A MOTHER’S DAY TRIBUTE

IMG_0970THE TIME WAS THE SPRING OF 1929 AND THE YOUNG WOMAN PICTURED WAS GRADUATING FROM KANSAS UNIVERSITY IN LAWRENCE, KANSAS. HER NAME WAS IRENE BRASFIELD AND SHE GREW UP IN THE SMALL TOWN OF GARDEN CITY NEAR KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI. SHE CAME FROM A LARGE FAMILY WHOSE FATHER WAS A BANKER. SHE WAS A GIFTED WOMEN WHO COULD PLAY CHOPIN ON THE PIANO AND WAS TRAINED TO TEACH GEOGRAPHY TO EIGHTH-GRADE STUDENTS.

SHE WAS A TOUGH AND INDEPENDENT WOMAN WHO CHOOSE TO LEAVE HER FAMILY FAR BEHIND AND HEAD FOR THE FRONTIER STATE OF WYOMING TO TAKE A JOB AS A TEACHER IN A TWO-ROOM SCHOOL HOUSE NEAR RIVERTON AT ARAPAHOE.

I AM STILL AMAZED AT THE BRAVERY OF A SOMEWHAT PRIVILEGED YOUNG WOMEN CHOOSING TO LEAVE HER FAMILY BEHIND AND HEAD TO THE UNKNOWN THAT THE FRONTIER OF WYOMING WAS IN THOSE DAYS, NOT TOO LONG AFTER THE FOUNDING OF THE TOWN OF RIVERTON.  DIRT STREETS AND BOARD SIDEWALKS WERE THE USUAL FOR SMALL-TOWN WYOMING IN THE 1920’S. IT MUST HAVE BEEN A SHOCK TO HER TO LEAVE  DEVELOPED MISSOURI AND GET OFF THE TRAIN IN RIVERTON AND HEAD OUT TO ARAPAHOE TO THE TWO-ROOM SCHOOL. 

FORTUNATELY FOR ME (OR YOU WOULD NOT BE READING THIS BLOG) MY UNCLE, JOHN GOODMAN, WAS IN CHARGE OF THE TWO-ROOM SCHOOL AT THAT TIME. HE INTRODUCED IRENE TO MY FATHER, RICHARD GOODMAN AND AS THEY SAY, THE REST IS HISTORY.

MY MOTHER NEEDED TO BE A STONG AND TOUGH WOMAN MANY TIMES IN HER LIFE. TEACHING 8TH GRADERS IN NOT EASY, ESPECIALLY IN TIMES WHEN OTHER TEACHERS HAD MANY PROBLEMS WITH ROUDY KIDS. SHE NEVER HAD DIFFICULTY WITH DISCIPLINE AND I CAN TELL YOU FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE SHE COULD WITHER ANYONE WITH A STARE FROM THOSE LUMINOUS EYES. THERE WERE MANY PROBLEMS WITH MY FATHER’S ILLNESS AND LATER WITH HER OWN MEDICAL CONDITIONS WHICH WERE BROUGHT ABOUT BECAUSE SHE HAD CONTRACTED RHEUMATIC FEVER AS A CHILD WHICH DAMAGED HER HEART. THE ISSUES WITH HER HEART MADE HER LAST FEW YEARS INCREASINGLY DIFFICULT. SHE HAD TO HAVE AN ARTIFICIAL HEART VALVE INSERTED AS A RESULT. AFTER A BLOOD CLOT IN HER LEG WHICH BECAME GANGRENOUS SHE WAS AIR-LIFTED TO DENVER AND HAD TO HAVE HER LEG REMOVED JUST BELOW THE KNEE. SHE REFUSED TO GIVE UP TEACHING AND RETURNED TO THE CLASSROOM.  ONE DAY AFTER SCHOOL WAS OUT SHE WAS ERASING THE BLACKBOARD TO PREPARE FOR ANOTHER DAY WHEN HER HEART VALVE PLUGGED AND SHE PASSED AWAY. SADLY SHE HAD NOT REACHED HER 65TH BIRTHDAY AND HER PLANNED RETIREMENT NEVER OCCURRED. 

SO ON THIS MOTHER’S DAY I MISS MY TOUGH MOTHER. SHE WAS A TRUE WYOMING PIONEER, IN EVERY SENSE OF THE WORD. I THANK HER FOR INSTILLING IN HER CHILDREN THE WILL TO SUCCEED, OUR OWN TOUGHNESS PERHAPS, WHICH SERVED US WELL AS WE MADE OUR JOURNEY THROUGH OUR OWN LIVES. LIVES WHICH BROUGHT THEIR OWN SHARE OF TRIALS AS WITH ALL OF US.  HONOR YOUR MOTHER ON THIS MOTHER’S DAY AND REMEMBER WITH JOY ALL THOSE INCREDIBLE THINGS SHE DID FOR YOU EACH DAY. 

 

One thought on “A MOTHER’S DAY TRIBUTE

  1. Wow, Jim, what a brave woman your mother was and your tribute to you is wonderful…..JoAn

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