Feb. 9 was my mom’s 80th birthday.
She has been in my dreams and my waking thoughts frequently on this anniversary of her birth.
I was recently handed a box of her papers by my dad, and in it were scraps of her parents’ and grandparents’ papers and photos, a box of her genealogy notes and research into the Wyatt clan, and a veritable history of the city of Irving from the late 1960s to 1990 as she saw it and helped make it as a lawyer’s wife and philanthropist.
Mom was my confidante and relationship adviser.
She wasn’t the most demonstrably affectionate person on the planet, but loved her boys and showed it in countless other ways.
She was a well-known beauty and competitive tennis player, required integrity from her friends and family, as well as herself, and was of sharp tongue and pointed pen when they were not and she had something to say.
She had a way about her that attracted the powerful for her advice and got them to listen to her.
She was a painter in the medium of watercolor, and I’m often surprised at who has her originals on their walls.
Love of the arts was her greatest motivation, and she was always at the latest, greatest events from Dallas to Fort Worth and back, many of which she helped fund over the years.
There is an arts scholarship in her name at Austin College in Sherman.
My friend William Cherry told a story about one of his friends and Las Vegas recently, which reminded me of this one from my mom’s past.
I’ve only been to Vegas once, and that was in the early ’90s.
Wasn’t the Sands next door to the Flamingo, across from Caesars?
Dad got us into the old Flamingo, right before its extensive remodel, part of which was the destruction of the Bugsy Segal apartments.
My mom was early into multiple myeloma, and beautiful as ever.
Shirley MacLaine was her doppelgänger. They could have been identical twins separated at birth. Dad somehow got tickets to see her at the Sands, at a supper club performance.
After they pulled the dishes, Shirley came out and gave her usual standing-O performance. During it, she came over and sat next to Mom, serenading her till they were both in tears.
One of my fondest memories ever. Happy birthday, Mom, wherever you are.
Todd W. Deatherage lives in Galveston.