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She died January 6, 2000. I still have not gone through her "stuff" - it’s not like I think she’s coming back, I just can’t bear to go through it all. So, it sits in what was her bedroom, her closet, her dresser and chest of drawers.
She was more than my mother (wasn’t that enough?) - she was my best friend. Growing up, I’d been a daddy’s girl. It wasn’t until after my father died in 1983 that I really got close to my mother. I didn’t realize what a wonderful wife, mother and woman she was until I became a wife and mother. I was never the perfect daughter, but she was very close to being the perfect mother. She was patient, understanding, supportive, she liked everyone and could always find something good in someone. She was the perfect mother-in-law. My husband was actually closer to her than he is to his own mother (not saying that he loved her more, they just shared more through his adult life). They would fish together, build fences and doghouses; they had a very special relationship. My mother would even tell me when I was wrong and he was right, something I could never figure out!
Mama hunted with us until I got old enough that she didn’t think she needed to be with us to take care of both of us, my father and me. She was probably the most inconsistent marksperson that ever fired a weapon. She could hit a dove flying wide open at 40 yards with her model 12 20 gauge one day and then miss a coon at point blank range the next day! She killed a few deer, the biggest one a 10 point muley in New Mexico when I was just a small child. My father had shopped and studied finally deciding on a Winchester model 70, .264 magnum. They headed to the hills of New Mexico, my father proudly with his new rifle, Mama with his old Model 94 .30-.30. Daddy killed a doe with his new gun; Mama got the 10 point. I guess Daddy took a lot of ribbing from his friends, but never from Mama.
On holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mama would spend all day cooking a feast while we were out hunting. Often times, she’d just put everything back on the stove or in the oven to keep it warm while she waited patiently for us to come in - when we’d show up with a deer or two that needed to be skinned, she’d make a pot of coffee, put on a different apron and join in skinning and quartering. After the initial preparation, she’d serve the dinner to us, listening to our stories with sincere interest and pride - excited to hear the same story from either of us over and over.
She loved to fish. She could sit all day with a tiny cork, a pinch of worm and fish. It didn’t make any difference if she caught fingerling perch, catfish, bream, bass or nothing. She’d just sit and fish. She didn’t have the patience to be still or quiet when hunting. I can remember trying to deer hunt with her when she thought I was too little to be out by myself (I probably was) and I’d get so aggravated because she absolutely would not be still and quiet. It truly made me wonder how she’d ever hunted with Daddy.
It was Daddy that brought me up hunting, but Mama encouraged and supported it. Daddy taught me to shoot, gut, and butcher. Mama grew up during the depression, she’d rabbit hunt with her brother to have rabbit for dinner. I think she let Daddy think that he also taught her to shoot, etc., but she’d known how all along.
Mama did go on several hunting trips with us, especially after our son was born. She’d stay at the camper and take care of him so I could hunt. It wasn’t until then that I realized that Mama never did love to hunt, she just loved Daddy and me and knew how much hunting meant to us. She wanted to be part of whatever was important to us.
Her name was Charlie. That was not short for Charlotte or Charline, just Charlie - Charlie Mae. We named our first English Setter Charlie after her. Everyone else always called her Charlie Mae, but Daddy called her Charlie. To her nieces and nephews, she was Aunt Mae.
Her favorite title was "Grandma". She was a fool over our son. He has some wonderful memories of her as he would spend summers with her before she moved in with us in 1999. They’d go fish all day long and do exactly what he wanted to do!
It’s funny how you try to find traits that you carry on after your parents are gone. I find that more of my father’s traits have been passed on to me than those of my mother. She used to tell me that I should have been more like her and less like him. She was right. I miss her.
© May 2008
Alaska and the Yukon
North Alabama, Mississippi p
and North Georgia
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