Remembering Mother


by John C. Westervelt


        As a boy, I remember turning the clothes wringer handle to help Mother and Daddy with the laundry. I remember Mother, for good reasons, always sitting between my brother Wallace and me every Sunday in the pew at Wesley Methodist Church in Oklahoma City. I remember picnics in the park.

        My mother had been a widow for two years when I entered summer school at Oklahoma University in 1945. My year-older brother was in the navy. My year younger sister Harriette attended Classen High School in Oklahoma City. A Sears Roebuck scholarship for $300 enabled me to enroll in analytical geometry and physics. I thought taking some college courses might mean a better assignment when my turn to be drafted would soon arrive on my eighteenth birthday in December. The Franklin House dormitory food prepared for forty boys tasted good to me.

        One day that summer, Mother called to say she would like to take me out to lunch. She was likely coming to Norman to see her advisor for her master’s degree. She graduated with a master’s in home economics four years later, the same year that Wallace graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. I graduated the following year in electrical engineering.

The Copper Kettle, close to campus corner, was Mother’s choice for our lunch. I had not yet eaten in a nice restaurant in Norman. Mother and I ate and talked. I don’t suppose we had talked as two adults before. I don’t remember what was said, but the occasion is ingrained in my mind.

I remember a decade of Christmas Eves at Mother’s, with my brother Wallace, his wife Barbara, my sister Harriette, her husband Lloyd, my wife Nelda, and all of our children. Wallace and I would drive from our homes in Tulsa to Mother’s house in Oklahoma City on Christmas Eve. My sister Harriette’s family lived in Oklahoma City.

        While the men entertained the seven children, the women gathered in the kitchen for their assignments to prepare the dining room table and to help finish cooking the Christmas dinner. At bedtime, the mattresses were moved to the living area. The children would sleep on the box springs. Late in the evening with the children sleeping, the adults arranged gifts from Santa Claus around the tree. Harriette’s family would sleep at their house. Wallace, Barbara, Nelda, and I would sleep on mattresses on the living room floor. All that hosting happened in a house with one bathroom.

        On Christmas morning after gifts and breakfast, my family departed to celebrate Christmas with Nelda’s mother and dad in Enid, Oklahoma. Mothers create precious memories that are remembered for a lifetime.


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