Growing up with a mother whose big dreams were thwarted by a teenage pregnancy, inadequate education, and ill health.
Novelist Scofield (Opal on Dry Ground, 1994, etc.) also vividly evokes parochial and public school life in Texas during the 1950s. Her mother, who grew up poor and frail in West Texas, worked while she could on political campaigns, became a devout Catholic, and briefly took in a foster child. Her husband left her, had little to do with their children, and eventually remarried and disappeared altogether. From early childhood, Scofield was determined to achieve what her mother had been denied and to make all those sacrifices worthwhile. Young Sandra didn’t always understand Mom’s actions, like having herself photographed in the nude shortly before she died, but she was the most important figure in the life of her daughter, who treasured their times together talking, reading, and praying. Scofield recalls a childhood during which she was often the caregiver, making meals, taking charge of her younger sister, and nursing their mother. Sent away to Catholic boarding school, Sandra was homesick and lonely. In her junior year she came back to Odessa, Texas, to attend public school, where she found new challenges: boys, cliques, and a less nurturing atmosphere. Her greatest struggle, however, came in trying to keep her mother alive after a diagnosis of Bright’s disease, which was not then treatable. Ignorant of what the diagnosis meant, Scofield was not prepared for her mother’s long, painful illness at home and eventual death from kidney failure at age 33. Until the final, fatal day, Scofield was sure she could “rally the heavenly troops and keep her going.” Now middle-aged, the author still grieves for a woman who made mistakes, but was easy to love.
A tender but clear-eyed tribute.