One Hot Dusty Afternoon in Payson

One hot dusty afternoon, August 9, 1927, in Payson, Oklahoma, a baby girl was born and the world became a sweeter place.

Her mother, Monte Michael, named the child Freda, after her daddy, Fred Michael a grocer who was respected and loved by many friends and neighbors in the tiny rural town of Tribbey, Oklahoma.

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Mama in her mid-teens

Tribbey is mostly gone now––just an intersection of two dirt roads is all that’s left, but the baby girl lived a big life. Freda grew up in a happy home where laughter bubbled quickly to the surface and where songs were sung and children played safe and healthy even through the depression. Monte fed her eight children well. They had poke salat, fried chicken, home baked bread. tomatoes, and snapbeans.

Freda learned to cook and sew. Sewing turned out to be her thing––her specialty. She was able to sew wedding dresses for her own sisters and for herself. Later, the family moved to Houston, Texas where Freda fell in love and married Larry Brink.

I remember Mama standing in a sunny laundry room at the ironing board pressing and folding clothes for my sister Nan and I to pack for summer Bible camp. I can smell the damp steamed cloth and starch heated by the iron that left the clothes crisp and beautiful. We weren’t wealthy, but Mama sewed new clothes for us for every occassion, so we had new clothes more often than most.

When I went to the formal junior/senior banquet in highschool, Mama sewed me a full length purple dress with a solid purple skirt and solid bodice covered with a silky sheer material of white and purple flowers. I felt like spring. During my college years she sewed me a dress with a full gathered skirt. The color was a burnt orange overlaid with a sheer cloth with raised velvety leaves. I was a maple tree in autumn. Later, when I married Ron, she made my wedding dress.

When she grew old, too tired, and too trembly of hand to thread her old Singer, she’d sit with a basket of scraps in her lap and produce dolls and stuffed animals for lucky children. Her stitches were made with excellence, creativity and a heart for people.

Mama––how I do miss her! Sometimes I am struck suddenly with a pang of grief and I take a minute or two to cry a few tears and to think what a good woman she was. I have written a small book of memories, quotes, favorite Bible verses, and stories of Mama Freda. It’s called Life With Mama. Get a copy and I think you will learn what made her such a truly marvelous mama. And you will miss her too.

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