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Monday, March 12, 2018


This scene (and so the picture) is an image I never want to forget. It is also full of reminders of these days in our life as a family. It is a record of a day in early March, 2018 - a day of sunshine and planting and doing things together. You can tell that Joe and Nora are planting seeds and seedlings. I also see trust and tenderness between an 80 year old grandfather and an almost 4 year old little girl. What the photo does not reflect that my heart does is the back story.  Nora and I read Jan Karon's book The Trellis and the Seed,  a beautifully illustrated children's book by one of my favorite authors - one I have given to all my grandchildren, usually with a package of Moonflower seeds tucked inside. I told Nora we would look to see if there were Moonflower seeds in our box of garden seeds. Joe said he had Moonflower seeds sprouting already under his growlight! Then Nora's mom found a bag of seeds collected from last years Moonflowers. So the planting is a picture of extended family and cooperation.

Now there are sprouts. We check every day for leafing and climbing. We will all watch for the first fragrant white blooms that grace us only at night, fading just as the Morning Glories begin to open!

Monday, March 5, 2018

OBU Graduation Day 1964

Joe has been going through a great many old photos and recently chose this one to scan and post on his FaceBook page captioned "1964. . . . . Mary Ann graduated from Oklahoma Baptist University, BS in Nursing. Student Nurse of the Year in Oklahoma."  Yes, there I am, 2nd from left, grinning. I am one of the few who seem to be looking at the camera. I think that is because they are all looking toward their own families who are capturing the moment. Joe was there - we married a few months before. My parents did not come because my sister was graduating from high school that May as well. I look at the picture and call almost all the names without hesitation. Barbara Nichols, on the end at the right, is the only one I am still in touch with after 54 years although I have not seen her since graduation.I know that at least 2 of the 10 women pictured have passed away.  

I still have my diploma and worked at a number of different jobs after this date, moving many times for Joe's job.But I have used knowledge and experience gained from my time at Oklahoma Baptist University every day of my life. I am not sure that I was overwhelmed with  gratitude that day (unless from relief that I had completed what I undertook) - but I am at this moment. In my 78th year I am keenly aware of the sacrifices of my parents, the amazing opportunities my education provided, the impact of friendships -  and deeply thankful for it all. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

For the Love of Oliver

Photograph by Joe D. Parker

 Oliver Hilton Parker is sunshine on this foggy day!  He has changed from baby boy to toddler as he begins to walk and explore. He is the first of our grandchildren to be a boy, and also the first to live with Joe and me. He is named for his great grandfather, Joe's Daddy - Oliver Byron Parker and his other grandfather, Kelly Hilton Edwards.. He and his Papa Joe have a special bond, a mutual admiration society. Each seems to know what the other is thinking and saying without any talking!

 I smile when I watch them together - the 80 year old grandfather and the almost 15 months boy.  They clearly adore each other Of course, Joe is crazy about all his granddaughters too. And without exception, Oliver's sister and all his girl cousins, his parents and all his other grandparents, aunts and uncles think he is special too.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

54 Valentine's Days

Joe has been scanning some old photos. This is one he posted to FaceBook recently so there have been  alot of conversations about it which are fun. Of course, the memories that rise to the surface are fun, too. It occurs to me that we did not celebrate our first Valentine's Day together until after we were married. After he was discharged from serving in the Army in late 1962, Joe went to work for Petty Geophysical Company on a seismic crew that was working at the time in Duncan, Oklahoma. Our mutual good friend Eddie Ballard told Joe that I was a student at Oklahoma Baptist University, currently doing the clinical portion of my degree studies in Oklahoma City and suggested he look me up. Although we were both from the same small town in Texas (Jacksonville) and went to the same church and  high school, he graduated a few years ahead of me. I knew him but we had never dated so I was surprised when he called one evening in early February  and asked if I would like to go out. He drove up to the City, we had dinner and went to a movie and apparently both enjoyed the evening.  I had plans for the next 2 weekends and one of those was a date for a Valentine Banquet. I don't remember anything about where that was or even the name of my date, but I do remember that after that the only person I dated was Joe. On some of our early dates, he brought T Bone Steaks and grilled them for a wonderful meal at my apartment. The old saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was true in the reverse. I am not sure he was impressed with my cooking at the time, but I was impressed with his! By October we were planning a wedding. On December 28, 1963, we said "I do."  Our friend Eddie was best man!

Now we have celebrated 54 Valentine's Days - not always together and certainly not always fancy. We have said "Be mine, Valentine"  in many different ways and different places. That first Valentine's day in 1964 in our tiny apartment in Oklahoma City was the beginning but the next one was in Corvallis, Oregon. There were Valentine celebrations in Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas. Then California, Indonesia, and back to Texas.  Cooking is one of my love languages, so most of the time I have cooked for him at home, but we have also had some wonderful meals in fine restaurants. Yesterday we were talking about our favorite restaurants from all the places and all the years.  And yes, once in awhile, he still grills T Bone steaks!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Still Part of Our Story

A story about our family and this house was among early blog posts in 2010 (I began the blog in 2009) but I found this article recently when I was sorting a box of kept stuff. Our family still mentions our experience there fondly; we never pass through Jacksonville without driving by and remembering. The historical marker acquired by my research still stands.

 This photo and article appeared in the ARCO Spark, a company periodical, while we still owned the house but after we had moved back to Plano. Little did we know at the time that 2 years later we would be living in the Los Angeles area for a year before moving home and family to Jakarta, Indonesia in 1987!

Below I have included the story I wrote in 2010.

