Happy Birthday Odela Mae

Today is my mom’s birthday, as many of you know she was born in 1913, no, that is not a typo. My parents were older when they adopted me, the older I become the more I realize what a special upbringing I had. As usual I will be telling you one of my memories of my mom. Today I am going to share one of her memories as she told it to me. So here we go, buckle up, it will be a wild ride.

Shortly after my mom turned 80 I was visiting her, per usual I was waxing on about how perfect she was in my eyes. Not in a sarcastic way, I really believe my mom was perfect.

well, that day she really had had enough, she look at me and said in an exasperated tone that she was not perfect, none of us are perfect. We all sin and we all come short of the Glory of God and should live our lives accordingly. She really wished I would stop saying that especially in front of other people.

I said fine, tell me one time that you sinned, just one, I’ll take anything. She said, well ok then, and we sat there, and sat there and sat there. She finally said, when I was 5 years old, I interrupted her and said you had to go back 75 years! I can go back 75 seconds and tell you one of my sins! I may have gotten a little loud, she said do you want to hear this or not. I said I absolutely do, she she began to tell me the story of what changed the whole trajectory  of her life. 

Before I tell you the story, you have to remember she was 5 years old in 1918, that was a very different time frame than now. Think Little House on the Prairie, it was rural Oklahoma and life was very different.

On this particular day they were doing laundry, that consisted of a big fire, a huge caldron and homemade lye soap. It was my moms’ job to make sure the fire didn’t go out, she was very resentful of this job. She wanted to go play like the boys got to, but she had to stay and help with the laundry.

Her mother told her to mind the fire she was going into the house to get the clothes now that the fire was hot enough and water was boiling. She was told not to let the fire go down, she had a stick she was poking at the fire to make sure the flames stayed just right.

She was mad, she was resentful and she was 5 years old. That is a ripe combination for something bad to happen. Just then their old barn cat walked past, my mother hated this cat, the cat was mean, and she had been scratched more than once. So she took the stick she had been poking the fire with and bopped the cat on the back to make it go away from her. She wasn’t thinking, the stick was on fire, the cat yowled and she saw smoke coming from the fur. The cat ran away from her and right under the house. 

She was horrified, she knew without one doubt the house was going to catch on fire. Her mother came back, she didn’t say a word. She watched that house all day, nothing, she just knew it was going to happen when everyone went to bed.

When night came and she was in bed, she stayed awake all night praying to God. Please don’t let the house burn down, she thought to herself it will kill my whole family. My brothers, my baby sister, my mom and dad. 

Morning came and she ran outside, that cat was sitting not he porch giving her the evil eye. Not burned, just a little singed, she ran inside and got it a saucer of milk. Her mother yelled at her and told her not to give that barn cat any of the milk but she did it anyway.

She said that was the day she knew God was real and she made up her mind at 5 years old to live a life that was dedicated to the Glory of God. She wanted to be like Jesus, she said it wasn’t easy at all, no matter what people see on the outside. 

That day could have been devastating for her family, she said that it could have been devastating for the community. Houses back then were not like houses of today, they were old wood, that could easily catch on fire.

As she ended the story she told me that life is never easy, it is not easy making the decisions that align with Christ, but it is a life worth living.

I never loved my mother more for telling me that story, for showing me she wasn’t perfect and it was a struggle for her as well. 

I still believe my mother would have been canonized if we were Catholic, nothing will ever change my mind about that. 

But knowing she was human after all makes her even more perfect to me.

Happy birthday mom, I know you are having the best time with Dad, Jim, Jesse and Michael. 

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