Photo reminds me of mama

Rick Watson
Posted 5/14/17

Looking through Facebook posts of my friends this week, I felt a little envious and sad. It seems every other post is someone’s smiling mother.

I especially like the older hand-tinted pictures. There’s something about those old photographs …

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Photo reminds me of mama

Posted

Looking through Facebook posts of my friends this week, I felt a little envious and sad. It seems every other post is someone’s smiling mother.

I especially like the older hand-tinted pictures. There’s something about those old photographs that makes them lifelike. When my mom died on Feb. 20, 2012, she left an empty place in my heart that will never be filled.

My mother was a piece of work. Her life path took her through hard times. Like many families back then, her’s was a big one. She and her siblings could have fielded a football team with an extra one serving as a water boy. Born in 1924, she suffered through the Great Depression and knew the taste of hunger. As a result, she was reluctant to throw anything away. Even aluminum pie plates were washed and reused after the pies were gone.

She was quiet and easy-going most of the time, but when something got her hackles up, we all knew to give her some space. We found it necessary to do homework, or chores that took us outside. She also didn’t make it a habit of telling her kids to do something more than once. As a kid, whenever I considered ignoring one of her requests, I remembered the hickory stripes on my leg. That gave me the motivation to take out the scuttle of coal ash left from the fireplace hearth each morning or empty the slop jar.

She was slow to cry. In fact, it was years before I saw tears in her eyes. Maybe it was growing up during those hard years that made her feel that crying was a sign of weakness. The first time I remember seeing her cry was when my older brother Neil graduated from high school. Of course, those were tears of pride. Neil was not a model student. There were some report cards during his high school years that bled with red “F’s.” She was unconvinced that Neil would walk down the aisle wearing a cap and gown. But he pulled it together, and she was as proud as I’ve ever seen her.

One by one, the kids all moved from the old house in Sloss to make lives of their own. When my dad died in 1986, she lived alone in that house for years. Each Sunday she cooked dinner. At first, it was for her kids and grandkids, but it evolved into a community event. It was not uncommon to arrive at lunch on Sunday with a yard full of cars. Our family, cousins, friends, and her church buddies all broke bread together. The laughter was loud and no one left without a go-box with butterbeans, cornbread, and a slice of pecan or lemon meringue pie. If anyone left hungry, it was not her fault.

I have one of those old hand-tinted pictures of my mom and dad on the mantel of our fireplace. A friend of theirs snapped the photograph on their wedding day. Some of our pictures and knickknacks blend into the background of our home and become invisible. But not this one. I look at it every day and think about my mama.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book, “Life Goes On,” is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email at rick@rickwatson-writer.com.