My mom was in her early to mid-70s when this picture was taken. Most folks who met her when she moved here thought of her as the grandma of either Kate or Matthew. Invariably the first word they would use to describe her was sweet.
Sweetness and light born from a life that was an intense mix of hardscrabble existence and shining brightness. This is a woman who skipped herself a half grade in school - and the school officials didn't put her back.
I don't want to make her out to be a saint. There were harsh parts to her, but at my age, I better understand why she had those harsh corners. She loved deeply and was immensely loyal .
She could be kindness made manifest. And she was a wizard with leftovers.
Kate's 6th grade teacher, Marie Kidd, had a phrase she would use when the students got out of hand - she would smile and say that they were behaving in a way that was, "rude, crude, and socially unacceptable".
Well, my mom could be that, too.
Here we are on my graduation night. I'm 17 and she's 57.
My dad took the picture.
I think it's even better in color.
Happy birthday, mom.