Monday, March 30, 2009

E. Phyllis Howland (Coleman/Mudge), By Dawn (Coleman) Walker

Happy Birthday!!
MARCH 30, 1924 - JULY 8 1998

Our mommma, Philly, had lots of husbands in between, but we don't have time for a whole book. God love her, she just didn't seem to attract good husband material. Such a mix of tender and loving, raising hell for shock reactions and truly close to many in her family is a good description of my mother.

There are so many things that made her special. When we were young going to grandma Lil's store, Aunt Gladys's and Uncle Lester's, Aunt Sylva's and Uncle Freddie's, Aunt Leona's and Uncle Neil's, and even Great Aunt Ethel's and Uncle Lloyd's were times that remain in my memories. Mom and the other adults talked with us; we sang around the piano or organ, we watched them play cards and tried to listen in on some of the adult conversations. Most of us girls would go to the bathroom with Mom and one of the other Aunts to be sure we did not miss any part of whatever they were talking about at the time.

When we were preteens, Mom would get on the floor with us and exercise. We would stand on the foot stool and go-go dance while Mom and Dad watched/clapped. Sometimes they would dance around while singing bicycle built for two and other songs from their era. One of her favorites that she used to sing with Auntie Dot (Cousin Doris) was "Little Mary Bliss, went outside to pick some flowers. She knelt down in the grass, clear up to her aaankle bowers”.
She loved to cook and made things from all ethnic groups; Italian, Polish, Slovack, American, you name it she could cook it. One year she made gingerbread men. After they were cooled and decorated, she picked one up, started chasing us girls through the house saying run gingerbread boy, run, run. It was so much fun.

I remember a time when Auntie Dot and Uncle Buddy Hawkes came to spend the night. They were laughing, drinking, and talking most of the night. The next morning to our shock, what do we see but Mom standing on the back porch, arms outstretched naked as can be, saying "Good morning world! Isn't this a wonderful day?"

She loved the picnics, reunions and all the times spent with family. She spoke a lot about the cousin times at the farm. These she described to me as times with all the Taylors talking and laughing and sharing stories. She told me that Arnon was close to Leona etc. because of the age group and living proximities. But all liked to keep in touch. CB is and has been one of the most hard working, keep it together family members, especially after Grandma Lil died.

After Mom learned to drive, she would come home from work at midnight and tell us girls to grab our blankets and pillows, "We have to go see Momma and Brother." Up to the farm we'd go in the middle of the night. We'd walk in, get hugs from Grandma and then go lie down on the floor with our blankets, while Mom spent time with Grandma. The next day we would spend time with Grandma and Wendell. Aunt Glady would either come up to be with us, or we would go out together to picnic or pick berries.

It was so exciting to my Mother that her sister Gladys would come to the house while in labor for a few of her children, before going to the hospital. Mom would brag that it wasn't time for Gladys until her water broke in our house and the baby was near.

When Aunt Glady was so ill with ALS, each time I spoke with Mom on the phone, she would cry and tell me that she prayed so hard that GOD would take her sister home as soon as possible. She told Gladys how she felt. I've never seen my mother so sad. After Aunt Glady died Mom spoke of her going also. In less than a year's time Mom also died.

My mother was witty and bright, intelligent and complex, had such a sense of humor; she was warm and sensitive and could be vulgar and shocking .She taught us so much about life. Now that I am grown up (in my late 50's), I realize that even the things that I thought were so awful at the time, when I was younger, I would not change. All is for a reason. I have been so blessed to come from a family with the beauty of a wonderful quilt; the darker hues make the flowers and colors so much more beautiful. I loved my mother with all my heart!

Picture One: Grand-daughter Kelley Renee & Phyllis, 1996
Picture Two: Great-Grandson Anthony & Phyllis,1996
Picture Three: Great-Granddaughter Renee & Phyllis,1996


Pat said...


Thank you so much--great write up of your ma!

I love hearing these stories, I feel as though I begin to know her better.

She does sound like a hoot!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Phylly,


CB said...

What a wonderful loving testimony to a loving mother! I can hear the sobs in Philly's throat now--she so much needed attention. All her craziness, which defined her , was an attempt from childhood to get SOMEONE to notice she was alive and important. [ or so I believe] You , Dawn, have done this beautifully and for Philly I say "love to you for a job well done!
PS- and "Little Miss Bliss" How the nieces wanted to hear the rest of the song!!![ I doubt whether either Doris OR Philly knew any more But they left all hanging!!]

Kathryn said...

Great write up on Aunt Phyl!
She was really something! A trip to Binghamton was not complete without a visit to her house.
At Ma's calling hours, we all noticed the card on the flowers from Aunt Phyl. She wrote "see you soon" on it. And she did.

CB said...

Well Kathryn, You did it again!! I did not know of Philly's card on Your Mom's flowers!!How like her, and she Did know! I miss them both!!Harold and I often reminesce about those two and laugh ay our memories. AS Dawn said, are'nt we lucky to have them! CB, again!