Friday, February 22, 2008

Reflecting on my mother's mementos

My mom kept hundreds of letters, post cards, and mementos. However, it wasn't something she did consistently throughout her life.

I've noticed she kept things from 1930-1932, which was her dating/courting period. Obviously that was a significant time for her; she kept diaries during those years, but all that remains are a few pages. Mice, stains, and time have spoiled most of her journaling.

Then there's no correspondence stored away until 1937-1938. I've researched and read the letters from that time, and I think now I understand why she kept everything from those years. It's because there were such life-changing things going on in her life.

First of all, she lost the baby boy she had carried to full term because the umbilical cord was around his neck. You can see she wrote on this picture, "Me pregnant for Lonnie Ray".

Next, she and Daddy were trying to get his son from his first marriage into their custody. My dad's aunt had kept my brother from birth after his mother died birthing him, and had steadfastly refused to give him up. Although my dad had every right to his son, my parents were too poor to hire a lawyer.

But my brother started giving the aunt some trouble as he approached adolescence, and she realized she wasn't going to be able to handle him.

I've read letters from some aunts to my parents, telling them that this was their chance to get the boy. And finally they did. In the above picture you see my parents with my sister and brother, after their family was united.

Also in 1938, my mother's daddy got cancer, suffered horribly, and died. So in that picture where my mom is pregnant, her daddy (in the overalls) did not have long to live. He wasn't that old a man.

All the letters my mother kept from that time mentioned at least one of these events, one way or another. Yesterday I read on a post card my grandma had sent, "It's been nine months since your dad left us."

After that, there are no more cards and letters until 1944. In July of that year I was born. My mother, at age 34, had finally given birth to a live baby. She kept every card of congratulations and even all the Christmas cards from that year. There must have been great rejoicing in that house. She kept the letters the doctor wrote to her, both during her pregnancy and after my birth. In one of these, the doctor tells her to be sure and not spoil the baby. Obviously, she didn't obey orders. But all of that goes into what makes me ME.

Oh, there are a few items Mother kept in later years. But never to the extent that she did in those traumatic times, her saddest and her happiest years.

It's surely been a blessing to me, reading those letters from the past.

Thanks, Mother. I'm sharing these things the best I can.


Diane J. said...

I know when I was younger all my Mama's and Grandma's letters and mementos didn't mean much to me, but the older I get the more I appreciate those things they saved through the years. They just draw us closer as I realize how alike we women are from generation to generation.

I've really enjoyed your pictures and memories from your past, Donna.

Hope you have a good weekend!

Love and hugs,


Muhd Imran said...

This is a wonderful way to keep the memories alive. It is indeed great to have pictures that tell so much about the times and lives of yesteryears.

Have a great weekend.

Midlife Mom said...

What a blessing to have all those cards, letters and pictures from years gone by. I too have been enjoying my walk down memory lane going through my mother's old pictures. The picture of that iron is a hoot! I would think the thing would blow up if it got too hot! Yikes!
Come on by, I'm having a give away and one of the prizes is a great horse book!!

Trish said...

Oh wow - beautiful. I love reading about the lives of others - seeing where they came from, what makes them tick. Your mother was strong. I just love the photos with authentic handwriting on them.

Thanks for sharing.

dangerkitty said...

What a beautiful entry. I love the photographs.