Marion Cleo Jones Bradley was my mother. She was born in 19ll. I was born in 1947--a late and unexpected baby.
She came to my marriage in 1970. I have the photos to prove it. She wore a orange dress and a black hat and was very happy for me.
She died two years later when I was 25. I fed her ice cream on a wooden spoon in her hospital room on my birthday. My aunt Elise, her youngest sister, came into the room and wished me Happy Birthday. She was the only person besides Bern who remembered. My father didn't.
Cleo had a hard life as a child. She and her sisters would go through slate dumps from the coal mines to find pieces of coal to burn.
She eventually earned a MA in Education going summers and nights to classes at Bluefield State College and Concord College. She started teaching with only a high school diploma.
Her sister Georgia did the same thing. Aunt Elsie finally earned a Ph.D.
All this by three girls whose parents never finished Junior High.
I once asked my mother, when I was 12 or so, why I had to go with her and my father to visit relatives when I was old enough to be alone. All they did was visit our many relatives--I never remember them having 'friends' come or to visit. She told me it was because, if they died in a car wreck, I would be with them and not be left alone.
Crazy, I know. But it made sense to a 38 year old woman who had an only child.
I can't remember her much at all. I don't remember her voice--though I wish I did. I'd like to hear it today.
She never hurt me. She protected me too much. She loved me so much she couldn't imagine me living without her.
I spoke at her funeral but don't remember what I said.
She died 46 years ago.
Today, I miss her.
Happy Mothers' Day, Mommy, wherever you are.
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