Often, when Mom, Dad and me would go for drives to visit relatives, usually never more than an hour and half away, Mom would regale Dad and I with a spontaneous story. Her imagination was so quick and bright that she could spin a verbal yarn that lasted exactly the length of time it took to drive to Brandon or Dauphin or Hartney with the denouement happening just as we drove into the driveway. She even did various voices and accents if The Muse was being especially kind to her that day. Amazing!
One of her recurring stories followed the adventures of the Jones Girls, four sisters who lived on a horse ranch in Kentucky. Partially based on one of her lifelong friends, May Lee Scott, episodes of the Jones Girls never failed to compel, excite and stimulate us as we rode across the wide Canadian prairies in our little Chevy.
I owe the vast majority of my creativity to Mom and her unabashed connection to The Muse which, along with car ride stories, spawned quirky short stories, poetry and even radio station contest jingles which she frequently won. I can think of a vacuum cleaner and a set of dishes we used for years that Mom won in a contest on CKDM Dauphin or CKX Brandon.
This is a short poem about bachelors Mom wrote and sent in to a CKDM contest that won the set of dishes:
Why bachelors some men stay, that is the question of the day?
I humbly submit this little jingle, to tell you why I think men stay single.
They value most their independence, they shun the confines of a woman’s tendance
Some claim an unrequited love! Others a lack of God’s gifts from above!
But I still say they just want to be free. PS Thank goodness one changed his mind and married me!
She was a teacher mom who’d graduated Normal School in 1932, taught during the Dirty Thirties and on into wartime while Dad was overseas during WWII. Though beset with frequent migraine headaches, Mom was well read, funny and worked part-time as a teacher’s sub, salesperson and postal clerk. She organized a book club in the little town which allowed me access to adult authors like Robert Ruark, Ian Fleming, Arthur Hailey and Leon Uris. I remember struggling to understand their syntax and their meaning.
Mom’s gift to me is the gift of the gab, as the adage says. In print, in person, on tape, on the air the gift translates through media and every time refers back to Mom’s original present to me. I am so grateful to her for this wonderful legacy. I only wish she could have had a computer to easily spell out her stories as I spell out mine. I can only imagine what tales might have arisen from her if she’d had a Dell instead of a sewing machine.
Mom died eighteen years ago today. She died exactly as she wanted to – in the little hospital in the town where she’d lived for 36 of her 80 years with her family around her, natural causes her final diagnosis. I thank her daily for the creative wonders she passed along to me. Today Mom, I offer you special thanks for everything you gave me and everything you taught me. I am filled with gratitude. I love you. Reid