Winifred Anne Butler, "Winky", was born in Chattanooga during the depression. She graduated high school at the age of 16 because she was super intelligent. She became Miss Chattanooga (I don't know the year), toured with Mickey Rooney in a traveling medicine show, and then joined the army when she was 20, so she could travel the world. Her plans changed when she got pregnant, and got married instead. My oldest brother was born in 1951.
Mom raised 6 kids, while teaching Spanish at a high school full-time. She became so involved with her job (and her students) that she became an absentee mother for a while, and throughout high school I felt much closer to my dad. But once my parents finally got a divorce when I was 18, I moved out with Mom to help her cope.
My mom performed in a production of Hello Dolly with me, and loved coming to see every play I was ever in. She showed up for a one-woman revue I did once dressed in a t-Shirt emblazoned with the words: "Holly Butler Fan Club, Charter Member." When I started to write songs, my mom started writing songs too, and had high hopes for both of us! During my lowest point when my own marriage was failing in 1994, Mom gave me a pep talk that was quite possibly life-saving. In her final years, she wrote a memoir titled, "Rich Little Poor Girl" about her childhood, and I sure wish I knew where her manuscript ended up.
During these past three months I've really just wanted to call Mom and tell her about my broken leg. I keep remembering different events, like when she flew down to L.A. in 1985 to nurse me back to health after a car accident, and about the time she visited me in Nashville in 1999. She was always tearful as she said goodbye at the airport, about the wonderful time she had. I realize that I inherited her tendency to cry easily, and her love for high drama, and I cherish both of these qualities.
I miss you, Mama. Did I tell you that I broke my leg 12 weeks ago today? You'd be so proud of my progress--I'm walking again!