On Mother's Day
Imagine after living in a small gulf coast Texas town, marrying a military man, becoming a mother and going off to see the world. Then having to shift gears every couple of years, to organize and pack up a family of six and move at least thirteen times to different locations, including Germany and Hawaii.
Then think about raising four active daughters with big hair, like hers. She kept us dressed and pressed always. An officer’s wife, which had its perks. I still recall her lessons before taking me to my first tea at 13, at an HBUC where dad taught, learning all about white gloves, stockings, tea hats and other ‘fru fru’ stuff. She was an African American woman, which in the 50s - 60s, included bouts of discrimination issues, which we witnessed her handling well.
She (and our father) had the constant balancing of change, uncertainty – of maintaining a household, as he went off to war. We'd love to talk to her now and learn how life really was from her viewpoint. Someday I’ll finish my story of life in the military as African Americans. This is piece is for her today:
Remembering our Phenomenal Mom
When I think of our beautiful mom, grand-, and great grandmother, Eula Henderson McClain, I recall how she gave so much to our family as we travelled to many places during our father’s military career.
Born into a big family in Galveston, Texas, November 1, 1925, she attended Holy Rosary Catholic school, taught by an all-black order of sisters. She married our dad, a military officer in the US Army. In spite of the constant change in that life, she/they both anchored and inspired us with care, love, hope and promise. She and dad raised four strong, beautiful and quite witty daughters. Some memories of her:
- She loved her music, singing (a big Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn fan), and had a colorful, witty sense of humor, like all of her sisters and brothers.
- I call her a totally creative "at home" mom and maker, teaching by example. She created everything from scratch, could sew, draw, paint, cook, and more. Her gumbo was the best and I saw her patiently tackle paint by numbers art pieces. Got me my first oil paint set at 13!
- Encouraged us to be independent, positive, flexible, to start fresh/anew as we faced new frontiers, homes, friends with little or no fear.
- She stood up for what’s right, in spite of discrimination. Saw that LIVE!
- Was courageous and led our family when our father was off to war in Korea and Viet Nam. (As the oldest, she quietly warned me that at any time we could get bad news, so be ready to join her – I was 14).
- She decided to take classes and earn her dental hygienist certificate with high marks. We were so very proud of her!
- She believed in God and encouraged us to pray.
- Her great pearls of wisdom to me on the "love side", was her adage I will never forget: “when you meet a man, remember that you need to get to know him summer, winter, spring and fall”. So Take heed, right?
Mom lives on in each of us and our children, grands, nephews, nieces. In today’s times, she would easily be an acclaimed “Blue Star Mother/Wife”.
God bless you Mom - we miss you & love you. Happy Mother's Day 2022!!
Patricia and family