I remember when Kevin and I were young mom would sometimes wish (out loud) that we would call her “mother.” This proclamation would come about after about the one-hundreth time of hearing us yell “mom!” This often happened on those Saturdays or summer days when after being together all the time, Kevin and I would take turns tattling on each other for some heinous offense against the other. I don’t think she realized that calling her “mother” would have felt somehow less of a term of endearment than calling her “Mom.” If the word “mom” was an acronym, in my mom’s case it would stand for:
Of course, there were times in my life when I would have used other adjectives for the “O” in MOM; the words overbearing, obstinate, opinionated, and over-protective readily come to mind. Mom was never one to hold back her thoughts and feelings about anything. I later realized that this was not necessarily a bad thing.
Mom was born in the rural community of Brumley on August 16th 1930 to Sylvester Ingram Reinhart and Celia Elizabeth Duncan Reinhart. She was the last born of 10 children; there had been 9 girls and one boy all together. She attended Barton School, and belonged to Mt. Union Church of Christ. By all accounts and from personal observations, mom’s family was a very loving and close knit group. She was brought up to be honest, fair, kind, and loving; those values served her well all of her life.
When mom was only 25 years old, her mother, Celia passed away, and a short time later, she lost her father Sylvester. Over the years she lost most of her beloved siblings; each loss left a void in her heart for the rest of her life.
On March 30th, 1956, mom married Glen Ivan Shelton and moved to the town of Brumley. At the age of 34, mom got what she had been praying for: she became a mother. Kevin Clark Shelton was born July 11th 1964. Later at the age of 36, she got the girl that she had been praying for when I came along. I was born on March 31st 1967; they named me Helen Elizabeth Shelton. Mom always told us that we were special because they picked us. It was several years before I realized that I was not chosen from a room full of babies, where mom and dad walked around, found me, and said “we’ll take that one.” I must say that it was a bit of a letdown.
Mom loved her church and her community. She was a proud member of the Brumley Baptist Church for 56 years, and was secretary for several of those years. At one time, she was a member of the 3-B club, which was a club for the wives of the Brumley Lions Club members. She was also a member of the Brumley Fireflies, which was comprised of the wives of the Brumley Fire Protection District’s firemen. She was a valuable member of the Brumley community—serving on the town board for several years. Mom belonged to an elite group of women who served funeral dinners to the families of community members that had passed away.
She was an active member of the PTA, and served on the Steering Committee that helped raise funds for the School of the Osage Track, Football field, and new High School.
Mom loved children, and was born to be a mother. She and dad adopted me and Kevin, and they also helped raise their niece, Linda Luttrell, after her mom and dad died. Mom loved her like a daughter too. Being a grandmother was truly her favorite thing. She loved her grandchildren more than anything, and the feeling was mutual.
There wasn’t anything that my mom could not do. She could sew, cook, run a business, help with home work, help organize community fund raisers, and she could even play softball! One of the things that mom did often was take people where ever they needed to go. This was not limited to family, but anyone who needed to go somewhere and couldn’t drive. Very often, her passengers were her sisters, and I was along for the ride. Mom had 2 sisters that smoked and one that chewed Kentucky twist; as you might imagine we had some interesting trips.
No matter what time of year it was, the car windows were always rolled up all the way. This was a time before we had heard of second-hand smoke. I’m sure that wherever we stopped, those four doors opened simultaneously, and billowing clouds of smoke rolled out of that old green Buick LeSabre. I’m sure to any onlookers, it was like Cheech and Chong had pulled in to shop at Walmart. I joke about it now, but I wouldn’t trade those times for anything. It was those times in the car where I learned so much of mom’s rich family history. Thanks to those trips, and other experiences with mom, dad, and extended family members, I too have a rich and colorful family history to share with the next generation.
She was bigger than life to me. I could hear her voice across a crowded room, and could always find her that way. When I heard that voice or saw that distinctly colored hair from afar, a feeling of relief and recognition would always wash over me. There was nothing but comfort there…she was home to me…my shelter from everything bad. Even up until days before her passing, she would see a look of concern on my face, and tell me “It’s OK….everything will be all right.”
She told me the other day that she was going to work soon. When I pressed for more information, she told me that she couldn’t tell me. When I asked her if it was top secret, she said it was. She had a child-like giddiness as she told me about it. I asked her when she was going to go to work, and she told me it would be around the end of the month. I asked her if she was glad to be going, and she told me she was really happy and excited about it. Mom was right. She died on the 27th of a 30-day month. That’s “around” the end of the month.
I am comforted knowing she has begun her work in Heaven, and she is free from pain and the restrictions that her body had caused her here on this gravity-laden earth. She is reunited with dad and her family members that went before her, and is in the presence of the Lord. One day, we’ll all be together again, and I’ll know her voice from the rest in a crowd, or I’ll see that distinctive hair color, and once again, I’ll be home.
Goodbye Mom….you were dearly loved and will be sorely missed.