Mother’s Day. My mom has been gone twelve years—she died fifty years to the month after we lost Dad. We three boys still talk about her—we laugh, mostly. She was that kind of gal.
I was glad that her later years were mostly fun. She had so much grief to deal with. A lot of things we boys didn’t know about. After Dad died, it was all on her. Taking care of us, paying the bills, keeping the farm going, on and on. I recall feeling kind of isolated, like maybe no one else other than God had any idea that we might be facing challenges. But in that sparsely settled country, people clear across the county may know about you.
We boys were too young to realize all she had to deal with. She’d say, “Boys, we’re going to town (Liberal, Kansas—18 miles away); I’ve got to see the banker.” So we would go to town and the three of us boys would wait in the bank lobby, surrounded by polished granite, glass, and serious looking people sitting at highly polished oak desks while Mom went in to ask J.C. Naylor for a loan to keep us going—without collateral.
Mr. Naylor—she always called him that—probably wondered if he’d ever have to tell this widow that he couldn’t lend her $500 for seed and fuel—not while those three little kids were sitting right outside his office.
He didn’t ever have to tell her “No” because she always came through … or really, God always came through. In dry years that rivaled the thirties, somehow Mom put things together—the sale of three or four yearlings or just enough wheat to pay Mr. Naylor what she promised.
A few years ago, when I went back to Oklahoma to see my brothers, Dick and I went up to Liberal. We went into one of the popular cafes for lunch. Most everybody spoke as we came in, probably because they knew my brother. We ate and on our way out, Dick went over to greet Eugene and Florence Regier, whom I scarcely knew, as they lived across the county. In the course of our discussion of the weather (dry) and farm prices (low), Eugene mentioned our mother. He remarked how he’d always admired her.
I was surprised and asked him why. He said, “When we heard your dad passed away (remember, those people pay attention to what’s going on around them), we talked among ourselves. ‘How is Mrs. Hall going to manage? Alone with those three little boys out on that farm …’ So we kept up on how you were doing. Every year, she was still going … what an incredible woman.”
Well, I knew people in our community knew us, but to think that the sympathies of good folks on the other side of the county followed our fortunes; I was amazed. I heard later that some of our relatives figured Mom would fold her tent and leave that little dry land farm that was mortgaged to the hilt.
Those relatives didn’t really know her. She said she intended to stay on the farm because it would be best for us boys. She did and it was.
That’s what always impressed us about Mom: She was always looking out for us.
What do you remember best about your mother when you were growing up? What kind of scrapes did she rescue you from? What do you wish you could do over?