INK IN THE BLOOD
Mothers have been universally revered within my knowledge and recollection of trends and events in my lifetime. I think that probably holds true worldwide, but is most certainly a prevalent belief with Americans.
It is a particularly emotional and moving observance each year for me personally. I was the first-born child of Ruth Evelyn Thornton Webb and Lawrence Ray Webb on Mother’s Day 1937.
The birth occurred at my parents’ rural home in Freestone County at “about 2 p.m.” on that eventful Sunday in the waning Depression years.
Lest I get too emotional and self-indulgent in any recollection, I always remember my dad’s rejoinder about the time of my arrival: “You just missed lunch and you’ve been hungry ever since.”
We lost Mother on April 29 last year, a little more than three months short of her 96th birthday, 10 days before the 75th anniversary of gaining a role that she perhaps revered above all other earthly titles, and 15 scant days before her Diamond Jubilee Mother’s Day. Coming when it did, her death and subsequent events in the days immediately following, there was little time for any deep reflection. That is thankfully available for days, months and years to follow, allowing for the savoring of those particularly poignant individual moments.
She raised four sons and all have become—with certain reservations about writers — solid, contributing citizens. But, this is about mothers, so no tangents allowed.
Mother’s knowledge and understanding of her sons and their own particular sensibilities, transcends mere mortals’ grasp of life’s intricacies. But, any pronouncement from her was usually f lavored with that farm girl practicality that defined her particularly acute observations of her family’s individual needs.
Not long after my father’s passing at a much-too-young 57, Mother was awarding his personal items to the four sons, based on her own very intimate knowledge of each.
Realizing that precious metals caused a severe rash on my wrists and that I couldn’t wear a gold or silver watch band or bracelet, she picked up Dad’s unique and treasured pocket watch and, as she handed it to me, announced: “Willis, you get your daddy’s watch because you can’t wear a wrist watch.”
Though I know she realized the sentimentality for me with regard to that watch, she chose her pronouncement wording based on my particular physical needs.
Perhaps she even realized certain conditions of the watch would go unattended because of the memories they bore.
The watch has a china face that has a small chipped spot where a tiny piece is missing, the result of my rancher-cowboy father tussling with an ornery cow in a muddy corral.
The watch fell from his pocket into the mud and was apparently grazed by the cow’s hoof, breaking the crystal and chipping the china dial face “at 1 o’clock.” (Just missed lunch again.)
Children always loomed large on Mother’s list of prioritized treatment. She had a way of spoiling a child to his own individualities without, as she might term it, “making him rotten.”
My recollections of her and some attention to personal attributes of children include shirts for my next oldest brother, Kerry, and me. I have brown eyes and Kerry blue, so Mother made shirts with fabrics whose color schemes brought focus to our eyes and general complexions.
She had a sense of color that, as a newspaperman/printer would term it, would “work great on Page One.” Her particular idea of “must” qualities in a mother was right on target.
When I took Julie to meet Mother, in the midst of the visit, Julie was playing with her younger son (soon to be mine through the wonderful, legal move of adoption) Weston, Mom leaned over to me and paid my wife the ultimate tribute: “She’s a great mother.”
It was particularly telling of Mother since, as I’ve said, “Mother” was the ultimate title and honor with her.
And, she was right. firstname.lastname@example.org