Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Momma as I Knew Her

Carolyn Jo Shaver – Moore, born to Iva Jo & Eugene Henry (nice southern style names) on December 2nd, 1947. She was the youngest of 4 children. She married Daddy on July 8th, 1967. The Vietnam War was in full force. It was a very scary time for young men of age, because of the draft. So many men had already lost their lives and the possibility of Daddy being drafted was very real.

Young men could be drafted between the ages of 18 and 35. In 1967, men were classified and prioritized with statuses. These statuses included whether or not the man was married, had children, was already in the military or was in school, just to name a few. Young single men that were not in school were first picked. A married man, with a child was further down the line to be drafted. Thus the reason I was conceived immediately following their marriage and born on July 26th, 1968. Daddy enlisted in the Navy Reserves, as well. Thankfully, he never was drafted. My brother, Lee came just 18 months later and Robert joined us when I was 6.

Momma worked off and on through the years, but she was primarily a stay-at-home-mom. Her house was always neat and orderly. She managed to cook amazing meals on the tiniest of budgets. One of our favorites was fried Spam with ketchup and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes we ate fried bologna instead of Spam, which was just as good. Another frequent meal was pinto beans and hamburger meat. When it was affordable, of course we at McDonald’s and Sonic or Church’s fried chicken. Nothing really compared to Momma’s cookin’.

Besides all of the great cooking on a shoe-string budget, Momma was very creative. She was good at just about everything she ever tried. Her ability to draw was amazing. Caricatures seemed to be her favorite but she was also very good at portraits.

To Momma, writing came very easily and she had a great imagination. Her stories and poems were vivid, colorful and captivating. She once shared with me some of the papers she wrote in High School. I was truly amazed that my mother had actually written them. The comments from her teachers were highly complimentary. I often wondered why she didn’t do something more with her talent. As I look back now, I can understand that being a mother and a wife were her priorities and she never faltered.

Momma was also very quick witted. I can remember so often, her friends telling me, “your momma is so funny.” It was a something to behold when she came up with the funniest reply to the simplest questions. And hold on to your britches if you ever messed up and said something you didn’t intend to say! There was no way she would over look it. Her humor was clean and it was endearing.

I can remember one of my daddy’s birthdays. I am pretty sure he was turning thirty years old. His age is a little foggy, but I do remember the cake! Momma was so proud of the cake! She used metal bowls, two of the same size, to cook the cake batter in. This was so weird to me because I had only ever seen a cake baked in a cake pan. The bowls were bigger than a cereal bowl but smaller than a mixing bowl. When the cake was done, she carefully dumped them upside down onto a foil line cutting board. The flat part of the cake was on the bottom and the round part formed mounds on the top. They were placed side by side with approximately 2 inches separation. She then proceeded to frost them as if they were some how connected. She used food coloring to concoct a frosting that was a pinky-flesh like color. Next, on the top of each cake mound and in the very center, she carefully, oh so carefully, placed a single maraschino cherry.

When the cake was completely done, imagine my Daddy’s surprise when he saw a BOOB Cake! That’s right, Momma, figured out a way to make a boob cake. This was something that was seemingly inappropriate behavior for a young woman of this era. It was a time well in advance of Googling ideas of others for those milestone birthdays. This was an idea that was all her own. Carefully, thought out, skillfully planned and expertly executed. Even as a 10 year old, I got “it”.

Of the most significant memories I have of my mother is her ability to sing. She had the most beautiful voice. She loved old country songs. Among her favorite artists were, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Donna Fargo, Charlie Pride, Elvis and Conway Twitty. To hear her sing was always so soothing. I knew she was happy when she was singing. My brothers and I often recall her voice sounding just like Patsy Cline.

It was very important to Momma that my brothers and I learn all of the words and sing along with her. One song I remember learning all of the words to The “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” by Donna Fargo. I have found so much contentment in that song for so many years. I have sung it to each of my children when they were babies and needed to be comforted. Isn’t it funny how a song can take you back in time? When I am taken back by that song, I am always an innocent little girl with no worries, no fears, no expectations and full of unconditional love. The only thing on my agenda is to bury some old toy in the backyard and draw map for my brother to use to locate my small treasure. We never did find those toys!

1 comment:

  1. Carrie:

    I really feel as though I know your Mom...you are writing the story beautiful.

    You Mom and I had the same anniversary....