Friday, January 6, 2012

Mary Eleanor Davis Slade - A Beauty for All Ages

Today would have been my mother Mary Eleanor Davis Slade’s 83rd birthday.  The genealogical facts of her life are not extraordinary:

·         Born January 6, 1929 to Orvin Owen and Lucille Mary Rucker Davis of Shenandoah, Virginia
·         Cheerleader and graduate of Cradock High School in Portsmouth, Virginia
·         Attended Shenandoah College & Conservatory in Dayton, Virginia
·         Graduated from Madison College in Harrisonburg, Virginia
·         Married Fred Robert Slade, Jr. of Portsmouth, Virginia
·         Taught elementary, junior high, and high school, most of her career in Portsmouth, Virginia
·         Raised 2 amazingly beautiful and gifted daughters  {snicker snicker}
·         Died from ovarian cancer October 3, 2005 in Chesapeake, Virginia

But Momma was indeed extraordinary:

·         She was handy with tools.  Thank goodness, because Daddy certainly wasn’t.  She could patch a wall, change washers in a sink, paint, wallpaper, install chair rail, and even fix that flapper thing in the back of the toilet.
·         She refinished furniture and old trunks.  Just about everyone in the family has received a refurbished trunk and/or washstand. 
·         She knitted, crocheted, quilted, smocked, and sewed.  She made practically all of our clothes growing up, at least 4 wedding gowns, draperies, slipcovers, and doll clothes for Shirley Temple, Barbie, Midge, and American Girl.   The Ninja Turtle, Power Rangers, and She-Ra Princess of Power halloween costumes that she created were legendary.  They were used, reused, borrowed by other kids, and worn almost daily for pretend play. 
·         She was honest to a fault.  She wouldn’t even use those free address labels without sending a donation to whatever organization had sent them.

Momma was a bit vain, but in a good way.  She always wore makeup, and she loved clothes.  She had four closets jam-packed but never had anything to wear.  The more sequins, beads, fancy stitching and glitz, the better.  The doctors and nurses always noticed how she coordinated her shoes and jewelry to match her outfit even in the roughest days of chemo treatment.  Once when she was especially weak and tired, I suggested she put on some loose-fitting, “unbeautiful” outfit and she said, “No – that’s how those other patients dress – like they’ve given up.”  The nurses knew Momma was a fighter because she cared enough to get up and get dressed. 

Here are some of my favorite pictures of my beautiful mother (click on photos to enlarge them):

Momma (2nd from left) and her
high school buddies were friends for life.

We threatened to walk out if the City didn't
give teachers a raise.  I'm marching too, but
Momma carried the sign. 

Momma enjoyed her reunions, both
high school and college.  Of course,
that gave yet another excuse to
buy a new outfit.


  1. We are the two luckiest girls. Boy, I sure do miss her.

    You are the best writer.

    1. Wendy and Mary, We all miss her. Each Christmas when I serve her refrigerator mashed potatoes, I think back to the wonderful times I shared with your father and her. Wendy, the article about your mother brings back some great memories. Thinking of you!

  2. Beautifully written for a truly beautiful woman. Mary Eleanor was the Proverbs 31 wife and mother. I could feel the love that was layered between all that she created for family. She WAS a very extraordinary woman and you and Mary were very blessed to have had her as a mother. Her legacy lives on within you two and through her grandchildren. When you think of the lives that have been touched by her, through you two and your children...WOW!

  3. Neva, You know your Bible. Proverbs 31 was read at Momma's funeral.

  4. Looks & sounds like she was a beautiful woman. You were blessed to have such a marvelous mom.

  5. This moved me more than I could explain here...
    Thanx 4 sharing!!

  6. Mary Slade was, indeeed, an extraordinary and classy lady. Hardly a day goes by that I don't think of her. I have the privilege and pleasure of calling her my friend. When I began teaching at I. C. Norcom, she was was my mentor. It hardly seems like thirty years since we first met. Now that I have retired, I realize what an integral part of my teaching experience - and life - she was. Wendy and Mary, thanks for sharing her with the rest of us. And oh yes, I've got one of those refinished trunks too. I treasure it and what your parents meant to me. Marvin

    1. Hey there Marvin. It's a good thing you signed your name because I wouldn't be able to decipher that code. Thanks for your lovely comments.