Memories of My Mother
I typically don’t post family related stories or events but in this case I thought I’d share the words I read at the funeral of my Mom, Doris Toubin, this past Sunday, November 23, 2014.
My mom was the second of Rose and Louis Miller’s four children and only daughter. Born in San Antonio on February 18, 1934, she possessed blond hair and a singing voice worthy of recording. In an effort to make an ex-high school boyfriend jealous, she asked her older brother Marvin to invite his UT college roommate, a sophomore from Brenham, to be Doris’ date to the Thomas Jefferson High School prom. Jimmy and Doris would proceed to enjoy sixty-two years of marriage before her death this past Friday; sixty-two years of joy, tribulations, family, back seat driving, overcoming tribulations, Mahjong, and laughter.
Doris and Jim began at the University of Texas in Austin before moving to the sea side resort of Port Lavaca, TX with daughter Cheryl in tow. That splendor proved too much and the young family soon moved a few degrees above sea level to the “Rice Capital of the World”, El Campo, to open a larger New York Store where they would reside for the next 14 years. Here, both my older brother Joel and I would be born and my Mom would help vaccinate underprivileged people for polio and encourage disadvantaged children to enroll in Head Start.
However, after my Mom’s beloved mother Rose died way too young in 1968, we moved to San Antonio and for the next 46 years, Doris and Jim created not only a home, but a place for extended family gatherings with “Aunt Doris” and later “Grammy” on the phone, throwing together small lunches for 40, and freezing food as if she were preparing for the zombie apocalypse. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until college that I experienced brownies out of the oven instead of the freezer. But fresh or frozen, my Mom was the proverbial family glue, the keeper of the flame, the historian. And when many of us grew up and moved to other cities, the annual late December family party became the one time, at a minimum, where we could experience the celebration of family we remembered from childhood and the next generation could understand what we recalled.
From my Mother I learned not only the importance of family, I learned the importance of how to care for family; a legacy endowed to us all. I also learned not only the importance of standing up for myself and my beliefs, but for those unable to stand up for themselves. My mother may have been slight, but her voice was … NOT. As Mr. T might have said, “Pity the poor fool that mistreats a child or animal in front of Doris Toubin.” Each day my Mom sought to make this world a better place. Using her resources, her outrage and her kindness to work with a multitude of organizations as well as individuals to help, assist, support, protest, change, suggest, and activate Doris made a difference. No issue was too large or too small: The rights and well-being of children, Israel, Choice, Hunger… a traffic light, a disagreeable newspaper op-ed, an unclothed child. Whether through DNA, environmental influence or both, on this front I am my Mother’s child. Prone to both anger and action, she proved time and time again that “no” is a mere introductory word.
My Mother cared intensely, lived graciously, loved greatly and grieved deeply; over the loss of my brother and her first son Joel in 1991 at the age of 33. She was always present, sharp of mind and engaged. That she was, may be the hardest part.
“Doris and Jim” is like peanut butter & jelly or San Antonio & Spurs. It just goes together. And while some things unfortunately do come to an end, memories, traditions, goals, legacies, and love will always remain. We love you Mom … forever.