A little about my motherSeptember 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.