This is a tribute to my mother who was born at midnight May 6 or May 7 of 1918. Both days are shown on her birth certificate because at the time there was apparently a type of 'daylight saving' time in existence that all residents of Missouri did not recognize. The non- daylight saving time would have shown 11 pm on the 6th but her birthday was always celebrated as May 7, 1918, although she never failed to mention it should be the 6th.
Her entire life was composed of such decisions setting them on the scale of yes/no, do/don't, go/stay, with a thread of understanding for the decision not chosen. She saw everyone's viewpoint but the one definite measuring stick for her life was her relationship with her God. Even the night that she received the proposal of marriage from my father who, having been denied the usage of the horse and buggy because of icy roads, had walked the distance into town from his grandparent's farm where he resided during his school years and was at that time visiting with the proposal his main reason for being back in Missouri from Texas. With his romantic sense of timing, no other day was appropriate than Valentine's Day for his request. Thus he had arrived later than planned, thoroughly soaked, completely chilled, but ardently persistent, and after receiving his "yes" was sent by my grandparents to bed down in the spare room for the night. His timing had been perfect because Grandfather Joslin was a mountain of a man who struck terror into the hearts of any of Mother's would-be beaus, but he was currently nursing a broken ankle, which my father-to-be confidently figured he could out-run if necessary.
But on that night, Mother penned the following:
Love is God's Gift
Love - love - what can it be
A sturdy bridge twix thee and me?
Or just a shady stair
Trembling in every breath of air?
Or could it be that God so great
Has sent His love to those who meet
And vow to always be the other's friend
And try to all his sorrows mend?
For God is there in every union
That's rooted in devout communion.
With vows to be true, each to the other
And God's help to be a good father and mother
For in God we Trust -
For love that time cannot rust!
A Marriage is made in Heaven they say,
Must yet be lived on this earth each day!
But with help from God up above,
And our hearts joined in true love,
Perhaps this life we both can live,
And keep that center of love alive
Thru all our daily pressures.
Thank you, God - Our thanks go to You!
And may we always be true to You.
Their marriage endured 62 years from their wedding date of June 10, 1934, until Daddy Jack passed away on July 1, 1996. They shared their lives, their goals, their love for their families, and their work as well. Granted, Moma May had come to this marriage already somewhat spoiled because during those hard years before she was born, three little brothers had been lost in an epidemic that swept through most of Missouri reaping a harvest of babies, infants and youngsters. The cemeteries blossomed with new markers and bouquets of flowers brought by mourners. Therefore, when Mother came along, my grandparents were so frightened that something would happen to her, they hovered over her, trying to smother any individual effort on her part that might lead to dangers only a parent would imagine. Such behavior on their part not only spoiled her but led her to outrageous testing of their fidelity.
One Sunday morning after she had been dressed in the layers of clothing proper for young ladies of barely three, all pristinely white and hand stitched and embroidered, she proceeded to crawl into the pot-belly of the large living room furnace which had been removed from that position with the warm weather and placed at the corner of the kitchen garden so the ashes could be washed out to enrich the soil. Needless to say, the carbon and ashes adhered faithfully to Mother and to her garb. Grandmother patiently cleaned her up, hurried to re-dress her and once more continued to her barbering of Grandfather so they could also get dressed for Church. Not once more but twice more, Mother explored the stove, and the third time Grandmother spatted Mother's sooty little behind, then dropped to her knees, crying and praying in fear that God would take Mother away since she had actually struck her. She and grandfather both prayed fearfully all day, blaming themselves as bad parents for placing the temptation of the stove in her way. No wonder she grew up so spoiled.
But Daddy Jack, an only child, raised by his mother, grandmother and occasionally his two aunts, grew up believing all women were precious people and deserved to exist upon pedestals being worshipped by such as he. MomaMay didn't mind the worship, but she did mind being tied to a pedestal and soon taught him that she, who had grown into quite a tomboy, could outrun, outswim, out shoot, and out talk him and most other people except perhaps her formidable mother-in-law, his own mother Nora Viola Alexander Carroll Fisher King. At least she convinced him she could be with him in any activity - side by side.
When the war broke out, mother's brother Jackie Oakley Joslin, just out of High School, was living with them and working with Daddy Jack. They went to Vancouver, Washington, to work in the Kaiser Ship Yards, and found a place to stay at a race track Bagley Downs which had been creatively altered into rows and rows of duplex housing around the central recreation center and management building. Mother bundled us girls into the 1937 Chevrolet packed so full that we were lying on top of blankets with our pillows and coloring books almost level with the top of the front seat back. A neighbor, Henry Smith, who had "been to Oregon" and had kinfolk there, was to share the driving and go along as a guard for Mother and us girls.
