20 years and I still miss you every day….I love you mom.

My mom as a young lady.
My mom as a young lady.

The anniversary of my mother’s death was June 23rd.  I simply cannot believe it’s been 20 years since my mother passed away.  Cancer is not prejudice it will attack anyone at any time.

Having such a hard time with Asthma lately has brought back some dark memories of watching my mother fight to breathe……  Lung Cancer is an ugly way to die.  If anyone who is reading this is a smoker, I beg you to stop.  If you don’t want to do it for yourself, please think of those who love you.

OK…enough of this…it’s not how I want to remember my mother.

My mother was a marvel.  She hated to cook, yet she could make a feast out of next to nothing.  Growing up I didn’t realize we had less than others, I actually thought we were well off, but as I look back I realize just how much that was because of my mom.  She was the ultimate in reusing things, and she’d never heard of “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.  She even had a compost pile, before anyone knew what to call it.  She was raised that way, and now I live that way.

She was one of the only people in my life….before my husband….who accepted me just the way I am.  She believed in me.  I believe she is the only one who believed I would graduate from college.  I did it!  With honors!  She was not surprised….I think she was the only one.

I went to a college that was just a little over an hour from home.  One morning before my classes I talked to my mother and told her how much I missed her banana pudding, when I got out of class and came back to the dorms my mother was waiting, with a huge dish of banana pudding.  She was always surprising me.

She grew up on a tobacco farm (so. of course. she became a smoker), she didn’t experience much while growing up, even when she was a young adult she really didn’t know much about the world.  I don’t mean she was naive, she simply had the heart of a little girl, but the inner strength of Super Woman.  We would go places and she would be so awed by the sites.  I shared my love for art with her, and she soaked it in.

Amazingly, my mother never graduated high-school, dropping out in the 6th grade to care for her ailing grand mother, who was raising her.  She also didn’t know ho

Head Shot of my mom. Christeen Hutchins (Moore-Calloway)
Head Shot of my mom.
Christeen Hutchins (Moore-Calloway)

w to drive until after I was born, and didn’t have a pair of blue jeans until she was in her 50’s.

I remember going to the library with her.  She was so intimidated at first, but soon she was deep in the words, looking up things she had been interested in, but never had the nerve to research them.   I remember when she got a Camaro, this woman who didn’t drive until her late 30’s loved speed….but she was very careful.  Until she backed into a mail truck, but that’s a different story.

She may have gotten her first pair of blue jeans when she was in her 50’s, but after that you couldn’t get her out of them.  She loved jeans.  Almost as much as she loved pizza!

I don’t think she had pizza until I was a girl.  She was thrilled when the cheese would leave a string from the slice to her mouth.  I once heard her say she could eat pizza hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.  And she liked everything on it!

I mentioned how strong she was, one day on her way home she was attacked and she fought of the attacker by grabbing a rock and bashing him in the head.  For days she looked in the paper to see if she had killed him.  No notice, but the attacks in the area stopped.  She always wondered.   Her first marriage ended in tragedy.  Her husband had a meeting one evening, he asked if she and their one year old daughter wanted to come, but my mom said she needed to wash diapers.  Hours later she found out he hit ice on a bridge and ran off into the water.  He drowned.  My mother was suddenly a single mother, with no income.  She moved in with her mother, went to cosmetology school, and started a life for her and her daughter.  Then she met my dad…and the story goes on.

We had such a very special relationship.  I do miss her ever moment.  I’m so honored to have been raised by such an amazing woman!

Memories of Mom…

Nineteen years ago today, my mother died.

I asked some people to share a memory they have of my mother….Here are some responses I received:

My Parents in the mid 1980’s

(from my best friend in High School)  Boy, do I have memories. Let’s begin with that laugh. Especially when she laughed at television shows. And to this day, I remember her sneezes… the sound and the way she would let go of the steering wheel when she sneezed (because she didn’t want to jerk the car). The patience of a saint – especially since we would make such huge messes with Halloween decorations, fake fingernails and heaven knows the bedroom messes. And when I think about the times when we would get “that look.” You know, the one where she didn’t approve of something we did or said. She didn’t have to say a word… you knew exactly what she was thinking when she was perfectly quiet, but looking at you like you had lost your ever-loving mind. I REALLY enjoyed your mother.

(sister of my friend above) She was so funny, she always made me laugh. I can remember riding in the car with her dont remember where we were going or what we were doing but I can still remember seeing her as if we were riding in there right now!

