Yesterday was the thirtieth anniversary of my mother’s dying. So long ago and in another life. Sometimes it hardly seems as if she was here at all.
She was such a tiny wisp of a lady at only 4’11”, and gone too early before her 73rd birthday. My father had given her a snow mobile the winter before, which she drove through the snowy Oregon woods at top speed. They lived at Diamond Lake, Oregon during the summer months, and in Mexico during the winter. She took classes and learned to speak a passable Spanish, while my father simply pointed to what he wanted.
In her last year or two they remained in Oregon, buying a home in Brookings on the coast, but still spending a lot of time at the Lake, where she worked in the resort grocery store and ran a gift shop at the Lodge. She had never worked, always using possible poor health as her reason, but in her role as a “lady of some importance”, she bloomed. Earning her first money, she was able to spend something on herself. She had had very dark hair as a young person, but it began turning grey when she was only in her 20’s. It became a lovely white, and since she had an innate sense of color and style, she was as pretty as she had been when my father married her.
They married at the age of 19, and the love affair lasted through all those years, surviving the many absences caused by his Naval career, including five long years during WW II when he was at sea.
Though she never seemed to be a strong person, being overshadowed by my Grandmother, in whose home we lived, I’m sure she had a certain inner strength. During peacetime when we were often stationed in another place, I never heard her complain about starting a new home, however short a time we might be there. More often than not, she was given only a week or so to pack and move. She was a good seamstress, and if we happened to be living in a one-room apartment, which we sometimes were, she made curtains, bedspreads, etc. to make it as pretty as she could. I often had a small cot on one side of the room, and if possible, she hung a dividing curtain between my side and theirs.
When we were stationed in Connecticut at the Submarine base, my father did not want to live on the Base, so they found a rather ramshackle place out in the country which we called home for the next 2 years. It had been a trailer, to which a room had been added. There was no running water, a wood stove and an outhouse a distance away. It sounds awful, and it may have been, but they were the happiest 2 years of my childhood. I have often wondered why that should be. My Grandmother’s rooming house was large and in a fine neighborhood, and the Auntie with whom I often lived during a great deal of my childhood had a lovely home. But we were all together, and my little mother was happy, which was not always the case.
She was given her grandmother’s name, and I was given hers. My Granddaughter is also a Kate, so she will not be forgotten. After she died, I came across a small slip of paper she had tucked away which said “I hope if they remember me they will say I was fun”.