Before we got to the New Mexico line, Mr. Smith complained that his eyesight was failing badly, but "he knew every step of the way" so we all continued with mother driving and him 'navigating.'
Once there, Mother got us girls settled and cared for, mostly by either her, DaddyJack, or Uncle Jackie as they worked different shifts, for she too, had hired on like Rosie the boiler maker. Mother, who had learned to weld because she considered it a neat thing to know, also had learned how to handle wiring and other electronics so she signed up for their electrician school while also working, and was soon certified as Journeyman Electrician. Daddy Jack was in the Pipe Fitters Union, and was working at inspecting welds in the testing area. Jackie was also in that union and he was on board ship making connections where needed. I was in school but the two younger girls weren't and we all three stayed at the Rec Center where they did child care. They were there all day until one of the family was home to pick them up, and I was there for half of the day because the schools were doing two shifts daily to try to get all the influx of students schooled without building new schools. I went to school on the bus at noon and was bussed home around 7 pm because it was nearly an hour of travel going and coming.
With mother's skill at blueprints she soon became the foreman of her crew picked with a total absence of bigotry from several ethnic backgrounds, all who exhibited the exacting abilities needed to put the wiring between bulkheads in the new 'baby' flattops being produced. The term referred to the smaller, quicker aircraft carriers recently designed.
After the war mother never slowed down, but poured a lot of her energy into various hobbies, local organizations, and rearing four daughters. When Daddy became an iceman, Mother worked there too, doing the secretarial duties. She was a fine seamstress, and a creative homemaker. Over the years she let her artistic nature turn to painting and even a nominal amount of sculpture. She was a rockhound and president of the local group, so she and Daddy became lapidarists, accumulating and designing, and building various equipment to enhance their hobby.
When it was deemed time to enlarge the house, Mother did the blueprints, and was the electrician while Daddy was the building contractor, with only the concrete slab being sub-contracted at that time. Mother even laid the brick for the flowerbeds, and she and Daddy did the chimney. He did all the cabinetry in the house, and Mother did the finishing.
She seemed to be always ready to travel at the drop of a hat; but in fact was always jotting down lists of what was needed, detailed packing ideas, and maps to where she'd like to go. She and Daddy traveled extensively driving and camping, and after he passed away in 1996, she and Jacquelyn, and I went to Canada. Later in 2000, the three of us persuaded Jacqui's daughter and my daughter to accompany us. Some of the pics shown are from that trip.
Because of her abiding Faith in her God, she was a quiet example of belief to her family, though she was a joyful person and loved family gatherings. When she passed away March 3, 2010, one of her great-grandsons and his wife wrote a poem in her memory. As she was a poet herself, she would have been very pleased to see another member of the family with such talent. Adam and Prisca have allowed me to publish it as a part of this tribute.
Great Grandmother O' so Great
We surely miss you as of late
Though we shed a mournful tear
The things you've shared remain so dear
You taught us how not to run
But how to make life more fun
You opened our hearts to the guiding light
That guides us through the stormy night.
You said you know just who saves us
So enjoy the gifts that God gave us
And be understanding of our fear
But rejoice knowing I'm up here.
Now you are with our father up above
Thus we can still feel your love.
Your legacy of truth still echoes under our roof
What is real will last forever and that is our proof
No matter how hard times may get
Your memory we will not forget
And so we express in a loving way
We hope to see you again one day.
You have shown a way to Paradise
And that is why Great Grandmother in the sky
We surely miss you as of late
Because your love is so Great
For Heaven's sake.
Mother's services were held March 13 at Bluebonnet Hills Funeral Home, and she was laid to rest next to Daddy in the Bluebonnet Hills Memorial Park, Colleyville, Texas.
Below you will find thumbnail pics throughout Mother's life, and you can see a larger pic by clicking the description in blue. The four generation pic of the elderly Grandmother Bullard, Grandmother Joslin, Mother, and the baby Mary Elizabeth was timed fortuitously as Grandmother Bullard died not many months later. The picture of Mother wading in the Pecos River is historic as it shows what a mighty river it was in 1934 when she and Daddy returned to live in Texas after their marriage.
Click on the author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.