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Mother was special presence in my life

OPINION by Melinda Gassaway, guest column | May 14, 2023 at 4:00 a.m.

Like my mother before me, I am an only child.

And with that status, there often comes the presumption from others that we must be terribly spoiled and thus very self-centered.

I never sensed or heard that my maternal parent was inconsiderate and ego-driven. Certainly, had she been prone to those tendencies, my feisty grandmother would have quickly dispelled her of those notions and she most definitely would have seen to it that I knew to treat peers and adults with more than a modicum of respect.

That said, I can only imagine how horrified my mother would be today in a world that is so rife with downright meanness and cruelty. Just as Mary Virginia Proctor Brown was, I am a lover of words and inherited her voracious penchant for reading and some of her innate abilities for expressing oneself.

And so it has been a blessing to see those unique phrases come to life in a 1931 journal she kept during numerous foreign travels with her mother, Mary Elizabeth Parker Proctor. Her descriptions of the people, places, and artful entertainment venues were wonderful -- and often quite amusing.

In her journal, written in both pencil and ink, she also recalled many USA trips and the number of beaus she had during those early adult years. I seem to recall someone who knew her in high school saying about her with wry good humor, "Tis better to be off with old love before bringing on the new."

Mother never mentioned this intimate diary to me and I wonder what she would think about my getting such pleasure from perusing it. Oh, the shared talks we could have had about those interesting times.

She never boasted about her high school accomplishments -- that certainly would not be apropos to her upbringing.

However, in looking through extractions from the 1924 Hot Springs High School yearbook, it pleased me to see that she was the sophomore class beauty queen and I smiled to view that upturned nose we share and about which so many of her friend and mine have commented over the years.

Thanks to the generosity of my mother and father, Joseph Russey Brown, my maternal grandparents, Mary Elizabeth and Dr. John Proctor, and my paternal grandparents, Mamie Russey Schneck and George Schneck, I was able to fulfill my dreams of becoming a career journalist and follow mother's love for communicating through the printed word.

So on this Mother's Day 2023, I again send my heartfelt love and say, "Thank you, Lord" for the gift of her presence in my life.

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