am out on my walk, I lift my arms and say, “Eternal Spirit, Mother, Father, God, Thank you.” Then I call out those things that fill my soul with thanksgiving. I mostly do this when there is no one about to hear, but if I am overheard, it won’t matter. It is hard to embarrass a crone.
Mama at Eight
Today is the anniversary of my mother’s birth. I should always list her first when I list my blessings. Both my mother and my mother-in-law were women with extraordinarily strong personalities. I plan to write about my mother-in-law, Rose Myers, soon, but I am not sure I will ever write about Mama. How could I ever hope to contain her with words?
I know my siblings feel the same way. However, they have always helped me, so they didn’t refuse my request to write about our mother on her birthday. They even abided by the word limit I gave them. Their names are above their memories.
L. D. Hoover
Nobody could have asked for a better Mama. Loving. Strong. Smart. Determined. Words that describe her before and after she gave birth to me when she was a few weeks shy of 42. I was by far the youngest of eight.
Mama, nobody ever called her mother or mom, was a true Oklahoma woman. She started with nothing and finished with little more. She gave all she had to us.
On the 106th anniversary of your birth, we honor you, Mama. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
However, as the youngest -often called “smart-aleck”- I have a few questions:
Weren’t you really half Jewish and half Italian? Why else would you have been cooking more than I could possibly eat and being so worried when I showed interest in a girl?
Where did you get that amazing radar for which the military would have paid millions? It could sniff out beer or perfume at a million miles! It could even tell I “had something going” with a woman you saw only when the two of us were on a television talk show.
Why did you drive my car to Oklahoma City and back to Chandler with the emergency brake on? I had to try to fix the brakes on the day man landed on the moon.
Why did you refuse to let me learn guitar when I was a teenager because it “would lead to bad things,” only to buy a guitar and try to teach yourself to play it when I was grown?
I think I know. It’s because you cared so much. It’s the same reason you borrowed $400 dollars from a high-interest loan company so I could pay for college the second semester. The same reason you told me to use your charge account at Hellman’s Department Store when clothes were needed for a special occasion.
Mama’s decisions were not always welcomed and not always right. But there is no question they were made based on the same love and strength that made her such a remarkable Oklahoma woman. They were shared by our loving Father, Ross.
They are the values that flow through all of their descendants.
Happy Birthday, Mama!
Linnie Hoover Howell
The dictionary defines the word as a female human parent. Three short words to describe the woman who, if not the most important person in one's life, is certainly right up there near the top. The dictionary doesn't begin to tell what that word means.
My Mama could never have been Mother, Mom, or any of the other titles some use to identify that female human parent. She was simply Mama to her seven children and two of her grandchildren. Even her husband (Daddy) called her Mama. She was born Cecil Eaton on November 8, 1907, in Indian Territory, only days before Oklahoma became a state. Today is the one hundred sixth anniversary of her birth. My sister, The Crone, chose this date and method to "remember Mama."
I have very few family memories before about sixth grade. One of them is when we were living in Cashion and Mama had some or all of her teeth extracted. I remember being up late with her and applying hot cloths to her jaws, which I now know was the wrong treatment. My next clear memory of Mama is when she and my infant brother came home from the hospital. Perhaps both those events stand out in memory because I knew she was in pain. In later years, the alleviation of Mama's pain was of major importance in the lives of her family. There were hard years at the end of her life, for her and everyone who loved her.
The years between the beginning and the end were memorable, filled with laughter, tears, and much love. Mama could laugh like no one I've ever known. She gave it her all. She could worry and cry with the same vehemence. When we heard Mama scream in the kitchen, we didn't know whether she was injured or thought she had salted the gravy twice. We depended on her and she also depended on us. A typical remark was "kids, I've lost my purse," which would set us all to finding it.
All her adult life, Mama loved her "kids" above all else. She managed to always have available what we most needed. There was good food, warmth, clean clothes, and an abundance of love. Mama was a true blessing to all of us. If our own descendants can say the same for us then we will have succeeded in paying her the tribute she deserves.
I love you Mama; see you later.
My parents, Cecil and Ross Hoover
Shirley Hoover Biggers
Texas morning, 4-12-42: Our dear Anna’s birth at home: Mama allowed me (almost six) on her bed near her to eat lunch Daddy’d prepared. 1943, Dolly with closing eyes under Christmas tree. Annual yellow Easter/birthday dresses. Rationed brown oxfords/pink anklets from Mrs. Reeves’ Stonewall store… 1946 church Christmas program - yellow sweater Mama let me unwrap early. Cream-of-wheat, Cashion’s frosty mornings. Fried chicken, okry, roast’nears, flaky-crusted pies! White eighth-grade-graduation dress. Deer Creek HS schoolbus delivers ravenous me home to waiting beef/gravy over mashed potatoes. Surprise clock-radio (pink) left at my dorm room. Navy suit for first teaching job interview. Tan maternity outfit mailed to Florida for first pregnancy. Mama's merciful train journey to St. Louis after my second childbirth. Pink layette/baby shoes sent to Memphis, welcoming our youngest. Granddaughters’ birthday cards, dollars enclosed. Affectionate relationship with my Charlie, recipient of her Collector’s Avon bottles.
Twenty-two years separated Mama’s first and last son. She painstakingly reared seven children. I’m fifth-born, first girl after her first daughter’s infant death. I wonder: did this create my bond with Mama, beginning with my umbilical cord, surviving the clipping of her silver cord? She died on the eve of her firstborn’s sixty-fifth birthday, consummate mother to the end. Calling Ann Ramona (dead sixty-two years), Mama, semi-conscious but well-pleased, had lately mused: “Four boys and four girls.”
A paraplegic her last decade, Mama lived at home. Daddy helped her until his death, their children always, and professional caregivers. She rejected invalid. Forever industrious, she’d devotedly tended house and family. So two sons made Mama’s kitchen wheelchair-accessible; she traveled to Memphis weddings, twice more for extended stays.
Charles observed that Mama, resources limited, somehow spoiled us all, including ten grandkids. She’d have delighted in #11, her beloved baby’s son (Daddy’s namesake); would've cherished the latest great-grandchild, Her own namesake.
Oklahoma evening, 9-26-92: Since 1958 I’ve lived far away but remained close to birth family. From Memphis I arrive at my unconscious mother’s hospital room. To dress her bedsore, the nurse soon orders family out. Linnie and I see the others off - returning, learn Mama has slipped away. Waiting beside her body, I say, “I believe Mama knew I got here.” [The bond] “She always waited for me to come.” Sweet Linnie replies,“And you always did.”
A representative memory, 1989: Wearing a housecoat, Mama on her motorized cart models a Dutch cap she’d requested from our Holland trip. Indomitable.