Mom attended LSU (Louisiana State University). (Next post, I'll explain the career choice.) It's here that she met Dad. She met him in a speech class; he made her laugh. Mom had other suitors at the time. Dad would have none of this. Whenever he saw another man approach Mom, Dad would give the guys a dirty look and put his arm around Mom. She told me, "This used to irritate me, because he scared away the other men. But your Dad could always make me laugh. It's hard to stay mad at him."
It was a long walk from LSU back to her parents' home; when Dad drove up and offered her a ride home, she accepted. What Mom didn't know until after they were married was that Dad would follow her and found out her route. When Rob heard this the first time, he said, "So, basically what you're saying is that Dad stalked you!" Lol. I figured, Dad knew what he wanted, knew a good thing when he saw it.
Nana was sensitive about her height. The first time Mom introduced Dad to her parents ~ Dad walked in, he rubbed Nana's head and said, "Hi Shorty" ~ Mom thought for sure her mother would toss Dad out of the house. Instead, Nana laughed and joked with Dad. Mom was left speechless.
Like so many other people, Dad didn't believe Mom couldn't see. She really did have people fooled. If you met her, you wouldn't know either. I need to say this....
Mom has never - not. one. time. - said that she was disabled. Never.
Mom didn't want to be different and she didn't let people see her as being different. It's no wonder that Dad didn't believe Mom couldn't see.
When they were dating and at the LSU campus, Dad told Mom to get in the driver's seat of his car. Mom tried to tell Dad that she couldn't drive, because she couldn't see. He wouldn't hear of it though..... until... as she's driving, Dad yelled, "WATCH OUT FOR THE BRIDGE!" and Mom yelled back, "WHAT BRIDGE?!" Dad pulled the vehicle over and thus ended Mom's driving career. I'm sure it was an educational experience for Dad.
I'm going to jump ahead to a family vacation. My parents always took us on family trips. We went to Florida one year and stayed at a hotel where there was a golf course adjacent. Rob and I took a golf cart around and Dad rented one for the family to use. Rob and I wanted Mom to drive. I was in the back of the cart, ready to jump out at any moment's need.
As Mom turned on the golf cart and we started to move, I heard Rob yelling, "WATCH OUT! MOVE OUT OF THE WAY! BLIND LADY DRIVING! GET OUT OF THE WAY! BLIND LADY BEHIND THE WHEEL!"
Driving.... not always a funny story to share. Lilly at Lilly's Life, a fellow blogger friend, recently blogged ~ questioning, "why do bad things happen to good people?"
On a date, Dad was driving and Mom was in the passenger's seat. They were on a two-way highway. Dad didn't see the vehicle until it was too late. The girl on the other side of the highway was drunk and she swerved into them. It was a head-on collision. (The picture is one that Dad found when he went through some old paperwork. It was their vehicle after the crash.)
In those days, they didn't wear seatbelts, the dashboards were made of hard material and airbags didn’t exist. Mom's face hit the dashboard. When the ambulance arrived, Mom had lost so much blood that they thought she was a red head.
The doctors never let Mom see pictures of her from the time of the accident. They wouldn't let her look in the mirror while she stayed in recovery. She remembered being afraid to sneeze “because I was told it could kill me.”
Mom said, "This was the first time that facial reconstruction was done on someone with this severe of an accident. I made the doctor rich, because he got a name from what he did to recover my face." (One side of her face had been completely smashed in.)
The first time Mom told me about the accident, she took my hand and placed my fingers on her face. As my fingers ran down her nose and across her cheek, I felt the movement under her skin. She said, "I still have loose bones that they couldn't completely reconstruct." It was an eerie feeling.
Mom told me, "While I was in the recovery room, my eyes were swollen shut. I couldn't see anything. I heard someone open the door and I said, "Hi Dad." Your grandfather came up to my bed and asked, "How did you know it was me?" I told him that I heard his footsteps and I knew it was him." (bionic hearing, I tell you...)
