I was recently challenged by a ?friend? to think of something my mother gave me, besides love,laundry and lunch. An object. Something tangible. And to write a paragraph about it. This ?friend? (you know who you are Annie) said she was giving this assignment only to her scholarly friends, but was giving it to me anyway: to write about what my mother gave me.
There were, of course, the usual things like my first bicycle, that red wagon, the little tractor you could almost sit on … made of wood. But those were given me by both parents.
I wandered in 1962 from the dry plains of West Texas to the plush environment of Austin (yes, there was water and wood and it was wet back then) to attend the University of Texas. I was rushed, among others, by guys from Big Spring who were KA’s, members of the Kappa Alpha Order fraternity and I wound up pledging KA and had a marvelous time. It was a tremendous experiment in socializing this kid from West Texas and in testing the balance between a social life and academics. KA helped with both. But what does that have to do with what my mother gave me?
My mother had beautiful hands. Everyone in the extended family talked about her hands. I remember those hands with fingernails that were always manicured and polished with bright red polish. Most nights, as she and dad sat in their adjacent easy chairs with the side table between them, the odor of nail polish remover would waft through the vents of the “swamp coolers” we used for air-conditioning. That meant the rapid whisk-whisk-whisk of the emory board could not be far behind, and then the painting would begin with pains-taking attention to detail. Picasso could not have done better. But what does that have to do with what my mother gave me?
Those same hands had some precision behind them. They sometimes held a fly-swatter that was being used to swat other than flies — that, you see, was sometimes what mother gave me! But with those hands, with the always-polished nails, she needle-pointed for me, the Kappa Alpha Order Coat of Arms, or crest.
It came out about 11 x 14 and when I showed it off at the KA house, everyone wanted one. It was beautiful and a perfect rendition of the crest. I was so proud of being a KA and now to have this beautiful portrayal of the crest was fantastic.
Mother had probably spent at least 50 hours needle-pointing this beautiful thing. It was her labor, a labor of love dispensed with precision and beauty, and I was so proud of it — because my mother, did it. That’s what my mother gave me.
Bette Janet Moritz Jones (1919-1999) was my mother. My sister Jan and I were so fortunate to have such a sweet mom, one who polished what surely would have been rough edges on each of us. She wound up in Marble Falls with my sister in the early 90’s and lived to work in my first campaign for District Judge, and to enjoy the celebration the night I was declared a winner. She always had quiet, wise counsel and an inherent wisdom borne out of her German ancestry. And there was always love, laundry and lunch too. Thanks Annie, this assignment evoked fond memories.
Postscript: Sadly, I no longer have the crest and cannot recall what happened to it. I would give anything to have it back because it had my mother in it — had her love and talent in it through and through.