(from a cousin) Oh darling Wendy … your mother was my second mom. When she lived in Greensboro before you were born, I would run away from home and go to her house to “live”. Of course it was just over the hill and little did I know she was standing on the porch watching for me to come over the hill and my mom was on our porch watching me climb the hill. I was never out of sight of them. What a team! I also remember the time when I was about 8 that I cut my own hair. I was so proud of myself. Needless to say we made a special trip to see your mom to get it “evened out”. LOL … guess I wasn’t the hairdresser I thought I was. I have lots of memories, but one more that I’ll share … you may remember living in Navy housing … a brick duplex. I can’t remember the name of the place but it was something park. I remember the “bug” truck coming around spraying for mosquitoes every evening. A lot of the kids would follow the truck to get in the cool mist. Your “mean” mom made us come inside … God bless her every day for having the sense to get us out of that poison.

Photo of the spouses of my father’s siblings (and my mom, she is all the way to the right – note there were 9 children all together) This photo was taken in the late 1970’s

(another dear friend from High School) I remember her sweet voice…..I sure called you enough and she always asked how I was……she was very patient with us because we would chat for some time…..back then, we didn’t have call waiting, only a busy signal….lol….

(a neighbor when I was growing up….one correction to his memory, my mother never had a rattle snake or any other poisonous snake, but she did have non-poisonous snakes)  Wendy, I can remember growing up in Rock Bluff and thinking ” That lady must be crazy…she plays with snakes all the time.” She even had a pet rattlesnake! She wasn’t crazy at all as I got to know her better. She was a very kind and interesting person. I think she taught all the kids in the neighborhood how to handle snakes. Before we knew it we all were riding bikes with a snake in hand that we had caught. I thought of her and her snakes just a few days ago and wondered what ever happened to “Mrs. Calloway” but after reading this message i figured out that she passed while I was off at school.
She was a very kind and caring woman and I’m sure you miss her dearly! I’ll always have great memories of growing up in Rock Bluff and she was a big part of that!

(a sweet friend from High School – note when I asked for these memories I included my poem Memories of Mom and Me, this is what he refers to.)  There is nothing more that I could say more elegantly than You. Just I Miss and Love Her to . Love You Wendy.

(a friend, but when my mother was alive I was not close to her, her sister and I were good friends, the three of us did some things together, but now I consider her a dear friend.) I remember she always seemed to be moving so fast like maybe she knew time was short. I remember thinking that when you lost her.Reminds me of a lightning bug in the summer. They have a glow that fades when the weather chills but if you have seen one just at the right moment it is never forgotten. I only met her a few times but she seemed to be so dedicated and devoted to you. A moment with a mother like that is a blessing. I am sure she is already cleaning a spot in heaven for all the people she loved.

(from my father) One of the best memory I have is when I med Flippy (my mother’s nickname), I was on the bus returning to Norfolk after a weekend at home. The bus stopped in Greensboro around midnight and I saw her getting on the bus the seat next to me was empty so I pretended to be asleep so she would sit there. Lucky me she did take that seat so not long after that we started talking, I was out of cigarettes so I ask her for one. Needless to say we didn’t sleep a bit on the bus from then to Norfolk. I got her phone number in Norfolk and called her later Monday, From that time on we fell in love and had a beautiful life together.


I’ve printed this poem before, but for those who missed it, or have forgotten, I’m including it again since I mentioned it above.  This poem was written within the first few hours after my mother died, and was read at her funeral.

Memories of Mom and Me

-I look around me and all I see,
brings back memories of mom and me.
-The clouds in the sky; for hours we’d look,
picking out colors and shapes and books.
-Oh, look there’s a snap bug – remember him?
a play thing for me and mom again.
-A sea shell reminds me of a walk on the beach;
my diploma, a goal, she believed I could reach.
-Let’s go to a movie – her favorite E. T.
then go to the park and swing with me.
-An ice cream cone, a frog, a snake,
a Thanksgiving dinner we attempted to make.
-All the things around me I see,
bring back memories of mom and me.
-The people who loved her, I see in their eyes,
the love that she gave them was no surprise.
-She had a heart as big as the world
and the soul of a little girl.
-People who knew her will never forget,
because she affected everyone she met.
-Reminders of my mom are easy to see,
for there are parts of her inside of me.

by Wendy Calloway (Holcombe) June 23, 1993