March—Women’s History Month! Did you know that? What a thrilling discovery! So, over the next four weeks, I plan on celebrating four women in my life and history. Some are dead; some are still alive! It doesn’t matter because they still have had an intact on me!
First, here’s a great resource with pictures from Dr. Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress to Sojourner Truth, three-quarter length portrait, standing, wearing spectacles, shawl and peaked cap, right hand resting on cane. What a wide variety of pictures of women in our history. Look at: https://womenshistorymonth.gov/about/
Now, more focused for me—where else would I start the celebration of women? My Mom—Elva Marie Dickerson Horner. Celebrating her this month has a poignant ring to it—she died March 23, 2013, ten years ago! In so many ways, that’s hard to believe! It seems longer; yet it seems like yesterday.
On March 23, 2013, at 5:10 pm, Dad and Jesus won—Dad had waited up there for seventeen long years to dance with the love of his life again. Jesus agreed with him, and the pull towards heaven won, and Mom passed from this world to the next.
Let’s Start at the Beginning
Elva Marie Dickerson Horner was born on September 24, 1928 to Virgil and Tresia Dickerson in Des Moines, NM. Mom joined her 9-year-old sister, Willa Lee.
Being the youngest child in the Dickerson home, Willa Lee tells a story about Mom: “when we went to the post office she would lie down on me—on the ground and throw a fit. I reached inside the fence and got me a switch. (Pause) She didn’t do that again.”
Living through the depression, Mom endured a hard life, living in a shack with dirt floors. Grandma would wet the dirt down and pack it hard, and Mom got in trouble for digging little holes afterwards.
Her Marriage and Family Life is Coming!
Mom loved to dance her whole life. A certain cowboy caught her eye at a dance. She noticed his unique dance style. At the Robin Hood Bar in Raton, New Mexico, he crossed the dance floor towards her. She knew he was going to ask her to dance. Then she panicked, and the romance of a lifetime started with Harold Horner, my dad. They dated; they danced!
Then, Dad and Mom were married on August 28, 1951 in Raton, New Mexico. Their married life that would span 45 years had begun. Mom immediately became stepmother to three small children and faced the trials of being a stepmom, but the children lived with their mom in Denver. They visited Mom and Dad regularly.
As newlyweds, they moved in with Dad’s parents in Branson, Colorado, and experience a small-town tradition—chevarier. Friends short-sheeted the beds, removed labels off all the canned goods, and Mom, the bride, had a wheelbarrow ride around town. Dad’s parents had the joy (and despair) of sharing this country tradition and all the effects.
Then Dad and Mom bought their own first home from the Stephenson’s a few months later—lock, stock & barrel. After the birth of my brother and me (thirteen months later), Mom’s family was intact! Her family grew with marriages, then nine grandchildren came, and then fifteen great grandchildren. She celebrated each addition to our family, so I witnessed a woman dedicated to her family.
Mom cherished family get-togethers and holidays. Her father-in-law, Laurence, loved to have family get-togethers at our house because of Mom’s cooking and hospitality!
Her Life in The Community
Lots of life happened in Branson through the years. Mom enjoyed not only her own children, but my brother’s and my friends in the community. She was happiest when her kitchen and adjacent dining room were full of young people. Mom maintained close relationships with many of these children into their adulthood.
After Granddad Horner died, Mom became Dad’s right-hand man, able to do anything on the ranch. She worked hard! In fact, in 1989, she fell off of a haystack and broke her wrist when I was teaching in Raton, New Mexico, right before shipping time. So, several rancher’s wives and I stepped in and helped cook and serve the meal to the shipping crew.
As Dad’s health worsened, I watched Mom lovingly cared for him until the end. What an example of dedicated love!
Mom had a variety of interests:
She was an avid sports fan of all Branson sports. When Bub played, she yelled loudly at basketball games, drowning out other parents. For many years, Mom sat in the same place every game with a dear friend.
In the 70s, Mom got interested in genealogy and researched both the Dickerson and Horner sides extensively. In 1999, we traveled to Eastern Europe because of her genealogy interests, looking for connections to her granddad, who immigrated here as a castaway with no records of entry into the US. Today, I cherish her black ledger with all of her records. I joined her in this interest and have entered her data into an app on my computer, Family Tree Maker.
Girlfriends have been a part of Mom’s life forever: Ellen Berry in high school; Clara Warner, Nancy Salas & Mokey McMillan years ago; Helen Waldroup; Betty Clark and Rose Ward.
Learn More About Mom
Mom had an abiding faith and became baptized and a faithful member of the Des Moines, New Mexico Methodist church, attending every Sunday with her niece and her husband. She looked forward to the time after church when a group went to a local restaurant for lunch—and a little gossiping! Her faith lasted until the end.
All of us have evidence of Mom’s beautiful handiworks: afghans, quilts, Christmas ornaments and more.
I remember Mom as quite the prankster—she loved a good practical joke. If you fell asleep at her house in the living room, a good chance you would end up with whipped cream on your nose! That is just one of her many tricks!
Often when I was with Mom, I enjoyed the privilege of hearing her laughter, so rich and inviting, seeing her eyes twinkle and her joy for living.
As you can see, Mom touched my life and many others. She formed me and others to be the women we are today, and I will be forever grateful for my mom! So be sure to celebrate the women in your life this month by doing something special for them.
Mom’s Purple Bear
Recently my husband, Lin, went through our house collecting things for a rummage sale for the Garden Center in Albuquerque. I had a purple bear on the bed in our guest bedroom I gave Mom in her dying days. Somehow the purple bear ended up in a stack of stuffed toys, and he took it to the rummage sale to sell.
Afterwards we were in the guest bedroom, and I looked at bed and realized the purple bear had disappeared. Then I looked at the top of the bookshelf where the other various stuffed toys had ended and they were gone. I realized our house cleaners probably put the bear up with the others innocently.
When I told him where I thought the precious purple bear ended up, he returned to the sale before it started, went through bags and found it. He received cheers from the workers there because he had told them, “I have to save my marriage. I have to find that bear!”
Mom embrace that bear tightly in the hospital after I gave it to her, and we kept it near her until her dying day. Lin blessed my heart with his extreme effort to retrieve it!
What women are you celebrating this month? Have you even thought about it? Which woman has influenced you? Why?
News, News, News!
~For me, it’s Christmas all year long! Here’s a variety of Christmas greetings from Flippo & Neeca, featuring his song, “When It’s Christmas Time in Texas”: https://youtu.be/mpJCUGffU3A
~My new book, Coronavirus Reflections: Bitter or Better? WON the 2022 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards in the Body, Mind & Spirit Category. Have you bought your copy yet? Vist my website: laradasbooks.com or at Amazon.