Eudora Welty said that “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” and “There may come to be new places in our lives that are second spiritual homes closer to us in some ways, perhaps, than our original homes. But the home tie is the blood tie. And had it meant nothing to us, any other place thereafter would have meant less, and we would carry no compass inside ourselves to find home ever, anywhere at all. We would not even guess what we had missed.”

I am grateful for my growing up place, within a family helping me understand people will always be more important than place. Odd, because that family of origin mostly stayed in one place: rural and small town East Texas. Important, because after I left home at 17 for college, so many places would take their turns in becoming the place of home. One brief passage of time the leaving and the return intersected to be called home. I do believe we make our homes where we are, but there are times when we have a more intimate connection with the place of home. My favorite place happened to be at that intersection,one which my family occupied for only slightly more than a year. But I still have pictures of it hanging on my wall and a doll house replica that my grandchildren love. I think each of us would vote it our favorite house.

When my sons were 13, 10, and 8, we bought a 100 year old Victorian house on 3 acres of oaks and magnolias and pecan trees in East Texas. It was in the hometown where both my husband and I grew up, so both his mother and my parents still lived there at that time. There had been some renovation to the house in the 1940's, but not much since, so there was much that was necessary to live there safely and comfortably. We restored, repaired, renovated, and resuscitated in ways we never knew we had any skill for. We stripped the staircases to find tiger oak, pulled up carpet to find lovely wood floors, added wood burning heaters, updated plumbing and electricity and found ways that old houses need you that amazed us. It was a wonderful adventure.

During the time we were there, I did the research and writing necessary to acquire state historical landmark designation for the house, which was built for John Wesley Love in 1904, to house his wife and 13 children. He had 700 acres of peach orchards adjacent to the house, which was built near the railroad tracks. We discovered that my father and uncle had picked peaches in the orchards, and that Joe's Daddy had painted and wallpapered there in the 40's. It has been 26 years since we lived there, but I can still feel the sway of the porch swing and smell the fragrance of the wisteria dripping from the trees. It was work to live there, but it was magic.

The planned changes in my husband's job did not happen, and we knew our boys needed a father at home more than they needed a certain house, but oh, we loved it. Since we went back there for visits to relatives, we went by the house every time, and I cried every time for years!

Strangely, it took another turn of events in our family life for me to honestly say goodbye to it. Over 15 years after we left it, with the house having gone through several owners, it was very expensively refurbished and opened as a venue for receptions and weddings and other events. When my son and his fiancĂ©e planned their small wedding, we arranged to have it there. The bride’s dressing room was Sean's old bedroom! The gathering room for guests was our master bedroom. The ceremony was held in front of the fireplace in the parlor where we had celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in 1982. The wedding was wonderful; the house was grand in her new finery. She didn't need me anymore, and I felt a closure I had been unable to achieve before. Neither Joe nor I have any living relatives there anymore, but I still say hello to the house when go back to our hometown. I can almost see the 3rd story cupola window wink back at me.

I am glad that although a sign now marks it as commercial offices, that place speaks home to me. I am even more glad that after many years and many moves, I am rooted (not root bound) in my present place. I love being at home.

Monday, January 29, 2018


It is not about the movie!

 Nora and Ben made the best of our recent icy weather with a table for sand and water that she calls her water table. They filled it and she chose a variety of small toys and objects to put in the water. As the temperature fell, they would wrap up and go to check what the water was doing. When all they found was a solid block of ice, they brought it inside, set it on a plastic tablecloth in the middle of the floor, and held it up for a good look.  She was intrigued to find all the small treasures she put in captured in the ice. When we looked at the photos, we delighted in all the tiny Noras that can be seen in the ice bubbles!

Friday, January 19, 2018


Today, January 13, 2018, is a milestone birthday for our oldest son, a milestone for me too, that of the birth of my first child. I remember so well that cold morning in San Antonio when I was wakened in the early morning hours to realize this baby was on the way 2 weeks earlier than expected.

 It is strange to me to consider the moments that stand out clearly - the way we closed the front door at 5139 Happiness Lane and stopped on the porch long enough for Joe to take a picture of me, grinning  and wearing an ill fitting gray coat I had sewn for myself that winter. The front of the coat would no longer button.  I remember the lining - jewel toned paisley, and the buttons - embossed antique silver. But I do not remember the drive, or what we said to each other although I can imagine our excited conversation. I do not remember going up to the 23rd floor of the Nix Hospital on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. After I was checked into a room, I was given Demerol and Scopolamine, a common practice in those days. So even though I had expressed a desire to be awake and aware for birthing, I remember nothing of the special moments mid afternoon when I gave birth. I do remember Joe telling me that we had a beautiful baby boy. Unlike today, when most couples know gender early,  he announced that when he arrived. I remember the view from the end of the hall when I was allowed to walk there in the next days.  The window looked out on the construction site of the World's Fair held in San Antonio beginning April 6 that year.

I remember the pride and joy we shared the day we brought our tiny baby boy home. And I remember the small nursery across from our bedroom. We bought a used crib and painted it creamy white.  The only new furniture was a rocking chair my parents bought. It came unpainted; we painted it to match the crib. I made sheer yellow curtains and we hung a musical mobil over the crib which had a red rabbit among other animals.  Sean loved that red rabbit!

Today, he is a fine man with a gray beard!  He is a loving husband and father, brother and uncle. Little did I know pride and joy would multiply through the years, but they have. He is a man of integrity and honor and has weathered life storms with dignity.  He works hard, reads, speaks Norwegian, and is a fine cook and gardener.  Last night we gathered for a family meal and a loud Happy Birthday song from all of us. Happy Birthday, Sean!