I asked Mom if she remembered anything about the accident. She didn't remember a lot of details, other than being thrown forward and the fear. But she recalled this.... "I think I died at one point. I didn't see a white light. I didn't see my life flash in front of me. I saw my funeral. I was in the air, looking down. I wasn't in any kind of pain. I saw my family around my grave sight. I saw them crying and it upset me. And then I saw Lester; I heard him. He was in such pain, so hurt, missing me so much. His pain was more than I could stand.... I felt as if I crashed back into my body. I don't know how it happened, but I was alive again and feeling incredible, agonizing physical pain. But I knew I couldn't leave. I couldn't die, because I couldn't stand to see your Dad that hurt." His love brought her back.
Dad visited Mom in the hospital every day. He had bruises and broken bones, the most that bothers him to this day is neck problems and he has knee trouble (he lost two thirds of a kneecap in the accident).
I can't imagine what Mom must have looked like from the accident, what she suffered through.... and what Dad suffered through knowing his love was in pain; Dad stayed by her side. He was devoted. Mom knew she was loved and she loved him. They were married at my grandparents' home a couple of years after the accident.
Not all people were happy with the union of my parents. Paw Paw, my grandfather on Dad's side, admitted much later in his years that he didn't want my father to marry my mom. Mom knew she wasn't well accepted into the family, but there was nothing she could pin down as a specific example. It wasn't until a conversation later in years that she understood.
Paw Paw explained, "I know what having a disability means. (he had polio) It made life hard on me. Seeing Gay's disability with her sight, I didn't want her to be a burden on my son. I didn't want my son to marry you. It's taken me a long time to realize it, but I know now that I was wrong."
Dad told me about this conversation that Paw Paw said to him and Mom, a couple of years before Paw Paw passed away. I'm glad that Paw Paw took an opportunity to express the reasons and for there to be peace. I can understand why Paw Paw wanted to protect his son and I'm glad that Paw Paw saw the love between them and that Mom was never a burden. She was too independent to ever become this....
Mom's theory on life ~ you do what you have to do. You just get through it and it doesn't mean it will be easy, but keep taking those steps.
When Mom gave birth to me, they handed me to her almost immediately. Mom said, "All of the nurses kept saying, "She has big brown eyes." She told me how she went to see me at the nursery station, where they have the babies in the cribs and parents look through the glass. She was with a friend and pointed to me.
A complete stranger was with someone else and looked at where Mom pointed. The stranger said, "THAT'S not your baby!" Mom said, "Oh, yes she is!" The stranger replied, "Well, your husband must have black hair then." Mom answered, "No, he doesn't." I was born with a head full of black hair. I suppose this would make someone look twice.... I never saw those looks. Mom was always... well, my Mom.
Mom, beautiful woman that she was and still is, no matter where she went ~ was faced with prejudice. I'm grateful Dad saw the heart of her and treasures Mom.
Mom loves cats. When she was a little girl, they had a lot of cats in her neighborhood and she thought of them as her friends. When I was born, Mom told me she had reoccurring nightmares. In her dream, she was a little girl and the cats walked up to her like they always did. She would pet them and they purred. Then, for no reason, the cats turned into furious lions and attacked her. That's when Mom would wake up. She said she thinks she had the dream because she was afraid Nana would hurt me.
I hope I've done justice thus far. It's not easy to type this stuff and I really do appreciate the comments you’ve left. Sometimes you don’t if what you write will mean anything to anyone and it’s hard to blog about something that matters this much. I would love for Mom to write a book about her life.
What I write is what I know from her and my experiences... but if she wrote a book ~ to fill in the blanks and give more details ~ it would be amazing to read her life. In a way, I'm hoping that she reads my blog and it prompts her to flush out the stories more and inspire her to write.
(Mom, if you're reading this ~ I'll help you. I'll type as you talk and I'll be there for hugs too. I love you!)
~~~ **** An extra note…. Many of you might recall Greg’s car accident right before we got married. I called Dad first when I got the phone call. Dad called Mom and Rob to let them know what happened as he was coming over to pick me up. Mom told me later that Dad was in tears and choking on his words. They both were worried and scared and remembering….
To read Snippets Part 1 of 4, click here
To read Snippets Part 2 of 4, click here
To read Snippets Part 4 of 4, click here
To read Interview with Mom, click here