Barbara Lewis Duke, pretty petite, blue-eyed and blond, my mother, one fearless, controlling woman. Long after Mother’s death, Dad said, “Barbara was afraid of absolutely no one and nothing.” They married late: 34 and 38. He adored her unconditionally. She filled my life with horses, music, love, cornfields, hay rides, books, ambition. Whatever she felt she had missed, I was going to possess: piano lessons, a college education. Her father, who died long before I was born, loved fancy, fast horses. So did she. During my preschool, croupy years, she quieted my hysterical night coughing with stories of run aways horses pulling her in a wagon. With less than one hundred pounds and lots of determination, she stopped them, a tiny Barbie Doll flying across the Missouri River Bottom, strong, willful, free.
Note: this poem is in my book “On the Rim of Wonder” and was also recently published in “Inside and Out”, a collection of writings by women. It is available on Amazon and published by the Story Circle Network.
Addendum: My mother loved horses and flowers. When I look at the flowers around my house I think of my mother. And, yes, I have horses. The following photos are dedicated to my mother’s memory.
My mother’s mother and father.