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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Mothers (05/02/05)

TITLE: The Amazing Norma
By Debbie Roppolo


My mother is the epitome of strength and perseverance. Like most children growing up in the post-Depression Era, times were hard for my mother and her family. She was a simple country girl, and during those times, country people had even less then everyone else. People often made fun of the simple cotton dresses she wore that were made of animal feed or flour sacks. Mama’s unique singing voice and her faith in God helped her rise above the “country bumpkin” stereotype.

As a teenager, she won several singing contests, and earned the right to sing on the radio, and to perform with such greats as Johnny Gimble. Her singing career hit a snag when she met a soldier, Robert McIntosh. After several years of long distance dating that were filled with passionate, heart felt letters, they were wed. Mama happily walked away from her singing career, and never looked back. Most newly wedded women happily adapt to the traditional role as the homemaker, but not my mom.

Working cattle was always a hectic time. Money was short, so was there was no one, except Mama and my grandfather, that helped Daddy work the several hundred head of angry cattle. On more than one occasion, Mama, a look of grim determination on her darkly tanned face, would enter into the swirling dust of the corral and manipulate a thousand pound cow into an awaiting chute. Mama was not only my father’s best “right-hand man,” she was also his best friend. My fondest childhood memories are the ones of my father and my mother together. They had a beautiful relationship, and there was no doubt in my young mind that they loved each other deeply. Yes, my mother was a strong person, physically and spiritually, but the event that occurred on July 9, 1986, caused her world to come crashing down around her.

Daddy was an engineer for the state highway department. On the morning of July 9th, he kissed my mother goodbye, and left the house, never to be seen alive again. Later that afternoon, we received word that Daddy had been fatally injured on the job. In one brief instant, my mother has lost her best friend and the love of her life. Grief racked my mother’s body, and I couldn’t believe how frail and vulnerable she looked.

After a very brief period of mourning, Mama again took charge of her life. She reasoned that after all, she had a teenaged, modern-day version of “Elly Mae Clampett” to raise. She was determined that life was not going to keep her down. She attacked every obstacle that she met with as much gusto as she had with the last. In a short time period, she became a skilled electrician, plumber, carpenter, and horse wrangler. I was in awe of her accomplishments. There have been other instances, however, that her grit could be construed as odd.

For example, Mama once had a problem with a skunk trying to burrow under her house. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to catch the skunk in a humane trap. One night, she heard the skunk digging at the side of the house. Frustrated, with flashlight in hand, she marched outside into the night. Mama pulled a skunk out from under her house by its tail, tossed it through the air and ran, while a dazed “Skunkie” landed on his feet and waddled into the dark night.

Mama taught me how to have faith in myself, and to “dream big.” She also constantly drilled into me I could do anything that I put my mind to. However, it was from observing my mother’s grit and determination that got me through tough times in my life. For that, I will always be grateful.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Dixie Phillips05/09/05
What a beautiful tribute to an amazing mother! I really was blessed by your story.
Nancy Hardy05/10/05
What an amazing legacy your mother provided you! A very nice entry!
Suzanne R05/13/05
What an amazing mother! It is also a great peek at a particular time and place in recent history. Beautiful.
Deborah Porter 05/16/05
Debbie, what a wonderful tribute to a wonderful Mother. Well done. Just a quick reminder to watch out when you submit your entries that you don't have your name anywhere on the body of the work. I had to remove your name from the top of this entry after it was submitted. The Challenge is anonymous so that the judges can't be accused of being biased in any way toward their friends. If you can always check that you've removed it from your submission, that will be a great help. Sometimes the Judges read the entries before I've had a chance to check them. With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator)