At four feet eleven inches, my Mother was a GIANT to me and to everyone who knew her. She taught me how to sing, TRIED to teach me to play the guitar, and taught me how to live, even though I had a mind of my own. She taught me how to pray. She taught me how to treat others…..to turn the other cheek….to be nice, but there was another teacher, my Father who taught me how to be strong and how to fight. Therefore, I became somewhat of a gentle beast…..somewhere between Jesus and John Wayne. And I don’t regret what I am, even though I could have made some wiser choices in my life.
When Daddy became ill, I would drive 189 miles every week to visit him, and Mother knew the reason for my weekly visits……..it was my time with my Daddy. She knew his time was limited and didn’t mind he and and I spending time in his bedroom, talking, laughing, and reminiscing. Sometimes, near the end, she could hear us yelling at each other in anger, and afterward she would admonish me to be more gentle with him since his mind had already departed to that Mansion Just Over The Hilltop. He knew I loved him and I knew he loved me.
After his passing, my weekly trips did not stop, because Mother had problems of her own and I knew the time would come when we would not be able to speak again. We had so much fun talking and sometimes arguing about things in general. One day we were talking about the problems farmers in Texas were having with the wild boar problem and she told me the story from her childhood about the “hog killings”…….how families in her day would raise a hog and how, at some point, they would notify all the surrounding families that Pappaw and Mammaw (that’s what we called them) would be slaughtering their hog on Friday. One hog was too much for one family to eat, so the other families would come and gather what Pappaw had decided he would share with the others. In turn, when the other families were ready to slaughter THIER hog, Mammaw and Pappaw would load all the children up and they would go to that farm and be able to share THAT bounty. It was a sharing thing that was evidently a regular occurrence in the rural areas of Central Texas and beyond.
After hearing that one story, an idea came to me to get some of these stories written down for future generations, and since I’m a bit lazy and didn’t want to write it all down, I suggested I interview my Mother about her life like I was a reporter, doing a story.. She seemed to like the idea, so I bought this little cheap cassette player for the project. I originally bought a digital recorder, but sometimes I get a little intimidated with technology, and I was afraid things would get all messed up, so the cassette player it was! She was also not intimidated with the antiquated contraption. As a matter of fact, I left all the tapes with her when we were finish and unbeknownst to me, there was a blank side to the last tape and she filled it with some of her favorite songs……the last song being a melody about “going Home”.
I didn’t make notes about what to talk about…..I just started out with her earliest memory and we just had about an 8 hour conversation over a period of maybe two months. One question would lead to another and another, and still another, and if you’ve ever heard my mother tell a story, you know that there are detours and insertions that only my Mother can navigate. Sometime we just got lost. Here and there we would stop the tape, I would ask her if she was tired and then we would dive right back into our little world we had created. She really seemed to enjoy it. My Mother was an humble person and did not like talking about herself, but when I assured her that this was for all her grandchildren………she was in it to win it! We did not edit the tapes. Sometimes we would make a mistake and simply say, “oh, that’s wrong….let’s try that again!”
Only one of her siblings will not be able to hear the interview. That would be Curtis (we called him “BUCK”) Hayes, may he rest in peace with the Lord. Mother’s sisters will hear this recollection and they may recall things a little differently than Mother, but you know, we all remember things a little differently.
Regardless, I hope you enjoy these stories from my Mother to you.