Of all the school pictures, ironic Mom kept that one!

I found it when I was getting her house ready for sale.

She died the previous winter, shortly after my retirement in 1991.

Wow! What a difficult three years after she left her house for senior living facilities.

Her mind was razor sharp the entire time. Even if she was clear across town she knew where I was, what I was supposed to be doing and that telephone was as handy as that right hand!

"Joann, why did you …" How many times in our communal lifetime did I hear her utter that phrase.

That humid morning as I ran to catch the bus, Mama hollered, "Now, honey, wear that scarf. You know how you can get an ear ache."

Didn't dare answer back. I just took a deep breath pulling the always-knotted scarf over my head, as I ran out the door because she was right as usual.

I grabbed my bike, piled the books in the basket and started pedaling down the oyster-shelled road to school. The familiar smell of the linseed-oiled floors greeted me when I walked through the large doors into the wide hallway. The door on the left led to grades 1 through 4. I proudly walked through the door on the right, which led to grades 5 through 7 while pushing the scarf back. (Mama didn't like that scarf around my neck.)

Letting it fall like that I felt like a cowgirl even though my thin, fine hair was plastered to my head and neck.

About 10 o'clock that morning, the 5th grade was called to the auditorium for their school pictures, all three of us — George, Lorraine and I.

I felt so cute. Here I was, a cowgirl with a scarf around my neck. Three weeks later I had a sinking feeling pulling the pictures out and handing them to Mama.

Then I heard, "Joann, why did you leave that scarf on around your neck?"


Born in Brazoria County, Joann Rairigh, 84, graduated from Alvin High School in 1947. After teaching English four years, she served as a public school counselor for 28 years, the last 27 in the Tyler Independent School District. She has enjoyed stained glass, water coloring, writing, traveling and participation in the AAUW book group since retirement. Moving to Meadow Lake in 2010, she still enjoys the same activities except for stained glass.



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