More than eleven years after dad died, it seemed imperative to ask questions of mom that I'd never before asked. She's wise, compassionate, fun, and creative. I believe her answers may teach us to be good listeners and encourage countless others.
While there's still time, I wanted to remember and respect seemingly insignificant things that reveal her heart, a market place of treasures. "Mom, what's it like to be you?"
Q. What is your favorite color?
A. My favorite colors as a child were yellow and light blue but now I prefer navy blue, red, and black.
Q. What is your favorite time of the day?
Q. What is your favorite book?
A. Gone With the Wind. When we were first married, I read it. We went to see the movie. Even though it's been more than 70 years ago, I still remember that it was the only movie your dad ever went to see.
Q. What is your favorite food?
A. Hot chicken salad with almonds. It's delicious!
Q. What is your favorite memory from school?
A. Well, that's a two-part answer:
1. Sports: playing basketball and baseball. In my first year of high school until I graduated, I was a member of the first string and played every game as a basketball forward, one of three. Our uniform was a white shirt and dark blue shorts. I played in tip-offs. Our games in the 1930's were half-court, not like today's games.
2. Performing in school plays. In my junior year, I portrayed a mother in a play, although I don't remember the title. The audience saw me sewing a white garment by hand. The husband walked toward me and asked a question. "What are you doing?" When I held up the white garment, the audience saw me holding a large pair of ladies bloomers with elastic around the legs and waist. They roared with laughter.
Q. When did you learn to ride a bicycle?
A. 10 years old. My brother would stand on the step and shove my bicycle. My first successful destination was riding to the local post office.
Q. Where did you first attend church?
A. At a Christian church close to our house. It's still easy to remember the first scripture verse I memorized, Psalm 23. I walked to church as a young child before I ever began school. The path was straight between home and church; I didn't even have to cross the road. My first Sunday school teacher's name was Ms. Jewel Hatch and our class met in the church basement.
Q. Where did you first attend school?
A. My first grade class was in a one-room schoolhouse. When it was cold weather, I'd warm my hands at a stove inside a service station on my walk to school.
Q. Did you have any pets while you grew up?
A. One of my brothers brought a dog home with him one afternoon. The dog was black as a charcoal briquette. I kept a photograph of that dog. The photograph was taken with a box camera. Mom stood beside the dog that we named Little-Bitty.
Q. What is the most unusual event you remember from childhood?
A. Mom tinted my hair in the summer early on a Sunday morning when I was rather young. I wore a short-sleeved dress made out of light fabric. My hair was white as cotton and it always tangled. For some reason, mom apparently thought changing the hair color from white to black would make my hair easier to brush. She just didn't like white hair. "I'm going to change it." And that's what she did. When the black dye grew out of my hair, it was never again as white as cotton.
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