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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Remembering My Mom

Happy Birthday, Mom!!! I Love You!!!
I would be saying that to her today as we celebrated her 77th birthday. Alas, writing about her is all I can do and since I now have a blog, it seems fitting that I should honor my mother's birth date in this way, regardless of how painful it is.

Margorie Vernell Pope was born in Monteverde, Fl on January 24, 1933, the only child of Vernell Leroy Pope and Doris Lenore Griffin. As the family was extremely poor, her baby bed was a discarded chicken wire corn crib (used to feed the pigs). She had one 10 yrs older-half sister, Ruby Marie Pope (whose mother had died in childbirth with younger brother Robert who died 3 days later) and from what I heard growing up, "baby sister" was a nuisance, especially when she wanted to follow teenage sister and a boyfriend around.

Here is a layout I did about 6 yrs ago with the one pic I have of my grandfather and grandmother, and pic of my mother at 1yr,2wks,2days old. Crazy quilts were popular during that time period, although I don't know if they had any. Nonetheless, I wanted to depict the period so I created a crazy quilt with vintage looking Making Memories papers and appropriate stitching.

I know next to nothing about my Grandmother Doris except that she/her family were from Illinois. I wonder all the time how she met my grandfather, since he/his family lived in Central Florida. I know my mother grew up, and also spent most of her adult years, wondering why her mother was so sick (all she remembered of her) and then died shortly after "Little Marjorie" turned 4 yrs old. It would be 30 yrs before she learned that her mother died of malignant brain cancer, this told her while her son, my younger brother laid dying of brain cancer (malignant we later learned).

A step-mother arrived (2nd for Marie) and severe abuse followed. At age 17 Mother took the offer of marriage to William Tobias Howze to get away from home (she told me the whole story many years later when I was 12 and she was fixing to get remarried). At 20 yrs old, fresh out of the Army, and wanting to be like his buddies (per his story to me in the mid/late 80's) he looked for 1st pretty girl who would say yes to his offer of marriage. I did this layout 6 yrs ago about their wedding day, and until 3 1/2 yrs ago I had (and wore until I lost it) the simple gold wedding band her Dad bought for her to wear because her new husband was too poor to buy her a ring. (Have to admit here I stopped scrapbooking the family story, what few pics I have, 6 yrs ago because it was all just too painful. I've yet to be able to go back).

Put two horribly abused kids together as man/wife and what do you get? Horribly abused children, that's what. My mother went from one frying pan to another with marriage to my birth father. I Praise the Lord for the good things in the midst of the bad. Most importantly, Mama came to know and accept Jesus Christ as her Savior and Lord when I was around 5 yrs old. She had to start working outside the home 2 yrs later, and I remember her precious efforts to get herself and us 3 kids ready and fed for the work/school day, then before she left and we did the dishes and walked to school, she would sit down and do morning devotions with us. She loved us and tried to give love in spite of everything.

A second marriage was 'from the frying pan into the fire'. The physical (and other) abuse was horrible; mother and 3 children some how endured. Because of all the beatings my brothers (twin and younger) were terrified of our step-father, so that fateful Saturday I was the one who ran in and rescued my mother as he was strangling her to death. As he charged after me I either thought or actually said, "lay one hand on me and I'll kill you." We survived it though. Then Lance got sick, and Mama had to bury her youngest child.

I was almost 19 before I got to leave home. The Vietnam War was going on and my twin had joined the Air Force to avoid being drafted into the Army. It didn't keep him out of 'Nam, but it did keep him off the front lines. Before I left home, however, I'd taught my mother how to play the organ (she got it after Lance died) and how to crochet. Bless her heart, she had no confidence in herself, but I knew she could do these things if she would just have some patience. My mother, who thought she couldn't do anything, went on to gain real competence (tears here) in playing the organ, doing beautiful needlework (that was unfortunately lost to the family), learn to play (great team mate) Bridge and Pinuckle (sp??), develop friendships, get heavily involved with Women's Group, so much more. THIS was the same Mother who, when I was a Senior in HS, accepting an award that my mother had to stand with me while it was given, stood there (didn't have to say a thing!!)next to me shaking like a leaf blowing in heavy wind!!!

In my early 20's I would go visit my mother who then lived in Texas, where my step-father was transferred to. I loved my mother, and loved spending time with her. Sadly, there are no pictures of the fun things we did, just precious memories. Sometimes she would come to Atlanta to visit me, so I got to have several visits a year with her. Then she got sick. Sclerodermia Grade C; the worst kind. There was no cure back then and still today there is no cure. It is a horrible, painful, Arthritic Auto-Immune Disease that, at the worst level, litterly strangles the life out of someone, hardening not only their layers of skin but all the vital organs as well. Mama was given 2 - 5 yrs to live. I spent Christmas week with her, 1977. Ten weeks later, just after her 45th birthday she died.

I MISS my mother!!! I have spent more of my life without her than I got to spend with her. And, when I came across some pictures (4 yrs ago) that I'd taken during my last visit with her, to my horror there wasn't even one picture of me and my Mom.
I have repeatedly told people, close friends who are blessed to still have their Moms, and others, "regardless of how frustrated you get with your Mom sometimes, Praise God that you still have her. Enjoy her, Honor her, Learn from her, spend time with her, take care of her. She is a rich blessing in your life."

The two most important things I got from my mother, besides the knowing that she did love me and my brothers, was
1) In 1976 my mother drove-by herself-halfway across the U.S., first to my twin in S.C. (bypassing me in Atl to go 1st to her firstborn then back track here) to confess her sins, all the horrible abuse SHE metted out to each of us as children, and on her knees ask for forgiveness. Though I said "I forgive you" at the time, it wasn't until Mother's Day 1985 (7+ yrs after her death) that my heart truly forgave. She didn't know at the time that she was sick, but the courage of her actions and her total humbleness in coming to each of us has had a lasting effect on me. It taught me to (later when I became a Mom) always have the courage to admit my failings to my daughter, and ask for her forgiveness when I have wronged her in some way.
2) Mama handled her disease with dignity and grace. She fought to keep going, with a smile on her face, right up to the very end. I have fought the battle with a related disease for almost 18 yrs now. I Praise God for the advances in modern medicine that allow me to keep going and striving to live a full life. And I hope and pray that I am succeeding in my desire to emulate my Mom.

She waits for me, with both my brothers (both lost to maligant brain cancer)in our Heavenly Home. How I miss you, Mama, even now, after all this time. You lived, not long enough to meet your grandchildren, but long enough to make a difference. Here, so that others may know, I share your story; say again I love you, I miss you horribly, Happy Birthday Mama. I remember and charish you.

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