Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Mom" Fullbright

My ex-husband's mother lived with us for many years and continued to stay with me and my children for a few years after our divorce. My husband was 20 yrs. older than me and his mother, Julia Louise Fullbright, was born in 1909 making her old enough to have been my grandmother. At a time when few women went to college, she graduated from St. Mary's University in San Antonio and was a school teacher who raised her children alone since her husband did not return from the Korean War after being captured and considered MIA just months before he was to retire from his career in the Army. She was a devout Catholic and helped many less fortunate during her lifetime. After being in charge of her life and responsible for others for so many years, most of that control was being relinquished. At one time Mom Fullbright would drive people to church who were homebound and now she could no longer drive and was living in a home where someone else made most of the decisions. She would comment to me about changes in her body and spoke about looking at her hands and not recognizing them as belonging to her. I was a young mother, in my early 20's back then and lacked the maturity and experience to have better appreciated her story. I wish I could have been equipped to have understood the stage of life that she was in and have realized what an honor it was to be witness to her truth. As time went on, “Mom” moved in with her son, I remarried and life and years went on. There was still contact and visits with the children and their grandmother which became less frequent when we moved from the East Coast in Florida to the West Coast in California. Our family grew over time and we took many family trips including one back to Florida, because my now husband, Kevin, felt that it was very important for our older children to see their grandmother while she was still living. I love and admire him very much for making that happen. We even picked up my ex so that he could spend time with us and fulfill an old promise to take the kids to “Gatorland.” Years later, I called the nursing home where Mom Fullbright was staying and asked to speak with her. It was clear that her memory had faded and she had no idea who I was. I continued to talk with her and told her at the end of our conversation that I loved her. She replied, “If you love me, that means that at one time I must have loved you too, honey.” I hung up feeling a great sense of loss and I cried and mourned her because I knew that the Julia Fullbright that I had grown to know and love was no longer with us. When the day came that we got the news that she had passed away, I was better able to handle it because I had already grieved her loss in advance. I know that she is in heaven, reunited with her husband, “Duke” and her parents and siblings who she loved so much in life. Someday I will see her again and she will remember me.