Far too many years ago and far too soon, my mother, Iva Mildred Conley Robbins, passed from this life on a Friday night, September 23, 1983.
When I started writing this, the focus was on the night she died, but I decided to save that for more personal memoirs and write instead about what a wonderful mother I had and a few of my many memories of her life because she was such a loving person and loved her family so dearly. She would do everything she could ahead of time so she would have as much time as possible to spend with her grandchildren when they visited.
She loved to cook and sew for us and she excelled at both. The family has many precious memories about those talents. We loved her homemade rolls and her cooking in general. She remembered everyone's favorite dessert. When I had a friend spend the night with me she would drive us crazy as teenagers listing all the choices for breakfast, but it just wasn't cool to eat breakfast, so we would usually decline. She made delicious jellies and jams which is one of her talents I have never attempted. I will never be as talented at cooking or needlework as she.
Her love of flowers is something I also share, but absolutely do not have the green thumb she had. Unfortunately I didn't think to dig up the lily she got from her Aunt Violet's yard or the spider lilies that bloomed by our front steps in Abilene before Daddy sold the house. When I choose something red or pink, especially in flowers, I think of her because she loved those colors.
Since it is September, and the month for the West Texas Fair in Abilene, I want to include this memory. Mother's Uncle Will Conley gave her an apple tree he grafted just for her. She planted it in the back of our house, but when we added on to the house the tree was literally at the back door steps. Since it was precious to her, Daddy cut a hole for the tree so it was growing up through the roof he built around it between the back porch and carport. Mother would climb up a ladder to get on the roof and tie little bags made from scraps of netting around the apples so they would drop in the bags and not bruise. The bags also kept insects from damaging the apples so many of them were flawless. For several years she won first prize for her apples at the fair and was pleased she had beaten others who had professional gardeners. It always amused me that she used one of the first place ribbons as a bookmark in her Bible. How I wish we had taken a picture of that tree with the various colors of netting tied in it, but I do have at least two of the blue ribbons. Only the "back yard neighbors" knew the secret of her beautiful prize winning apples and the reason the tree was adorned with colorful balls of netting.
Two more things so dear to me are memories of her humming as she worked in the kitchen and how she loved opening the blinds each morning to greet a new day. Rarely does a day go by without me smiling and remembering her as I open the blinds in my home.
Packed away in one of my many boxes, I have the 1983 calendar that hung on Mother and Daddy's wall. Some time after her death, Daddy filled the square for the 23rd of September with black. It broke my heart when I saw it. Obviously this date still holds some sadness for me, but I am so thankful she was my mother and that I have so many happy memories of her that continue to comfort and inspire me.