On Mom's Birthday Anniversary:
Imagine after living in a small 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 when we went out the door. She was an officer’s wife, which had its perks. I still recall her gentle lessons before taking me to my first tea at 13, at an HBUC where dad taught, learning all about white gloves, tea hats and the ‘fru fru’ stuff. She was also an African American woman, which in the 50s - 60s, included bouts of discrimination issues.
She (and dad) had the constant balancing of change, uncertainty – of maintaining household, as he went off to war or other assignments. We’d love to talk to her now and learn how life really was from her standpoint. Someday I’ll finish my story of life in the military as African Americans. This is piece is for her today:
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, on 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 of that life, she/they both anchored and inspired us with care, love, hope and promise. She and dad raised four strong, and quite witty daughters. Some memories of her:
- She loved music, singing (a big Dinah Washington, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughn fan), and had a colorful, witty sense of humor.
- She was creative in many ways; inspired and taught me through example, to create, from scratch, sew, draw, paint, cook, just get crazy curious, and to fix stuff, all with no judgement.
- Encouraged us to be 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.
- 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 – I was 14).
- We were so very proud when we were teens, she decided to take classes and earn her dental hygienist certificate with high marks.
- She believed in God and encouraged us to pray.
- One of her great pearls of wisdom, 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”. Great advice, right?
Mom lives on in each of us and our children. In today’s times, she’d be a “Blue Star Mother/Wife”.
God bless you Mom - we love you.