My mother was born November 3, 1928—she would have been 85 tomorrow. She grew up in Rockwood, Texas, which is little more than a ghost town now. Mother would take me there when we would visit my Aunt Ludy Jane in a nearby town every summer. We would go to Rockwood to visit the graves of her parents, Ludy and Rutilla Crutcher, and my mother’s brother, Gail, who died of polio as a baby. We would stop at a store that had Big Red soda and Moon Pies, and Mother would visit and catch up on the local news while I had a treat.
When she was twenty she worked at a five and dime store in Coleman, Texas. It is at this store that Vernon Norris, my daddy, stopped by on his way through from California to Eastland, Texas where his family lived. He met my mother, and asked her out for a soda after she got off work. He journeyed on to Eastland, and when he got there, he mailed her back an engagement ring. On February 25, 1949 at the age of 20, mother married daddy, and the following year she had my sister, Dorinda, and three years later my brother, Darrell, was born. Mom and dad moved as work took him from the Houston area to Oklahoma when he was transferred to Tinker Air Force Base. I came along when they lived in Midwest City.
Mother was primarily a homemaker, but worked outside the home occasionally as well. She worked at what was once called Continental Plastics now Carlisle Food Service Products on Lincoln Boulevard. She made Bains Marie, the round plastic food storage tubs, but for the life of me I always thought she said Bangmarie, and you know when you google that you cannot find it.
She also worked at Dairy Queen (one of my favorite places), at Nicoma Park Junior High and other Choctaw-Nicoma Park schools and at Country Estates Elementary in the kitchen. Yes, my mother was a lunch lady. And in later years she was a private duty nurse.
We were raised in church. I think I was born on a Friday and in the nursery at church a week and two days later. When I was growing up it seemed to be just what we did on Sunday morning. In fact, it was odd that one Sunday morning we got up and Mother said we were not going to church because she had a bad dream about Darrell. As it turned out, he had been in an accident in Texas, and we left that morning to go get him. She had those premonitions on occasions.
When I was eight, I received this Bible, a Children’s Living Bible. On the presentation page it says, presented to me by after which it reads, “love and prayers and best wishes, Mother and Daddy.” And should I be confused as to who that is she wrote, “Edith and Vernon Norris.”
She would always write in the covers of books she gave me. I think Dorinda and I discovered our great love of books from her. In the case of this Bible, which has seen its fair share of wear and tear as you can see, she wrote where to find scripture passages in her beautiful flowing script. She had impeccable penmanship. She also wrote this inscription:
“Sonja, always let God have his way in your life. Hide his word in your heart. Let your life shine for Christ always, and you will receive many blessings from God.”
What do you know, she was right. Of course, me being me had to discover that on my own.
The mother I had as a child is the mother I remember today. The one who tucked me in at night as we said prayers. Who I thought was the most beautiful woman in the world. She was the one who for better or worse—and we had plenty of both—loved me and I her.
Today I envision the picture of my mother and daddy on their wedding day. A beautiful young woman about to embark on the grand adventure that is life. Not knowing what lay ahead, but she smiled that beautiful smile anyway. She always did have a beautiful smile right up to the very end.
My Sister, Brother, and I along with our families would like to express our appreciation of your thoughts and prayers during these past couple of weeks. It has meant a lot to us and we thank you for your presence here today to celebrate Mother’s life.