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I remember mama


Mary Jane Owen

  I hope you are thinking about your own Mother this week. If you are not, by all means do stop to reflect upon the things that she did that have stuck with, and sustained you even to this very day.

  Our Mother was very strong. She had to be to live with our Dad who was a high wire walker, a man’s man, devoted to her but not all that romantic. He loved her dearly, was a good, decent man and a great Dad. She had the good sense to delay marriage as she gathered wisdom, experience and hardest of all landed a man who had the approval of her hard-to-please father. Her feet were planted firmly on the ground and she understood that life was a real gift not to be taken lightly, but treated with a grateful, joyful heart. She was an accomplished and beautiful LADY.

  Following her sojourn at Georgia State College for Women, Mother spent several years teaching at Locust Grove School and later at her old alma mater, Hampton. No doubt these were happy years as she recalled them. And by the way, she was a “flapper.” Yep! A flapper of the Roaring Twenties. One of my favorite photographs of her was taken about the time she finished school. There she is in black and white, pictured with her hair fashioned in a “bob,” pouty lips and a rather sultry “come hither’  look popularized by the talking movies. She could “cut a rug” meaning she did a great “Charleston’  which I recall seeing only one time. She remained a great looking woman until the end of her life and could, when encouraged, tell a good story, imitating almost anybody. When she was not too busy cooking, sewing, housekeeping, she was great fun.

  Only fifty years old when my Dad died, she resumed teaching, then retired and began a whole new career working at the courthouse in the court Clerk’s office. There she assisted young lawyers as they researched records. She made many new friends both old and young. A great tale can now be told about one of these “friends,” a contemporary and childhood friend of my Dad’s. This man, who shall remain unnamed was really struck by my lovely Mother and he, encouraged by others of the courthouse gang, pursued her rather aggressively. Finally Mother gave her consent to see the man ONE time. The condition was that the date would be on her terms and the assignment for making the arrangements was given to me. My plan was that my husband and I would accompany Mother and beaux to a Braves game. I figured this was fairly neutral ground, that the man likely had the same tastes and interests as my Dad and my Mother could abide baseball if only for one evening. Well it went just fine, but I must say my Mother was not all that fired up to have a repeat “date.” Would-be suitor did not give up easily and shortly after the ball game date, he sent Mother via Welch’s Flower Shop a gigantic bouquet of roses. Sorry, wrong move. The shop proprietor was a teacher colleague and friend of my Mother’s and hence KNEW what Mother preferred to be kept secret. Completely undone, Mother placed the flowers in an obscure place, allowing only my sister and me to see the “love offering.” All was well, the secret apparently safe until one afternoon Mother happened to look out the window to see a welcomed visitor, my Dad’s niece, Mary Lee,” dear to my Mother, but not one with whom she wished to share her secret. Hurriedly she ran, snatched up the flowers and stashed them in a closet where I assume they stayed hidden until they finally wilted. So too went the romance. AS far as I know this whole episode has remained a secret until just now. I still love the story until this day.

  Like most of you I have stuff running around in my head Mother’s lessons. In conclusion, I’ll share my list with you. I encourage you to sit quietly and reflect on stuff that, at the time meant little, but has great practical and philosophical meaning today. Here are just a few that come to mind:

1. Never leave home wearing dirty underwear. You never know when you might have to go to the hospital.

2. Always say “please,” “thank you,” “I enjoyed the ___,” no matter what.”

3. Clean your plate, put your napkin in your lap and take your elbows off the table.

4. Speak with respect to your elders.

5. The teacher is always right.

6. I don’t care who started it, you are bigger and older than…. (you know who, sister).

7. Can’t you be still? (A minimum of five times a day!)

8. Do not wipe your nose on your sleeve.

9. Look both ways.

10. Keep your knees together when you sit. That’s what ladies do.

  I owe her a lot. She stood by me in thick and thin even if she may have wanted to say “I told you so.” She never did, and I gave her plenty she could have crowed about. May the Good Lord bless her and all others like her.




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