Today's your birthday, so "Happy Birthday". Like every other child on the planet, I'm guilty of assigning you the one dimensional role as "Mother". Then, the other day, as I thought about your birthday coming around, I began to think about your larger role as a "whole person". I remembered your brother, Floyd's re-telling of you and your siblings' childhood...the weekend fishing trips down at the river, of your school days, of childhood crushes, of sibling fights and rivalries, of back-breaking field work even as a child, of your childhood dreams...many of them which never came true.
I think what I remember best about you was your penchant for "chasing rainbows", always faithful to the ideas that things would be better tomorrow. I wish I had one of your wonderful cobblers for every time you said "God will provide"....even when our circumstances were utterly dreary...I'd have enough cobblers to last a lifetime.
The picture here is so illustrative of that "rainbow chasing". It was during a stop, in 1952, on that first venturing from your native Oklahoma, to California. There you are, nearing your thirtieth birthday, encountering your first orange tree. So we pulled that old pickup off the road, laid down a blanket at roadside, spread out the white bread and potted meat for sandwiches, and picnicked for the first time in the Golden State. So, someone grabbed the Kodak, and captured your image for posterity...a young woman grasping that first orange from a tree, as if to show the folks back home that leaving home, and distancing yourself from family, can somehow ameliorate the pain and loneliness of that leaving. Chasing rainbows...even beneath an orange tree.
You not only chased rainbows...you threw open the bay windows and summoned us toward those multi-colored hues as well...insisting that we get an education...so that our world would be a better one than the Depression years that you endured. You filled our home with music, either from that big old stand alone radio, or through your own voicing as you warbled something from Hank Williams or Kitty Wells...that little ache in your voice reflecting sadness and loss...yet with an assurance that, with tomorrow, rainbows would grace the skies...and things would be better.
So Happy Birthday "Encley Annie Friend!" Here's a little music to celebrate your special day! (Can you still hear them amidst the harps up there?) Thanks for all the rainbows, Mom...they made those rainy days just a little less dreary.