Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gwen Was Here...

I would like to introduce you to someone I met roughly 46 years ago. I had the privilege of calling her "mom". She loved me fiercely. And with everything she had.
Gwen was the youngest of five children. She came in to this world on September 3, 1940. The baby of the family. Born to Robert Cecil and Opal Lela Porter in McKinney, TX. She grew up to be a beautiful and mischievous young woman. She loved to have fun with her friends. Reading passages in her yearbook makes me smile. She graduated from Garland High School in 1958.

She married my dad in 1968. Longing to be a mom, they had me the next year. That's where my story begins. Life was never dull with my parents. For lots of different reasons.

 My mom had a very creative side. Since our last name was Sack she had my birth announcements printed on Safeway sacks. If you look inside my dad's high school yearbook,  a lot of people called him, "Paper Sack". Why not use it for a sense of good?

My mom never lost her desire for fun. My parents would have people over often. Any reason to have a party, right?
My mom and Aunt Sharon at my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary.

My mom and dad at some get together with friends. Check out the 1970's pocket protector folks!

My mom would also like to go see her favorite NFL team, the Dallas Cowboys. She rooted for them til the day she took her last breath. Through all of their ups and downs. Some years were better than others. Truth!

She even took trips to Vegas to see her idol, Elvis. The 8x10s she took are in an album on my shelf now. When Elvis died, I think she took it as hard as if it were her own relative dying. Maybe even harder.

She taught me the fine art of wrapping people's houses with toilet paper. It didn't stop us either that, a few times we wrapped the chief of police's house. His son was in our graduating class, and one of my friends had a long-lived crush on him. So that made him our target on occasion. My mom was the one who let us participate (quite often) in Chinese fire drills.

Her twenty years of experience as a hairstylist in one of the nicest parts of Dallas kept me motivated on trying new things. I had long hair until I decided that I wanted it cut and wanted some "bangs". She refused to cut it though. I had to ask one of the stylists she worked with to cut it. She cried that day.
My mom and I at a wedding where she did the bride's hair.

My mom knew how to throw a party. My birthday was always a special occasion. Some of my favorites are the one where we got to go on the Amtrak train between Dallas and Fort Worth. We had the whole car to our family and friends that came. One year she took my entire class to the aquarium at Fair Park. My sweet sixteen was supposed to be a surprise. But my aunt parked right next to my mom's car. I laugh about that still.

My mom survived a marriage with a partner who chose to find solace in a bottle. When my dad died she did what she had to make ends meet for her and I. She gave up being a hairstylist and found a job that offered insurance. She worked two jobs for several years. We were able to stay in our house and we got by. My mom had the strength and fortitude of any super human.

She knew what she had to do to make it through. Her resilience is something to be admired. I think her wicked sense of humor also got her through many of life's challenges. We laughed a lot.

One morning a seventeen year old ran  a red light. He t-boned my mom's car. After a month long stay at Parkland Trauma and a few months at Baylor rehab she was ready to come home. She lived the rest of her life with a metal rod in her left leg as a souvenir of that day. She was a fighter.

Then a diagnosis of diabetes came. It wasn't the end of the world, but changes needed to happen. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone cheat diabetes the way she did. Not sure I ever will.

In 1997 I met the man I would call my true love. In 1998 we married. Throughout our life together, I would almost promise you that my mom (at times) liked my husband more than she liked (possibly loved) me. There were lots of bumps in the road getting to that day with my mother, but we eventually got past those things.

My mom loved fiercely. She also lashed out at those she loved the most. She lived life the way she wanted. No apologies.

My mom wouldn't necessarily give you the shirt off of her back. But if you needed something she would buy 10 of them and give you at least 4 and she would keep the rest. My mom was known on a first name basis by the ladies at the major department stores in the area. She could outshop the best of them.

My mom had a long, sometimes difficult, road. In the last couple of years, diabetes changed her. Today she is free from diabetes. She is completely healed and in the loving arms of God.

Sometimes sorrow holds my hand and takes me down memory lane. Sometimes sorrow takes me down the road of regret.The regret of being stubborn, just like her. Opportunities wasted.

In my times of sorrow or regret, I close my eyes and rejoice in who makes me strong. He brings me peace.

 For a short time, Gwen was here. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother.

"Walk through the valley of the shadow. Don't wallow in it." Pastor Ellis at my mom's memorial.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 1 Peter 1:3


  1. Great post!!Super!!!

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  3. A wonderful life story of your mom! She was an admirable person and you did miraculously describe her! Very inspirational and educational!

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