"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mothers' Day Memories


Francis Faye Culp Clark

I'm usually on the road on this day every year, traveling south on U.S. 81 to the windswept hilltop cemetery at Waurika, where Mom is buried.

Jerry, Mom and Terry  ready to board the train in Albuquerque

Before I leave, I load a gallon  container of water and a gardening trowel. I stop at a Wal-Mart and buy red and yellow periwinkles or petunias. Once the two  hour trip is finished, I drive through the town where we spent 12 years raising family and running the newspaper, driving past memories, and head west on U.S. 70 to the cemetery, just a few miles north of the Red River and Mom's native Texas. Gravel crunches under the tires as I pull off the pavement and head to her grave.

There are usually birds singing, and the wind is blowing. Sparse Sunday morning traffic whizzes by. I'm usually alone. Plastic flowers and cut flowers adorn many of the graves.

Mom and I talk for a while. I occasionally sit down in the grass and write a letter to her. Then I get the water, the trowel and the flowers from the car, dig a small hole at the top of her gravestone, pour in the water and plant the flowers. Oh, I know they won't last long, but that's ok. She deserves live flowers.

Mom's Southwestern Bell basketball team, 1929. She's front row, right.

Then I pour water on the stone, washing off the dirt. The wind quickly dries the stone off, except for the water in the incised letters of her name and the dates:
Francis Faye Culp Clark
1909 1980
It takes longer to evaporate, like the memories that linger year after year. Mom and I talk some more. Then I wander through the cemetery, recognizing  the names of many of the people I used to work with or know. I come back to Mom's grave, almost all the moisture gone, bend down and kiss her name, say goodbye and start heading north.

I didn't make it this year, but will one weekend soon.

Mom's family...Mom, sister Vera (Sissie), her mother Elizabeth, sister Gladys, brother E.T. in Sissie's Dallas apartment, 1950s.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I'll be visiting my Mom's grave next month in Idaho.

    ReplyDelete