This is a day early because today would have been my mother’s ninety-seventh birthday. Margaret Louise Witt was born on February 19, 1920, the eldest child of Robert Witt and Lula Belle Wilcox Witt in the small town of
Irvine, Kentucky, pronounced “Irvin” by the locals.
Although her hair was curlier, her early pictures look a lot like some of mine,
a big-eyed rather serious looking child. When grown, she was about 5’5” with a
slender but feminine figure. She had luminous pale blue-gray eyes, very much
like her father’s, and dark auburn hair.
Although perhaps not a great beauty, she had very sweet and pretty face
and could certainly be called attractive. When she was happy her face glowed
with a lovely joy from the inside.
She was always bright and did so well in school that her teachers skipped her ahead twice, passing her over second and eighth grades. This put her in an awkward situation socially and since she was naturally a very shy and somewhat self-effacing person, I get an impression from her sporadic diary that she was often a bit lonely and not happy. She was also a talented musician and learned to play the piano early and quite well. She graduated from
High School in May, 1936 and from
college (Eastern Kentucky in Richmond
was her alma mater) in 1940. She always made honor roll level grades and in
college had a dual major in math and music. She played some recitals during
college but basically quit her music as an adult. After college she became a
medical technologist, studying and working at a Catholic hospital in Lexington and sharing an
apartment with some other young women,
|In Lexington spring 1942|
It was there that she met my father in the spring of 1942. Although he was born and raised in Missouri, by then WW II was going on and he was involved in some ‘hush-hush’ electronic communications projects since he had been an amateur radio operator as a youth and young man. They had a brief courtship as many did during those uncertain times and married on July 6, 1942. All the photos in those early years show her glowing with happiness. I am sure she was very much in love and apparently delighted to become pregnant right away and provide the first grandchild to both sides of the family. Although Dad had two older sisters, both were involved in teaching careers and never married or bore children although his younger sister did a couple of years later. Of course that first child was me.
|In KC, MO winter 42|
I am pretty sure Mom had no idea how her life was going to turn out and her vow for “richer or poorer” etc. led her through some very difficult and I think often painful times as the years went by but she stuck it out and remained married to Dad until his sudden death in an accident in March 1989. She bore him two more children, Charles Michael in November 1951 and Robert Alexander in May 1959.
I suppose it is mainly due to her self-effacing nature and to Dad’s personality but she gave up almost all of her interests and pursuits once she married. She had written poetry, played the piano and enjoyed embroidery and reading but much of that was abandoned as the years went by. After Dad’s death, she did read a lot and continued to walk daily and collect “pretty rocks”, a trait which I took on early also. She spent a lot of time in
Kentucky with her father after her mother’s
and only brother’s deaths. He outlived her by almost two years.
Then in 1993 she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and fought it valiantly for three and a half years, finally succumbing in November 1996. Although she died in her family home in
Kentucky, after a normal funeral with
viewing etc. she was cremated and I brought her ashes back to Arizona where my brothers and I had them
interred the following spring beside my dad. They both rest in the small
cemetery in where they lived their last years
together from 1977 until Dad’s death. Duncan, Arizona
| A rare shot-Mom with a mule|
out in the mountains
I regret that as a teenager and even later, I did not relate to her or even show her the respect that I should have. After Dad’s death, we did grow closer and I am most thankful for that. My main regret is that her health did not allow her the peaceful years she deserved when we might have grown even closer as we shared widowhood and aging. There are often things I would like to ask of her or share with her yet today, over twenty years later.
Yes, my birth certificate proves that I share her first name; I have never used it as it does not seem to fit me as it did her. But I am not ashamed or unhappy to share it in honor of her memory. She was a kind and caring person, the best mother she could be, and strong in a quiet way that was sometimes hard to recognize or understand. She was a product of her times and did her best to raise me to be independent and yet remain a lady, as she was to her last breath. Go in peace and harmony, Margaret Witt Morgan, with my heart’s love until we again together.
|Mom and me, 3 wks old|
|Clarkdale, AZ 1959|