Remembering My Mother

June-Capps-about-three

My mother, about three, and dressed for an outing.

Yesterday marked the anniversary of my maternal grandmother’s birth, and today is the anniversary of my mother’s. And so, I’ll think of Mama today.

The pregnancy was difficult and my grandfather reserved a private railway car to take Booger to a hospital in Oklahoma City where Mama would be born. I’m not sure how long Booger was in the hospital before she delivered. However, the baby was premature and they didn’t have equipment, or the know-how to care for preemies back then.

After mama was born, the nurse asked what the baby should wear. Not sure what Booger answered, a gown, probably. That’s what newborns wore in their first few days back then. However, I believe the nurse suggested something fancier. And, Booger realized that the nurse was asking how she wanted Mama dressed for burial… The tiny baby wasn’t expected to live… but she did. And thrived.

On that day, my grandfather found a silver fifty-cent piece on the street in Oklahoma. He tucked the coin inside a handwritten note and saved it for Mama. I believe it was still in her cedar chest the day she died, almost 93 years later.

I only know my grandfather through the loving memories Mama shared with me. One I especially like is: One day, Mama was probably about three, she decided to walk the few blocks to the bank to see her daddy. And she surprised everyone, not only because she wasn’t supposed to go to the bank alone… but… she didn’t bother to dress for the visit… Yep. Not a stitch!

From the day of her birth, through childhood, and on through her life, my mother was determined, a little adventurous, and willing to fight for what she thought was right.  Uh…  in her own way. And that’s another story, maybe next year.

Remembering My Grandmother

Booger's-wedding-photo

June 19 is my maternal grandmother’s birthday and I like to think of her on her special day. She lived more than ninety years and left us in January, 1978. Her memory lingers on, thirty-five years so far. And I’d like the next generation to carry on her memory.

Born in Pennsylvania, Lillian Trader came to Indian Territory as a young girl. About twelve, I think. I don’t think her family participated in the land lottery but came soon after the Kiowa Comanche Apache Reservation was opened to settlement. They traveled in a wagon and she thought she had come to a land of fruit trees… but she was in mesquite country.

She was a part of history as Southwestern Oklahoma was settled and prepared for statehood. Unfortunately, she didn’t like to talk about the past, said she’d “rather live in the present.”

When my mother was little, people called her a “little booger” and she thought this was a term of endearment. So, she decided to call her mother Booger. And it stuck.

Tragedy struck the family in the mid-1930s, leaving Booger a young widow. My mother was the youngest of her three daughters and the first to marry. She married without her parent’s blessing. I was the first grandchild. However, Booger didn’t want to be thought of as a grandmother and so I was taught to call her Booger (as did all her grandchildren).

In the early years of their marriage, she and her husband camped and fished, and Booger loved the outdoors all her life. I remember a small Ford tractor that she rode to a farm just outside town where she kept a small herd of cattle. She liked to garden and I think she used the “little tractor” to plow her garden each year.

She poured over seed catalogs throughout the winter and I think she always received an order of seeds and bare root plants in the spring. She loved roses, planted new ones every year, and enjoyed growing new bushes from cuttings. Her rose garden always had a number of fruit jars turned up-side-down over new cuttings. After giving the plants a good start, she gave them away.

When Mama visited her mother or her uncle, or they came to visit us, we toured the yard before going into the house for refreshments. I was the only child in the family, so I tagged along. Also, I wasn’t allowed out of Mama’s sight. I followed the tour and learned about plants and gardening. Everything in Mama’s flowerbeds came from cuttings and shared clumps of perennials. I think it would be fun to visit someone now and go home with a clump of dirt and sprouts that would take root and be a reminder of the person who grew it. I wish I had something from her yard now… of course, it’s all gone.

This blog is long enough… I’ll save some memories for next year at this time.

Storm watching

This is the season for turbulent, sometimes violent, weather in Oklahoma.

I was in my recliner reading at 5 AM this morning when a gentle rain arrived. A few minutes after that shower ended, I heard a distant rumble. A little while later, a flash of lightning lit the sky and loud thunder crashed overhead. Rain pounded the windows and wind swayed the maple tree out front. There was no warning from our weather radio. The lightning flashes weren’t that frequent and the thunder clashes not that loud. I kept reading and the early morning thundershower moved on long before sunup. Now we have misty clear skies but the weatherman promises scattered thunderstorms this afternoon.

If a storm threatens our area, we will turn the TV to channel 7 and watch the thunderstorm clouds on Doppler radar. At the same time, we’ll view the weather map on a computer. The view is so good, we can zoom in our street and know exactly how near the threatening “red” blob is. In the event “circulation” forms near, we’ll seek shelter.

Things were different when we were young and sometimes for old time’s sake, we step outside and gaze at the sky (until the rain drives us inside). If there is a lot of electrical activity, we will stay inside and watch the display from the sunroom. However, in years gone by, our dads stood out in the wind to watch the approaching clouds.

We each learned a little about storm watching form our dads. The wind may blow low non-threatening clouds across the sky. But storm clouds build high enough to reach the stratosphere and form an anvil shape at the top. The beautiful tall towering clouds on the distant horizon with the anvil streaming to one side become dark and threatening when viewed from below. Dark ragged clouds overhead contain wind and turbulence within. Clouds with greenish pockets hanging down contain hail. And if you see a portion of the cloud drop toward the ground, run for shelter.

My dad spent many hours watching the clouds while we waited inside. “Get in the cellar!” struck fear in my heart. I was afraid of the storm and not all that brave about going to the cellar. I was little and light, it felt like the wind would carry me away. And, there were creatures in the cellar. Once I touched the wall on the way down the steps and pain shot up my arm. I had come in contact with a stinging scorpion, a creature that loves dark lonely places.

Once the four of us (Mom, Dad, Little Brother, and I) were safely in the cellar, the door shut, and the lantern lit; we tried to take our minds off the hail beating on the door and the wind threatening to pull it off its hinges. Daddy made shadow rabbits in the lantern light and helped Little Brother and me position our hands to make little rabbits. Mama told us stories to pass the time. And before long, the sounds on the cellar door became silent and thunder faded into the distance. Daddy raised the cellar door and peeked out, then threw it open. “Smooth cloudy,” he’d say. And we dashed up the cellar stairs and ran for the house.

In the eighteen years I lived with my parents, only one storm did structural damage. A small tornado dipped down and took part of the roof off our house and blew the chicken house away. So… if Daddy could have sat in front of his TV and watched Doppler radar… we would have only needed to head for the cellar once.

I am so thankful for Channel 7! We see shades of green and read, know exactly where the storms are, and where they’re headed… When the weather channel issues a thunderstorm or tornado watch, we watch TV. However, a warning is issued, we stay alert and the words “Take shelter now” strike fear in our hearts.