My husband and I finally bought a new computer for each other at Christmas. I wanted to watch a disc that the funeral home had prepared for us the day of my mother’s funeral. I just watched it and cried. There are many reasons to cry. I cried because my mother is no longer here … I still talk to her when I feel the need, I still have wonderful memories of her and my growing-up years, her wacky sense of humor and her many dreams. My mother led a varied and unusual life. Her name was Eula Eileen and I miss her very much. I miss the woman she was when I was growing up and reaching for my dreams. I miss the woman who loved me and realized my short-comings and gifts. Mother was not the fearful type, she just put one foot in front of the other and went on. She grew-up in the mid-west state of Illinois in a nice secure home until the depression. Her father, my grandfather, lost his business and home, along with many others during that time. My grandfather did not adjust well to all the losses and moved on … to another state, Oregon to find himself. My grandmother took her two children, mother, and Uncle Dean to her parents home down in Ramsay Creek bottom (as my mother referred to it). It was a farm, a sharecropper’s farm, not too far from where mother grew up.
When my mother described her childhood, you would have thought the farm was many miles away from where she had lived with her parents. She spoke of missing her mother and wondering why she very seldom came to see her and uncle Dean. Grandma had become a pie maker in town and lived above the little restaurant where she worked. Mother spoke of all the chores she and uncle Dean had to perform; cleaning, gathering, walking quite a distance, no running water, no electricity. Mother and uncle Dean would wait at the end of the lane for their mother to come and visit them on the weekends, disappointment would follow when she did not show. Mother developed a rash on her legs when she was around fourteen years old, coal oil would not cure it, so she moved into town, Taylorville, with her aunt Netta and her cousin Derald. Aunt Netta owned her own Beauty Salon and mother helped her with chores, babysitting and cooking. Mother was so happy to be away from the farm and all it represented to her. She met people, made friends, had boyfriends and went to high school, did the jitterbug and had her first crush with a boy named Bob. Mother decided to leave Illinios and went to Los Angeles, California. She lived in many apartments with a multitude of roommates for a few years, during the War. She worked for Southern Pacific Railroad and as a model for furs. Mother met my dad in the early forties and they married in 1943. Dad was a Navy man and they went to Honolulu, Hawaii, where I was born in 1949. Eula Eileen traveled and moved many times during the twenty-two years she was married to my father. Mother saw the world, the best and the worst parts of it. Dad was from Shelbyville, Illinois … they knew each other back in the day. I believe she told me they had danced the jitterbug at the Old Mill a few times.
I know that my mothers childhood was no fairytale, I often wonder what uncle Dean did when mother left for aunt Nettas, it must have been lonely there for her little brother. Mother was seven years old when her father left for the wilderness and her mother became a piemaker in town. Uncle Dean was three years younger than mother and a diabetic on top of that. Uncle Dean became a mechanic and married with two girls, Lisa and Pattie. We lost uncle Dean in the 80’s to heart disease. My grandmother was still with us when she lost her son, my uncle Dean. I wonder if mother ever thought about how uncle Dean faired after she left or how her mother coped with so many losses? I lost my mother on July 19th of 2006, after eighteen months in a nursing home, a place she never wanted to go. If, mother had any fears, it was of growing old. She had congestive heart failure and would not have lived many more years but a caregiver at the nursing home broke her arm and from that time on, she lived in a downward spiral. The doctors tell me that heart disease runs in our family … yeah, more like a broken heart. I miss my mother and I am in my fifties! Eula Eileen was a special woman, we all are in our own way. I feel guilty, isolated, orphaned, alone and without the mother who loved me. I miss you mother.