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Monday, April 23, 2018


I miss the storytelling when I go weeks without working on this blog. There have been very few times that has happened. The reasons are almost always the same: family circumstance and illness.

This time is no exception. In addition to problems occurring during travel with our son and granddaughters, 2 weeks ago Joe woke up unable to see anything at all. Since he only has one eye, when that eye is affected, the result is grim. We have excellent medical resources here and he is being treated by a retina specialist. He has 2 kinds of glaucoma which has resulted in dangerously high intraocular pressure and severe pain plus vision loss.  Last week he had laser surgery on the eye. There is some improvement but his vision is still very poor. Our hopes and prayers are that there will be continued healing and improved vision. We are no strangers to eye disease. Our youngest son was diagnosed with Cone Rod Dystrophy when he was  10, resulting in severe vision loss. His experience and spirit have been important to Joe as he deals with this latest issue of his own. I had cornea transplants. The first one was 12 years ago next month. The other eye received a transplant 2 months later. None of these issues appear related. Although none of them have been something we would have chosen, I realize that our combined experiences have given us a strength and connections with medical experts that is a phenomenal resource as we wait for the results for Joe.

Enough for today. It is not always true that one picture is worth a thousand words.

Friday, March 23, 2018


Every year in late winter, trail riders make their way on horseback and in wagons through outlying areas of Houston to gather for the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. As the dates approach, western hats and gear appear everywhere, even if those wearing them are not on the way to the rodeo. Nora has her boots and vest and hat, but it is not easy to find gear for a tiny baby boy who has not been walking very long, so I decided to I would make Oliver a vest, complete with a badge for the newest sheriff in town.  When I was helping him try it on, I thought about all the stitches that sewing machine and I have made together. I bought it around 1961, when I was still a student at Oklahoma Baptist University. In 1963 I used that machine to make my wedding gown!

I don't spend as much time sewing these days, but my faithful stitcher is ready to work when I am. It has been my helper in mending, making most of my own clothes at one time, sewing baby boy overalls when our sons were little, making shirts and curtains, pillows, and table linens. I have a picture of me on the morning we left to go to the hospital in downtown San Antonio. That cold January morning, I was wearing a gray knit coat with a paisley lining that I made. I remember that one well, because my bulging belly would not allow the lapels of the coat to meet and button!

Nora brings me everything that needs "fixing" and asks me to sew it up for her. I am glad the Singer and I continue to be stitchworthy. It has proved worth far more than I paid for it. And I was shocked when I saw that on Ebay, it is now worth more than that original $150, which at the time seemed such an extravagance. I think it was a good buy!

I am thankful for my Grandmother and for my Mother, who sewed for me and showed me the value in that creative skill.

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.