A little about my mother

September 13, 2009

She passed away this morning at 2:15am. She knew she was loved.


My mother was an artist, though she didn’t pursue a career in it. Growing up, I spent most days with her at the Dallas Museum of Art. We would walk through the hallways and she explained the theory behind all art we came across. When I was in kindergarten, the class took a field trip to the DMA.

“Can anyone tell me what this is?” the docent asked, pointing at a flower painting.

I raised my hand. “It’s a Georgio O’Keefe.”

“Uh, right. Does anyone know what is special about this painting?”

“Its use of shading.”

“Uh……good.  That’ right.  There is shading…” She droned on and I probably got bored. Later, we were looking at a Van Gogh and I let (or was probably asked) other kids answer a question.
“Does anyone know what this painting is?” I kept my hands by my side.

“Are they houses?” “Are they cars?” “Are they ballerinas?”

Disgusted, I blurted out, “They’re haystacks!” My mother was a chaperon on the trip and I remember her laughter the best.


My mother and I hugged a lot. We had bear hugs. Those were hugs that were so hard and tight, they left me gasping for breath. It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had one of those bear hugs. They mean something different to me now.


My mother’s name is Brent. Her mother’s middle name is Brent. My sister’s middle name is Brent. We have a lot of Brents. I didn’t know that men are usually called Brent until I was in high school. The notion that a man can be named Brent is still strange to me.


Of my mother’s family, only her sister and I live outside Florida. Every time I visit, I’m introduced as her son…from Texas. It doesn’t matter how many times or who it is. I’m from Texas. I’m okay with that. In this past week, I learned a new nickname that she has for me. It’s “3.” I’m her third child. The other nickname is from my initials, TDPJT. You figure it out.


I visit Gainesville once a year to visit the family. My mother and I had a standing date every year to eat Vietnamese. Though the Vietnamese population is tiny and the food in those restaurants isn’t that great, I think that I’ll continue eating from one of the town’s few restaurants once a year.


My mother was a bus driver in the City of Gainesville. She loved it. She loved having the personal interactions, the regulars and getting to “drive a tank in a street every day.” In February 2008, one of her regulars was complaining about Hilary Clinton, calling her names and trashing her presidential campaign. At one point, my mother put the bus in park in the middle of the street, turned around in her chair and pointed at the man. “You have Gulf War Syndrome, right? Every thing you have – the roof over your head, the food you eat, the medicines you take, the clothes on your back, everything – is because of that woman you claim to hate. Sit down, shut up and learn more about these people before you do it again.” He sat and didn’t say a word for the rest of the trip. I was so proud.


My mother loved blueberries (“blueberry pancakes at Taffy’s are the best”), Chanel No. 5, almond croissants, and cars, but she loved her children most of all. She loved and wanted to know every success, award and accomplishment. I only visited her once a year and will never know every possible thing about her. However, I’m confident that I’ll know her best by getting to know myself.

Whenever possible and if you can, please give blood and platelets.



  1. The love you express for your mother is beautiful. A piece of my heart is breaking for you.
    Know you are loved.

  2. Paul,

    What a tribute….

  3. Paul,
    I am so sorry for your loss.
    Your mother sounded like a truly wonderful person.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you during this
    difficult time. Just remember, she will be with you ALWAYS.

    Jay Narey

  4. I am so glad our paths crossed, she raised a great son, y’all are in my prayers. Siempre tu amiga Martha

  5. Paul, We are so sorry to read of your mother’s passing. I can tell from your writings what a wonderful woman she was, as well as what an amazing son she raised. You are in our thoughts.

    Eric Johnson

  6. Paul,

    I am so sorry for your loss. I have not yet lost a parent, but have lost a partner, and know how heart-rending it is, especially at first. Your mother sounds like a wonderful person.
    But they stay with us, they live in our memories, and, I believe, watch over us and send us signs and even hugs, from time to time.
    I will hold a good thought for you and your family.


    Houston, Texas

  7. Paul,

    I loved reading about your mother. I can so totally see you as a young boy blurting out about art and making your mother immensely proud.

    A part of your mother lives on in each of us because of you. You can never know all of the incredible things about your mother, just know that all of the incredible things you now do are because of the love she instilled in you.

    You are amazing and no doubt, Brent is too.

    Lots of Love,

  8. Paul-
    I’m so sorry for your loss. You and your family are in my prayers. Next month on your birthday, I’m sure that if you close your eyes, you’ll feel one of those great bear hugs!

    Much Love
    Mary Jane

  9. Chanel No. 5 — What a lady! 🙂

  10. She sounds like an amazing, inspirational woman. I’m so sorry for your loss, and I wish you comfort …

  11. Paul,

    I am very sorry to hear about your mother. I know she must have been an amazing person as she raised a wonderful child. I imagine it is very hard losing the person who bought us into the world. My thoughts are wit you at this difficult time.


  12. Paul,

    I don’t know you very well. We really have only met a few times with my sister Meghan. But, I know you to be a good person and all of those atributes of your character are reflections of your mothers love. So I want you to go forward in your life meeting those you encounter with the same honesty and passion that you always have. Every hand that you reach out to, know that your mother has hers at the middle of your back to comfort and guide you thoughout this difficult time and for the rest of your life.


  13. Wow! What a lady! Wish I could have known her. My deepest sympathies.


  14. Paul, I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. It’s clear that she was a unique individual and well loved by you and her family and friends. My heart goes out to you all.


  15. Paul,

    thanks for sharing. My thoughts and prayers are with you and, while I could not begin to phathom what you are going through, I know you are on the right track in focusing on such amazing memories.

  16. I knew your mom. You can’t help but smile when you think of Brent. I live in Gainesville, and I just happened to stumble upon this site. Brent was Brent. She believed in the good in people; she would bust her butt doing anything she could for you if you needed her; she was an amazing story teller; most of all, she LOVED her children. I will miss her and can’t imagine this town without her. Seeing her driving her bus, having her wave always made you smile. Brent. You can’t help but smile when you think of her.

  17. I am sorry to hear of your mother’s passing. I am giving you a mental “bear hug” right now. Know that someone in CT is praying for you and your family. Continue to remember all those wonderful moments with you mom and share them with those who love you.

  18. Paul, I am so sorry to hear about your loss. I will donate blood in Brent’s honor.

  19. I did not know your mother, but i remember you telling me stories about her. I am saddened by her passing and I am thankful she lived for because of her, you were brought into this world and you are so loved, Paul. The woman who made you was a great woman indeed. I have never donated blood before.. but I will now.

  20. Paul,

    We wish you and your family peace in these days. It is so true that you will come to know your Mother as never before as you come to know yourself fully and witness how ever present she will be in the lives of those she touched. We are all grateful that she shared you with Texas.

    J.D. and Joel

  21. Paul,

    Know that her beauty and art live on in the beauty and art of her children, namely you.
    I think you are a beautiful person, and I hope you know that.
    Please be at peace in the fact that you are a reflection of your mother AND what she wanted from the world, and you.

    Melissa (Kristen’s work friend 🙂 )

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