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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Life Well Lived


This has been a difficult week.  A somber week.  A sad week.  Even my own dreams have been strange - a feeling of being lost, alone, frightened.  Losing a parent is second in heartfelt sadness only to losing a child I think.  There is something about the loss that changes the entire dynamic of our lives.  It forces us to reflect on our own lives and our own legacy in this world.

I want to remember my mother-in-law for the life she lived.  A pictorial walk down memory lane for those who knew her, those who were a part of her life, and those who never knew her.  She was a special lady.  Full of spunk and vinegar.  Full of love and laughter.  We are all better for having known her.  So here, I want to share with you a bit of what I know about my mother-in-law ...


She was born on May 14th, 1921 and was given the name Elva Geneva Newman.


She was the eldest of 6 children.  Not pictured here is a baby brother who had not yet arrived on the scene, and an older brother who had passed away at 18 months.


She grew up in Ripley, Tennessee. 1940.


She never graduated from high school.  It is my understanding that her parents took her out of school to help on their farm in Ripley.  1941.


And here she stands by the family car in a pretty floral dress.  Geneva loved dresses and dressing up. 1941.


She started to develop a more sophisticated style by 1942.


And she started to date. 1942.


A lot.  There was an entire photo album dedicated to past loves.  She was somethin' else.  Let me tell ya.  She must have been a flirt in her younger days. 1942.



For a while, she worked as a long-distance telephone operator in Memphis, Tennessee. 1943.


And she continued to sow her oats.  She was feisty.  Looks like she had some feisty friends too. 1945.


Yep.  Geneva had a fun youth.  She loved the beach too.  Here she is with a friend from New Orleans. 1947.


The older she got, the more stylish she became.  Geneva was always particular about hats, shoes, and matching outfits.  Easter 1948.


She won the title Miss Mechanics of the Bay. 1949.  Love those shoes.


I have these earrings and this necklace tucked away with all her jewelry.  She took good care of her things.  Don't you just love the hairstyle?  1949.


Geneva went to church dressed to the nines.  She was always the lady. 1949.


And always elegant. 1949.


And sometimes saucy and sexy. 1949.


Geneva had style and sophistication and great shoes. 1949.


Her hairstyle got a bit shorter, but she was always the consummate lady. 1950.


She caught the eye of Ken, aka "The Mayor of Georgia Avenue."  Ken wasn't about to let this gal slip through his fingers. 1953.


Ken took her to church. 1953.


And he took her to the beach - and laid a nookie on her to make her knees go weak. 1953.


And they played and acted silly together. 1953.


And then he proposed to his best lady, and she said "yes." 1953.


Geneva found the wedding dress of her dreams, a satin beauty.  Sept. 1953.


And we still have her wedding dress and veil packed neatly away in our cedar chest.  I pulled it out the other day and admired its beauty.  Not nearly as beautiful as the woman who wore it. Sept. 1953.


"Oh my, this is my big day!" Sept. 12, 1953.


Here they come - the happy couple.  Sept. 12, 1953.


Onto the reception and a toast for a bright future together. Sept. 12, 1953.


Off they go into the sunset and a lifetime of love and memories together. Sept. 12, 1953.


They began to build a life together. 1956.


And they enjoyed their trips to the beach. 1957.


Geneva was stylish even during her pregnancy with Bobby. 1959.


Nearly six years after they married, their first and only child was born - Robert Kenneth Vaughn, Jr. on June 7, 1959.  He weighed in at almost 9 lbs.


Bobby grew up fast, and eventually they started referring to themselves as the 3 Musketeers. 1963.


Now this is a sight for sore eyes.  What's with those glasses on Bob anyway?  I mean, he has perfect vision - or at least he did until just a few years ago. 1963.


Bob was getting taller.  Geneva was getting a little bit heavier, but she always looked great. Durham, North Carolina, 1969.


The family eventually moved to Olney, Maryland. 1970.


And they would live there for more than 30 years.  Bob was 12 years old in this picture.  I met Bob when he was 11.  His mother worked for my father and their political party when my father ran for U.S. Senate back in the 70s, and Bobby and I went to school together. I don't know that I'm diggin' those white socks and black shoes with shorts.  As a matter of fact, I know I'm not.  1972.


Eventually, Bob was towering over both of them which begged the question "The milkman?" I can remember thinking in high school "Dang, he's a tall dude."  And skinny, and he really liked my girlfriend Barbara.  1974.


Ken never failed to give Geneva exactly what she wanted for Christmas. 1975.


And Geneva never failed to keep Ken happy. Ocean City, Maryland, 1976.


They traveled the world together and celebrated the fact that their son had now graduated from high school. 1977.


They loved their home in Olney.  Geneva planted some beautiful flowers and Ken had taught Bobby well - how to care for the lawn.  Bob still loves working in the yard (aren't I a lucky gal?) 1977.


They were always happy together.  Always kissing.  Always flirting.  1978.


See what I mean? 1978.


I mean really you two - get a room!  1978.


In 1978 they traveled the world together.  They went to Germany and Italy and so many other places too numerous to mention.  Here, Geneva is relaxing in a Gondola ride. Ken took the picture. 1978.


They sure did love each other.  Ken never failed to show her just how much she meant to him.  They were always exchanging cards on holidays, and sometimes just because.  1983.


I'm sorry, I just had to put this picture in the story.  She looks too cute if you ask me. 1983.

Well, that's it for today.  More to come in the next few days. 

"We miss you Mom.  But, we know that Ken is kissing you and chasing you all over heaven right now."

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