Gertrude Teague was my neighborhood momma. As summer days dawned, I would go with my friend Randy to the creek or to the top of a tree in the neighborhood or somewhere–anywhere Randy wanted to go, to be honest—because we would find a way to “go.” As our stomachs began to talk to us, we would orbit back around his place where I knew you couldn’t walk in without being checked for hunger. “Yu-uns hungry? Well, get a plate.” With my parents working at their furniture business downtown, daytime memories were made orbiting Gertrude and Gilbert’s house. Gertrude passed away this week, 21 years after her husband.
Their house has always been a place of refuge for my family. From the first nights our family spent in town, thankfully by my dad and his brother Pat, we have known the hospitality and Christian love of the Teague family. A fire took my room and very nearly took their lives but who helped us get on our feet? Gertrude and Gilbert. Who introduced us to the Church? Who did we camp out and go to the lake and play cards with? Who did we know would be there as the strongest friends this earth can know? Gertrude and Gilbert.
Gertrude lived for family. She was content to work at home rather than on a job elsewhere. There were a couple of exceptions—working at her daughter’s Steak House or taking a job so that her youngest could stay in town and graduate from the same school as all the other kids while her husband moved on to the lake. But those jobs were still for family.
Gertrude knew the meaning of work. She was a little girl when the Stock Market crashed but she grew up aware of the Depression’s effect on her as a young child. Bread wrappers were saved for plastic bags and butter tubs were used to put the leftovers away or take in your lunch box the next day. She knew how to squeeze a dollar…or should I say, a quarter. Being smart with money and working hard was her way of taking care of her family.
I never thought of Gertrude as one of those “PTA moms.” She didn’t join outside things to make her kids lives better, she focused on her kids. She wasn’t even much for attending all the sports that she allowed them to play. They could remember a few times she was on the sidelines but that was the day they were supplying the ice chest full of drinks for the team after the game. Her place was in the home. Or at the lake house. Whatever the adventure of the day, there would be plenty of good food waiting on you when you came back.
After her husband passed, as the family continued to grow, Gertrude went out and bought an RV and went traveling around Oklahoma to Blue Grass Music Shows with her siblings. She outfitted and set up and took down her own camper…after age 75 and for a dozen years. She knew how to do everything and she wasn’t afraid of the work. It was too much fun.
I’m going to miss my best friend’s mom. She was like my own mom. Our families have known the true, rare blessing of good, good friends that last a lifetime. Why don’t you build some friendships like that? Your family will appreciate it. For a long time to come.