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Photo BoothToday would have been my mom’s 70th birthday.  Her name is Hazel…“like a nut,” she would say, “because I’m kinda crazy.”  If mom were alive, she would be celebrating at a local BBQ place or Incredible Pizza, which is actually dad’s favorite.  She left a lot of hope and humor behind in her letters.  My mom, Hazel Ann Walker, wrote long letters; lots of them.  Each, a delightful rambling on work, recipes, my dad and life.

One of our best memories was the Thanksgiving I volunteered to help cook.  I got bored so I flew the 15 lb., uncooked bird around the kitchen before ultimately posing it like a Playboy centerfold on the sink.  Mom tried not to laugh, but when she saw the beheaded fowl provocatively positioned, she couldn’t hold it in.

Mom was the reason I got a college degree and could prepare an entire meal from scratch.  She was also the source of great emotional upheaval in my life.  Creative and tough, she did her best to keep her tortured past in the past.  She sacrificed for the good of others.  Scanning back over stacks of hand written letters, I realize that in the midst of our thorny relationship, some beautiful roses grew.  I would love to share my mom with you; in her own words.

Dear Son,                                           January 25, 1994, 1:20 PM

I love you and am concerned about you.  I love you very much (Daddy does to) and I never want you to doubt it. We are very proud of you.  We all feel trapped, scolded, hurt and confused.  At those times, take time to look at ourselves kindly.  Breathe in God’s life and celebrate that He loves us.  Grace is a gift of God.  We are not perfect.  We are humans.  We need to accept ourselves as such.  LAUGH! LAUGH! LAUGH!  As you pass through this world you’ll wear many different shoes.  You’ll never know how they feel on the other person till you’ve worn them yourself.

Life is an attitude and it depends on one’s own.  I’ve never been to college or anywhere else, but I’ve lived 46 years in this hard, old world.  Things happen that are good and BAD.  Just learn to hang in there.  Take it day by day.  Do not worry as your mother does.  It hurts God when you do.  I’ve tried to protect all of my children from hurt and the world.  That is wrong!  The way you grow up is to take on responsibility.  I think you want adult privileges, but no adult responsibility.  I want so many things for you.  Some things I want for you, money can’t buy: a good relationship with the Lord, happiness, self-confidence and positive thinking.

When you are older you’ll tend to mellow a bit. When you’re young your feelings are intense. They seem to be right up front.  It took me over 40 years to grow up in some areas of my life.  That sounded good didn’t it?  The courses you are taking are hard. Do the best you can do. I’m sure everyone who has been to college or done anything worthwhile has run into HARD times. If I look behind me and see some of the things I’ve gone through, there was some point I thought that I couldn’t have done them.  Dad & I are behind you 100%.  You can tell the Lord anything. I have and you know me! Just call upon him. Please try to go to church once a week.                                                     Love, Hazella

Son,                                                             October 27, 1992   9:15 a.m.

The world’s a better place because you’re in it!  A little crazier, maybe, but better!  (As a rule) only buy things on sale.  There is too little good in this world so spread it around.  I wore my pants backwards and Dad pooped his.  I laughed so much I threw up in the Wal-Mart parking lot and almost wet my pants.  I couldn’t get the door unlocked or window open fast enough for Jack.  He just sat there yelling.  It was a good afternoon for us.  Today is another beautiful day in Oklahoma.  I told Daddy no one would have us we’re too rotten.  I fed him hot cookies and milk at about ten last night.

I have made 10 loaves of Zucchini bread and 3 pans of orange rolls. I really need to diet, but I really love to eat. I love you and wish you well.  You need to really do some soul searching. Do you want to be an adult and accept all responsibility?  Or do you want to be a child?  No one can make these decisions for you.

I think one thing I’d really like is a clean house and nice curtains.  I guess I don’t or I would have them.  I’ve thrown away a big sack of my clothes. Aren’t you proud of me?  I know you can do good, but living life is not easy. It’s not a party everyday or a t-shirt. What really bothers me about being short staffed at work is not doing the kind of work I like to do; good work.

I’ve written bigger checks to you than anyone in my 43 years. You never know what is going to happen in your life. The Lord will help you and guide you. You need to let the Bible help you. Daddy prays for all of us. I just wish I had his faith.

We’ve always wondered if stinky people can smell themselves or if they just think it’s someone else.  I told Daddy when we got in bed Tuesday night why don’t you ever think of your legs, shoulders, hips, and knees when you’re young?  Cause they don’t hurt.

Love, Mother

Matty,

We went to church last night and had a good service. I feel so much better after I go.  The Bible says if your enemy is hungry, give him food. If he is thirsty, give his something to drink. This will make him feel ashamed of himself, and God will reward you.  I have really been trying to do better, but it’s so hard to be a Christian. The devil (so daddy says) has been putting the most horrible thoughts in my mind.  I have been reading my Bible more. For awhile I read it and none of it made sense.  Jesus is always there. Always the same.

I think someone needs to draw a picture for new Christians, so they can succeed in living a Christian life.  Prayer, Bible reading, and Christian fellowship.  Sometimes I feel like an idiot trying to be a Christian. I see things like I’ve never seen them before. I was a Christian for several years when you were small.

You are not gaining a thing by comparing yourself to someone else. I hope you will realize this and stop it.  There is always someone worse off.  Just keep looking around and you are blessed. You have a healthy body, good mind, common sense, good personality, and good looking. What you are doing (I feel in making changes) is growing up! It hurts and we don’t like it, but it’s a fact.  If you want to excel in college, it should be top priority after the Lord. I asked you to attend church once a week. More for you than for me.

Are you running from the Lord? Please don’t think I’m preaching. I’ve always felt like you had a job to do here for the Lord.  Are you maybe running from yourself?  Twenty‑four hours in a day are yours.  I keep telling myself I have the same 24 hours Helen Keller had!  When we were first married we wanted a new car, nice house, and furniture. Why?  Other people we knew had them. You want things and lot of them when you are younger.  This is the time you really can’t afford them, but when you’d enjoy them most. As you get older I think you appreciate what you get more.

A lot of people don’t have what your Dad & I have for our children and other people.  Believe it or not they would like to.  You can’t buy it with money.  Manners and being nice do not cost any money.  Always try to put yourself in the other fellow’s place and it may change your view.

I really don’t think God would have minded if I had stayed home to watch the Country Music Awards. I told Jack I think He likes country music. I did not want to end on 13 pages and now I’m to 15 pages.  I’m reading a book about Abraham Lincoln. He was very very smart and very religious. Also a good story teller. I just always think of him as tall, ugly and freeing the slaves.

P.S. Everybody has a cross to bear. Jesus loves us even though he knows our deepest thoughts. I’ve had PMS today. Poor Jack.                                  Love, Mother

Jack is my father; mom’s forever faithful husband.  He loved her unconditionally.  He showed me a Godly example of how to love a woman well, regardless.  In her absence, her letters share the very essence of a mother’s heart.

Her love for me is summed up in one sentence.  After attending my first college play where I portrayed an Indian brave wearing nothing more than a dance belt, body paint and a dish rag, she hugged me and said,

“I think you’re a real special guy; even in a loin cloth.”

Happy Birthday “June”!

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