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Missing Her Every Day But Especially Today, On Her Birthday

Game for just about anything, she was Room Mom to 3 different classes in 3 different grades for years, she hiked up mountains in Colorado and Wyoming even though she got mountain sickness, she was 3rd in her high school senior class because she didn’t want to be 1st or 2nd and, therefore, have to give a speech, she started college at 31- when her youngest child started first grade – finishing 4 years later with a near perfect GPA, she taught thousands of elementary and pre-school children, she loved liverwurst, was David Fuller’s “Call a Friend” lifeline, had an infectious laugh, a beautiful smile, she prayed both her stubborn sons into their walk with the Lord and she had a combined gentle spirit and Type A/Perfectionist determination.

Hiking to Upper Twelve Mile Lake, Colorado 1973

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Her name was Winifred Maxine but only my dad dared to call her “Winnie” from time to time, family and close friends called her Max, co-workers called her Maxine, her students called her Mz Fuller, Terry began calling her Mama Max when we first began dating and it eventually became her “grandmother name”,  David and Danny called her Mom. To me, she was, and will always be, Mama.

She made “3 in 3 years” look easy. As the mother of “3 in 4 years” I know it’s not.

This picture, of Mama, The Boys and me, was taken on the grounds of the Alamo in Summer 1962.

Sibs (8)


 This photos is from August 1987 with her grands.

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Sometime in the early part of this century, while living in Azle to be near Muttie after my grandfather’s stroke, Mama began to have the first brushes with the dementia, TIAs and Alzheimer’s which ultimately took first her mind and then eventually her life. I first noticed her inability to do things she’d once done well on Thanksgiving Day in 2003 when I realized she, a former secretary and teacher, had forgotten how to type and that she no longer remembered how to roll out pie crust. Some of my close friends began to notice problems in mid-2006 and David joined the party in December 2007 while Terry and I were on our first cruise. We lost her a good while before she actually died. She said my name only once in her last 30 months of life but she knew exactly what she was doing when she said it. An ICU nurse asked her if she had a daughter and she said yes. The nurse then asked what her daughter’s name was and Mama replied, “Kathy”. The nurse called me to tell me because she knew I would want to know. And she was right, I did. That was in July 2010. I never heard her say my name again and I only heard her speak once or maybe twice after that particular ICU/hospital visit.

Mama would have been 77 today. I miss her but, in truth, I missed her even while she was still alive. Those last several years she wasn’t really “her”. Daddy said it best the day he told me, “Max was the most intelligent person I ever knew and it’s just a shame her mind has let her brain down.”. I loved then, and still love now, that he saw her brain and mind as two separate entities. Frankly, it made her last 3 years easier for me as I held onto his words.

I miss you, Mama, but I’m glad you are with God and that your mind that is no longer letting down your brain. Praise God I know we’ll be together again someday.

Happy Birthday, Mama.

Flashback Friday: My Mom AKA Mama Max

Game for just about anything, she was Room Mom to 3 different classes in 3 different grades for years, she hiked up mountains in Colorado and Wyoming even though she got mountain sickness, she was 3rd in her high school senior class because she didn’t want to be 1st or 2nd and, therefore, have to give a speech, she started college at 31- when her youngest child started first grade – finishing 4 years later with a near perfect GPA, she taught thousands of elementary and pre-school children, she loved liverwurst, was David Fuller’s “Call a Friend” lifeline, had an infectious laugh, a beautiful smile, she prayed both her stubborn sons into their walk with the Lord and she had a combined gentle spirit and Type A/Perfectionist determination.

Hiking to Upper Twelve Mile Lake, Colorado 1973

scan0005

Her name was Winifred Maxine but only my dad dared to call her “Winnie” from time to time, family and close friends called her Max, co-workers called her Maxine, her students called her Mz Fuller, Terry began calling her Mama Max when we first began dating and it eventually became her “grandmother name”,  David and Danny called her Mom. To me, she was, and will always be, Mama.

She made “3 in 3 years” look easy. As the mother of “3 in 4 years” I know it wasn’t. This picture, of Mama, The Boys and me, was taken on the grounds of the Alamo in Summer 1962, the second picture, taken some 25 years later, is Mama Max and her Grands in August 1987.

Sibs (8)

scan0040

Sometime in the early part of this century, while living in Azle to be near Muttie after my grandfather’s stroke, Mama began to have the first brushes with the dementia, TIAs and Alzheimer’s which ultimately took her mind and her life. I first noticed her inability to do things she’d once done well on Thanksgiving Day in 2003 when I realized she’d forgotten how to type and how to roll out pie crust. Some of my close friends began to notice problems in 2006 and David joined the party in December 2007 while Terry and I were on our first cruise. We lost her a good while before she actually died. She said my name only once in her last 30 months of life.

Mama died 3 years ago today. I miss her but, in truth, I missed her even while she was still alive because for several years she wasn’t really her. Daddy said it best the day he told me she was the most intelligent person he’d ever known and that it was a shame her mind had let her brain down. 

I miss you, Mama, but I’m glad you are where you are with God and with a mind that is no longer letting down your brain.

Unknown Strength Becomes Known

I have written on several occasions about my sister-in-law, Tina.

Tina went from a somewhat naive 19 year old to a woman of faith and grace in the time of her short marriage to my brother. She developed a strength and resolve to go along with that faith and grace when she became a widow. The first stirrings of great strength began the very day she became a widow. While the rest of us were all still shell-shocked over Danny’s death, and Terry, David, and  I were focused on finding our dad during his vacation so we could give him bad news, Tina had the presence of mind to realize he needed funeral clothes. Danny had been working out and had “outgrown” his suit and other good clothes. I am still in awe of that shopping trip she made the afternoon we lost him. I thought then, and I remain convinced, that I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I would have walked into his closet, put my hand on something and that is what we’d have had him dressed in. Whether it was his softball uniform, his elk hunting camo, or his church slacks and shirt it wouldn’t have mattered to me because I couldn’t bear to think he was gone much less think of dressing him for a funeral. Tina, on the other hand, displayed a grace and strength that was, and remains, inspiring.

My sister-in-law was always a good friend. As a girl she was fun, lovely to look at and witty but, in her widowhood and in her second marriage, she has become a tower of strength and wisdom. She’s hardworking, loving, a fabulous wife and mom and grandma and she’s still the fun, lovely to look at and witty friend I knew in the 1980s.

When I saw this it made me think of an uncertain 25 year old widowed momma I once knew. A young woman who had an amazing strength and grew to be an inspiring woman. I’m so blessed to have her in my life.

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