Lois Brown Winter and daughter, Patricia Alice Winter, 1941, Miami, FL
On December 2, 2004, Lois Brown Winter died of cancer in North Carolina. She had valiantly fought with dignity and courage the disease. During this time, her daughter, Pat Winter Oakes, wrote her a letter expressing her gratitude and love. That letter is reproduced here .
I love you, Mom! I was at the bookstore the other day and saw this book. It looked like a great read, so I decided to get it for you. Then I saw that there was a place in the back for me to write something, so here we go.
One thing that I love you for is instilling in me a love of reading—I always remember seeing you read—the newspaper, of course, every day—and novels and recipes and all kinds of things. It rubbed off, since I still love to read. I remember our trips to the library where I would load up on books 5 or 6 at a time. Like you, I think, I was shy, and reading brought wonderful worlds alive to me and made me realize the possibilities that were out in the world.
I love you for making a wonderful family for us. I was not always appreciative of the discipline that you instilled in us, but I am so thankful for it now. It took a lot of effort and concern on your part to stick to your high standards when other moms were not quite as concerned. It has served us all so well. The four of us kids, even though we fought like cats and dogs and must have nearly driven you crazy when we were young, have such a bond and love each other so dearly—and it is because we grew up in a family that made family its highest priority. It helped me (with Mel’s enthusiastic support, of course) to be consistent and set high standards with our children and I think that they, too, have benefited greatly.
I love you for making me feel like I can do anything. You were the most beautiful mom on the block—actually for miles around, so I had hope that someday I, too, would be beautiful—not quite on a par with you, but not bad! You had folks over for dinner, hosted a wonderful Christmas party, made us beautiful clothes, served as president of the PTA. You were involved in our schooling and always knew where we were, who our friends were, and what we were doing. All these things made you a wonderful role model. You went to work when I was in the 6th grade and made me feel confident that I could handle things while you were gone. I love you for always taking care of yourself. It has been an inspiration and a great motivating factor in my life to take care of myself, too.
I love you because you taught me to cook and enjoy feeding folks. I have never felt that there was something I couldn’t cook. You canned tomatoes and made guava jelly (I had some the other day and felt so nostalgic) and made cookies—the best in the world! We always ate nutritiously, and I know that we owe that to your mom who was way ahead of her time.
You have always taught us that there are things to laugh at in this world. Your sense of humor has kept you going during tough times and I know that it will continue to do so. I remember the story you tell about how when you were little, you and your siblings had to sit on the cellar (cellah) steps and sort gladiola bulbs. I know that you did not have an easy childhood but you could still find humor in all of your hard work.
Even now you are still teaching all of us how to face difficulty and challenges with courage and grace. I love you, Mom!