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Showing posts with label mothers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mothers. Show all posts

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Mother's Day Gift

As so many will this weekend, I am thinking of the gift of my mother, and her mother before her. I think of what a gift being a mother has been for me. And I am so proud and grateful for the young mothers who are part of my life right now because they loved and married my sons and became the mothers of my grandchildren.  I could paper this page with pictures of these mothers. Instead, I have a picture of this white iris which once bloomed in my grandmother's yard. It would be an entirely imaginary story, but it could be that it was cultivated in her yard by her own mother, who lived with her until her death in 1940, the year of my birth.  Because that great grandmother was born in France, and would have known her French heritage, it could be that she loved the iris flower, the French royal standard fleur-de-lis.

Iris grow not from bulbs, but from rhizomes which must be thinned out by dividing every few years.  So at her Bullard, TX farm,  Grandma Terrell would have divided her white iris, given some to my mother, who did the same by giving some to my sister before she moved from her home in Jacksonville.  Last year, my sister moved and divided iris in Round Rock, TX  to share with me before she moved.  Last week,  Joe "dug" Grandma's White Iris so that we can take some to our new home.  My lovely daughters-in-law will receive presents from husbands and daughters - probably flowers and pretty trinkets and breakfast in bed.  But they will also be given a small ZipLoc bag  filled with  brown twisted roots and shoots, a gift of story and perseverance.  Happy Mother's Day!



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Mother's Kitchen Stool

I have several pieces of antique furniture that once belonged to my mother and her mother before:  an oak china cabinet of Civil War vintage, a wash stand, a library table, a rocking chair that I myself was rocked in when I was a baby, my dining table, Grandma Terrell's bureau.   I have written about the dining table, and will probably write about some of these other things at another time, but this kitchen stool with its worn edges and chipped paint, has been "talking" to me lately.  It belonged to my mother for as long as I remember, and she painted it this pale green when she repainted her kitchen cabinets in the house on Sunset Ave. where I grew up.  It went with her to the little brick house on Tena Street she and Daddy bought in the 1970's, and when she sold that house over 20 years later, the stool went to her tiny apartment in Jacksonville.  There, where the kitchen was not big enough for a stool, it sat in the corner with a circle of lace over it and held the Bible that had once belonged to my father.  In 2002, Mother's dwindling possessions and the stool moved from East Texas to Sugar Land,  to another small apartment where the lace cloth and Bible were unpacked and put back into place.  

In mid July of 2006, Mother began receiving hospice care so I began the sad task of clearing the rooms where she had spent her last years. The kitchen stool came home to another kitchen, mine. I once thought of repainting it with cheerful colors and patterns, but somehow that didn't seem right. I had grown to love every chip and scratch, and in these last 8 years it has taken on a new dignity and task. Now, this stool is where my granddaughters perch to help me cook. When they stir and taste and laugh, I feel my mother's joy blending with mine.

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?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Opal and Howard

My parents, Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal and John William Howard Teal, photographed on  July 2, 1943
They were married on December 27, 1931. This photograph was taken at the wedding of H.P. and Catherine Terrell.  H. P. was Opal's youngest brother.

November is a month when many focus on gratitude.  For several years, I have kept a daily gratitude journal to use as part of my morning meditation time.  I write down 5 things for which I am thankful.  Some are very small things - a bird at my kitchen window, the way morning light casts a lacy shadow on the wall, a phone call.  I say thank you, too,  for the biggest things in my every day:  God's faithfulness and love, for the way he is working in my family's life.  I give thanks for food and shelter and good hugs from Joe and our sons.  I am grateful for my daughters- in- law, and my granddaughters' laughter.

 I was born on November 14, 1940, so today is my birthday. I am grateful for my parents' life and love which began my life.  Thank you, God, for Opal and Howard Teal.  Thank you, Mother and Daddy, for loving each other and for loving me.  I never doubted for a moment that I was cherished.  Your faith and love and your hard work to provide good things for me continue to sustain me. You live on in me, in your grandsons, and in your great grandchildren.   You are part of everything I ever write down on my gratitude list.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

All the Easter Dresses

One of the many things I love about this time leading up to Easter is the re-emergence of color as seeds sprout and flowers return to bloom.  When I was growing up in East Texas, the dark wintertime evergreen woods began to dot with dogwood and redbud trees. Daffodils and narcissus and azaleas drifted across front yards. And little girls and their mothers planned Easter dresses!  I am not sure the above photo was the Easter dress the year I was three, but it might have been.  And it would most certainly have been made by my mother on her Singer sewing machine although I suspect the crocheted lace on that collar would have been crocheted by my grandmother.

