Thursday, November 1, 2007


October 20, 2005 my mother died. Mother had strong opinions on how things should be done (do you all see I come by this naturally?), and she was insistent on that up to the end; she left us HER way, in her home, in her bed, with her six kids holding her in their arms. Five of us kids were with her all day, when the sixth one was finally there, she smiled and left us. The saddest moment of my life has also become my most cherished memory!

This is a picture of us taken December 2003. Mother lived in Nashville and she came to California to spend Christmas with us as it had been about 10 years since she shared a holiday with her kids on the West Coast.

Mother was born Bettye Jean Jacobs on September 5th, 1930 in Chattanoga, Tennessee. She was the oldest of three daughters. Mother attended Howard School up to the 6th grade then asked her parents if she could quit school and they said yes! Can you even IMAGINE letting your kids quit school after elementary? But she was very smart! That always amazed me and I think at times she amazed herself!!! Mother went to school when there was still prayer in school. She would often comment about the sad state of affairs since prayer was taken out of school. Makes you go h-m-m-m!

She was a great dancer! In her late teens she taught jitter-bug at a dance studio! If she was at a party or dance she was asked to dance all night! Even up through her 50's!!! I think we all got our love of music from her. I remember a day in 1965 I came home from school to find Mother crying. WHOA, my heart jumped in my throat, I ran to her, Mother, what's happened? Please tell me! She was sobbing...Nat King Cole died! HUH? Nat King Cole! she said. Do you mean the guy whose albums you play all the time? Yes, she said. I'm like...did you know him???? She was NOT amused. But seriously, I didn't know at the time how much she cared for this guy and at just 14, I didn't know anything about caring for an entertainer so strongly.

Mother had moved to California in 1953 when I was two years old. By 1965 she was left alone to raise six kids, and she did it well! Of course she had to do it on welfare because there was no support coming in, but she managed to keep a roof over our heads, see that we always had food on the table and were clothed. Were we perfect? Were we angels? NO! Did we ever make her angry at us, YES! But there was not one day that went by that we didn't know how much we were LOVED! When we came home from school she would listen to our silly stories of what happened that day and she would laugh and/or cry right along with us! If we had trouble at school, she would walk to the school (yeah, we didn't have a car either) to talk with the teacher and/or principal about steps to take to resolve it. She was always in our corner, even when we were wrong and were punished, she would still let us know that she was there for us. When Mother found out she was sick July of 2005 we would often talk on the phone and she told me, I'm not afraid to die, I just don't want to say good-bye to my babies! There we all were in our 40's and 50's and she still thought of us as her babies! Growing up she would always tell us to love each other and always be there for each other. We would say, yes Mother, sure Mother. But do you want to know something? We six all get along, all love each other, and are always there for each other. Her legacy lives on!

My Mother never complained about her circumstances. She played the hand she was delt and made the best of it. I often wonder if I have that same strength, it's hard to imagine that I wouldn't complain! I complain when we're out of coffee!

It's been two years and I still grab the phone to call her and tell her somthing interesting (at least to me) about what's going on with us here at home or with my brothers and sister. I miss talking to her, I miss hearing her voice, I miss the jokes she used to tell and the stories she shared with us about her family and growing up. I miss her hugs and kisses. But I don't have to miss her LOVE because it will always be in my heart and I will always receive it from my brothers and sister and always give it right back to them! Yes, her legacy of love will live on in us and through our children and grandchildren. THANKS FOR EVERYTHING MOTHER!

1 comment:

Michelle McVaney said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your mother. I can't wait to see it compiled as a scrapbook page! Your mother sounds like an amazing woman.