From the Ranch

From the Ranch

Friday, October 4, 2013


"My father said she was a strong woman, and I believe a strong woman may be stronger than a man, particularly if she happens to have love in her heart.  I guess a loving woman is almost indestructible.  John Steinbeck, East of Eden

My husband's mother is dying.  She is ninety years old, and has been bed ridden for some time now, and because she was always a proud and independent woman, I feel strongly she welcomes the closing of her life in this world, and looks forward in great anticipation to her next existence in eternity.  My husband has always adored his mother, his sister has as well, and in fact the three of them have always greatly loved each other in a unique way that always survived the trials of their relationships.  They have traveled together, played cards together, ate together, and laughed together, in a continuous celebration of life that most people long to experience, but never know.  They naturally have spent their lives enjoying each others minds and true selves without effort, as long as I have known them.

I think that in large part, the gift of great intelligence that I see in both Randy and his sister Vickie, is the legacy of their mother.  I first met Randy's mother when she was about eighty two, and I was amazed then at her mind, her quick wit, her love of life, and the passion that I saw in her, even at the advanced age at which I first engaged her.

Mo, as she was known as to her grand-children, came and stayed with Randy and I directly after Hurricane Catrina, and during that time, she shared stories of her very remarkable life.  She was orphaned at the age of nine, lost two brothers in WWII, and by age fourteen, was working in a hosiery factory in Kentucky where she was born.  We did some singing at the piano when she was staying with us, and she still had a lovely clear alto voice, with perfect pitch, and she told me of traveling around to different churches with a singing group in her youth.  One of the favorite family stories is of the time Randy was stationed in Hawaii, right after he graduated from West Point, and how on a car ride up through perilous mountains there, Randy, Vickie, and his mother sang "How Great Thou Art," as Randy drove the car around the curves in the manner he has that makes one consider their own mortality during a car ride.  My favorite description of Randy includes the term "runs with scissors."  The three of them all have rooted within the depths of their truest identities, a love of adventure, and a daring passion for life.  In my mind, I can so easily envision the three of them singing at the top of their lungs, as Randy careened around the curves, playing with destiny, without regard of anything but the thrill and joy of the moment of adventure they were sharing.  I am certain that while there might have been playful protests, the two women were just as into the thrill of that ride as Randy was.  

That was the kind of woman Zora Moore was... and the passion with which she lived sometimes came out in a storm of emotion, but passionate people have those tendencies, along with their highly prized spirits, and their zest for life.  In all that she told me, and all that I have observed in her, the most outstanding quality has remained for her entire lifetime, her great love of Randy's father.  She could have had any man, but she told me that fall as we shared the same house, that she never loved any man but Ampton LeCompte, and she said that not with a far away dreamy look, but with a bold, daring stare, straight into my eyes...  She meant precisely what she was proclaiming, and though he had long been dead, and married to another when he died, for their fiery and passionate personaities made them too volatile a match, that love was still as strong as ever in her eyes.  They had parted ways when Randy was very young, but as Zora told me, he had always possessed her heart, and though she did not boast of it, I could see in her eyes the confidence that she knew he had never truly loved another as well.

It has well been observed through the centuries that women such as Zora, if the bare truth is exposed, never know true happiness when the love of their lives is lost from their life.  Instead, the rest of life is lived in a bitter sweet knowledge that it is better to have loved and lost, than never to have known true love at all.  Tonight, in the very organized room where Zora lies on her death bed, not far from her head, on a small oriental designed chest, a picture of Ampton LeCompte in his WWII Army uniform stands in a frame, the enduring evidence of a love lost, but never given up.

I am certain with the last beat of her heart, the last breath on her lips, and the last lucid thought of her mind, she will know just as strongly as on any past day of her life, that passionate love for her Ampton.  Some women are just lucky like that in life.