Stitches in Time

at Christmastime I hang a wreath, braided circle of  cloth
 made almost half a century ago from scraps found in my fabric stash
one strand of the braid is green velvet
bits left from creating a dress
with beaded cummerbund that circled my then tiny waist
a second strand cut from scraps of snow white brocaded cotton
my high school graduation dress
woven  with the green and white is red corduroy,
my first maternity dress
there would have been nothing left to make the wreath if not for first
the sewing
and the clothes.

I remember sundresses, circle skirts with petticoats, pleated skirts,
tucked blouses, mandarin jackets, peter pan collars,
puffed sleeves, vests, and weskits
a squaw dress and a poodle skirt
all made after I helped pick a pattern
Simplicity, McCall's, Vogue
you even collected last year's pattern books
from fabric shops where we bought
yards of gingham, calico, organdy, dotted swiss,
eyelet, dimity, poplin, corduroy, worsted and flannel

I remember plaids, checks, polka dots and stripes
pin-wale, herringbone, and tweed
one of a kind made just for me
a red checked dress for a play
always a new dress for first day of school
pink eyelet with ruffles for my piano recital
black suit with red velvet bow for my ride
 in the parade as a duchess
school dresses and play clothes
Sunday clothes, Easter outfits, nightgowns

I remember prom dresses -
clouds of billowing scarlet chiffon,
net the color of hyacinths, shiny satin
pale pink organza, and creamy peau de soie
bolts of rustling taffeta and black velvet
sacks of heavy ribbon and lace
measured with a yardstick on a cutting table
in a shop that was more fun than a candy store
by then I could sketch my dress and it happened!

I remember hours you spent preparing cloth, spreading it
with tissue patterns, cutting with pinking shears
the love that bent you over the humming Singer
with its one tiny bright light
when you said “let's try this on” and tucked
at my waist or lengthened a hem
I don't remember smiling and saying “thank you”
I hope that I did
 I did learn to sew

 I remember when I designed and made my wedding dress
you were proud to help me sew on pearls
I remember writing letters to tell you how my 3 little boys
played when I tried to sew
one standing behind me with his arms
around my neck

And when my granddaughter wanted a princess gown
we picked out a pattern and she helped me cut and sew
I remembered how you made me feel like a princess.
Sad only because you could no longer remember any of it.

Mary Ann Teal Parker  March 23, 2013
Written for my mother, Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal
who suffered from Alzheimer's the last years of her life,
 and died in 2006, one month short of her 93rd birthday

Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Here!!

Each year, one of my favorite harbingers of Spring is the sudden appearance of Redbud blooms on the gray scraggly branches of what has been an almost unnoticed small tree in someone's backyard or the woods along the road.  In the Piney Woods of East Texas where my husband and I spent our growing up years, the first blooms seemed to signal to dozens of other early blooming trees that it was Spring again. The woods lining the highway between Jacksonville, Texas and my grandparent's smaller town of Bullard seemed to come alive in a patchwork of wild plum, dogwood, and various shades of purple from the Redbud trees. We see fewer here south of Houston, but the fact that they bloom even earlier in the slightly balmier climate makes them stand out even more.  The first blooms bring my biggest smile.  I like being reminded of the joy they brought me as a child.  And they bring fond memories of my mother and daddy and grandparents who first taught me to watch for them.

The Redbuds are blooming.  Easter is on the way.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


This trio of scissors is not a matched set. They are all pinking shears, those zig zag edging tools which at one time were in the sewing basket of every serious seamstress because using them helped keep the edges of seams from raveling and fraying.  The pair on the left belonged to my Mother, those on the right were my grandmother's.  My own pinking shears are the ones in the middle.  Now they all belong to me, and I haven't used any of them in years.  But recently, I took them to be sharpened.  I was not surprised when the scissor man told me Grandma Terrell's pinking shears could no longer be sharpened enough to make a difference in the way they cut.  He was able to sharpen the other scissors, however, so they will be ready if and when I decide to choose fabric and pattern, lay out the tissue pieces, and cut the garment sections before stitching seams.

It is strange to think that an art I once practiced regularly has become only occasional for me.  In fact, the only times I plug in my electric sewing machine are when I want to mend or alter something, or stitch up a doll's dress for my granddaughters.  I only know of  one or two women who still make their own clothes.
Because fabric and sewing accessories are expensive, off the rack clothing is often less expensive and less time consuming.  But I miss honing that skill.  My 10 year old granddaughter has asked me to teach her to sew. I think I had better practice before I do.  The pinking shears are sharpened and ready!