Follow by Email

Showing posts with label Opal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Opal. Show all posts

Friday, February 17, 2017

Opal's Button Box

Nora's middle name is Opal.  Named for her great grandmother, my mother, Opal Terrell Teal, she does not yet realize all the ways she connects with her great-grandmother every day.  Since we share a home, she is with me often and does not yet know when she calls me - "Granmary" or climbs in my lap, she is connecting not only by relationship but in ways that I grandparent.  My own grandmother modeled grandparenting for me, but Opal did so by being a wonderful Nana to our boys. Then there are countless ways that come into everyday life - the results of my upbringing in a home with parents who valued faith and family.  Last week, Nora discovered the magic and mystery of Opal's Button Box.  The buttons in a discarded kitchen cannister are leftovers from not only her many years of sewing but also her mother's, my grandmother. They never threw buttons away but saved them carefully for reuse and repurposing. If a shirt could no longer be mended, they cut off the buttons and saved them,  using the fabric scraps in another way. There are baby buttons, the one or two buttons from a card of buttons purchased to march down the front of dresses and blouses and coats, shirt buttons, glass buttons, plastic buttons, wooden buttons, and metal buttons. Nora is only beginning to discover the thrill of handling them, and ways she can use them. So in this photo, she finds the fun in making print and pattern in play dough - all with Opal's buttons. Since then, she has carried them around in one of her own boxes and speaks with pride of her own buttons.  She says buT Tons, and I love it.  Today, she told me she needs more buttons.  She is acting true to her heritage.  Mother would be proud.

Thursday, October 20, 2016


Today my sweet Mother, Opal Terrell Teal would be 103 years old.  She died 10 years ago, a month short of her 93rd birthday.  I miss her still, and while thinking of her I think of so many things about her that I miss, things that remind me of her.

she played the first piano notes I ever heard,
loved all the old Baptist hymns plus
Rustic Dance and I Love You a Bushel and a Peck
took me to piano lessons and made sure I practiced
when I played my piano today, it was a tribute to her

she found the prettiest cloth to make my dresses
smoothing fabric on her bed, laying the tissue patterns, cutting with care
sitting for hours at her Singer 
in front of the window where Hawthorne bloomed
pinning and fitting before hand-stitching hems
and teaching me that, too  

 she brought me yellow roses when I was a young mother of  3 sons
Tyler roses, tight yellow buds in a bunch
in her last years there were petals of yellow sticky notes
to remind me she loved me

I miss her laughter,
the magazine and newspaper clippings she used to send in letters
she had the most beautiful handwriting
I miss the way she loved coffee
the way she smelled of face powder and Tide
I miss sitting by her,  
her wrinkled hands clapping with joy or clasped in prayer
clinging by faith until it was by sight





Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Steel Magnolia

October 20 will always be Mother's birthday on my calendar even though it has been 9 years now since she left us. I took this photo two years ago when we visited hers and Daddy's graves, along with the many others of our family who were laid to rest here in the Bullard, Texas cemetery.  The giant magnolia tree reminds me of Mother, who was indeed a steel magnolia, a true lady, a eautiful, strong, courageous woman with deep roots who deserved the name long before anyone thought of making a movie!  She would have laughed at my calling her that.  That is one of the things I miss the most - laughing with her. Remembering!   Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal October 20, 1913 - September 21, 2006.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Opal and Gertrude

This photograph taken circa 1930 is an image of a friendship that lasted over 80 years! On the right is my mother, Opal Auntionette Terrell, who married my father,  John William Howard Teal, on December 27, 1931. On the left is Gertrude Mae Burks, who married Herod Bickerstaff on December 4, 1931. These two young women "stood up" for each other at their weddings that December in 1931. But they had been standing up for each other for years before that.  They went to church and school together, both graduating from Bullard High School in 1931. They shared  living in big families on farms with no indoor plumbing, drinking water from a dipper stuck in the well bucket,  learning to cook on wood stoves, learning to iron with flat irons heated on those stoves, writing in their diaries, the giggling of girls, and the satisfaction of working hard,. In those days, school text books were hard to come by. They shared those books, which were called "partner books"  I have one of those books with their names and that designation handwritten inside the book.

Through the years Opal and Gertrude remained close friends. They grew up on farms whose acreage backed up to each other.  There was a small creek with a bridge in between. Mother spoke fondly of the times they would plan to meet at that bridge. I am sure Gertrude was at a party Mother went to when she was a teenager. She told how she had such a good time she was late coming home and as she tip toed down the long front hall of their big white house on the hill in Bullard, she kicked a washpan that had been set outside a bedroom door and woke everyone.  Gertrude shined her patent shoes like Mother did, by rubbing a cold biscuit over the toes!


Best friends for so long, and married in the same month, their married lives began as Gertrude and Herod worked a farm in the sandy soil of East Texas, raising watermelons among other crops.  They had 2 sons and  2 daughters. Opal and Howard moved to Tyler where they both worked in Cameron's Cafeteria and where they lived when I was born in 1940, later moving to New Orleans, LA during WW II  Daddy worked in shipyards. When they came back to Texas, both worked in cafes in Jacksonville and later operated and owned cafes where Daddy was well known for being a wonderful cook.  My sister Janice was born in 1946.  When I left home to start college in 1958, Gertrude and Herod's oldest daughter Nona was my first college roommate!

Both were strong women whose faith was apparent in the way they lived life in their communities, raised their families,and served in their churches. Gertrude was an active member of First Baptist Church Bullard.Opal was a longtime member of First Baptist Church Jacksonville. Both were married for over 50 years.  Howard Teal died in 1982. Herod Bickerstaff died in 1987.  So both women were widows for many years.

 Gertrude was born August 30, 1913 lived in Bullard all her life and died in Jacksonville (less than 15 miles away) on April 15, 2002 after a couageous battle with cancer.  Opal was born October 20, 1913, lived all but 2 years of her life within a 15 mile radius of her childhood home, and  finally left her home in Jacksonville when we moved her near us the same year Gertrude died, 2002.  Often in those last few years, she would tell me she was ready to "go Home."  On that night,  September 21, 2006, as I grieved her loss, I smiled through tears and said,

"She is meeting Gertrude at the bridge."

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Love Note from Mother

My mother, Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal, mothered me long into my own adventures with motherhood. She was not a hover mother or helicopter parent (today's terminology) but she was a a careful parent. "Be careful on your way home."  "Wrap up, it's cold and wet outside!"  "You need to eat right to keep up your strength."
"Don't try to do so much. Slow down."  - only a few examples.  As she advanced in years, eventually wearing a diagnosis she didn't even understand (Alzheimers), she often repeated herself.  Her short term memory was gone, but she never forgot something she had always said often: "I love you."  By the time she died 8 years ago, she had resorted to leaving yellow sticky notes all over her room where she wrote that.

Since she could no longer plant things for herself, various of our family members brought her a pot with a blooming amaryllis from time to time. She enjoyed the blooms, but when they faded she would hand me the pot and tell me to plant it in my yard.  Each year now since she left us, the amaryllis plants that I stuck here and there push their green spears out, shoot up long stems and flower.  Do you see the yellow sticky note?