A True Texas Girl… I was born and raised in Bertram, Texas. I married Donny Brown, and we lived in the Philippines for our first 2 years of marriage, then back to Texas in Austin, Georgetown and Riesel. We had two daughters together, Neissa and Shonna, who have now brought me 4 grandchildren.
I now live in Hewitt, a suburb of Waco, (HA!) and have lived here almost 11 years with my second husband, Joe. 1 ½ years ago, I retired from a career at Hillcrest Hospital.
I’m inspired by… Daddy and Mother. I regret I didn’t thank them enough when they were alive and would so love to be able to now.
My pet peeve… Negativism. It drives me crazy!
If I had had a different career… It would have been Home Economics Teacher.
Outside of being with the kids and grandkids, my perfect day would be… A very warm day that starts with exercising (sweat profusely) , working in the yard and with my plants (sweat profusely), sitting on the deck and watching the birds and listening to my wind chimes, going inside to eat, taking a shower, and then with the AC turned down to about 68, taking a long afternoon nap covered up with a throw!
Growing up a farmer’s daughter… Daddy was a farmer/rancher/carpenter. Mother was a homemaker. We were 3 girls and 1 boy: Benda, Sharon, Connie (my brother, and he despises the name!), and the baby ME!
We were extremely close and truly lived in a “bubble.” We raised chickens as part of the family income — the most chickens we raised at one time was 1,400!…and no, that isn’t a typo. We had our after-school and summertime chores of gathering, washing, grading and cartoning the eggs.
When my brother and I got “older” (probably 10 & 12), in the winter after school we would burn the stickers off prickly pear cactus for the cows to eat. In the summer we had hay, corn and maize to haul and put in the barn. I learned at an early age how to drive the standard pickup truck and tractor pull the trailer. Our garden provided food for canning, and our meat came from our own pigs, calves and chickens. We milked our own cows, drank the milk and made butter from it.
Mother was an excellent cook and seamstress, and she made all of our meals from scratch and sewed all our dresses. Our clothes were wrinkle-free when we wore them, and daddy’s and my brother’s jeans were starched stiff as a board. I learned carpenter skills from daddy. There was never buying a new appliance, as cords were repaired by mother. Major repair work, daddy did. I remember mother getting a wringer washer and how proud of it we were. Our clothes were line-dried, and in the winter we would hang wet clothes in front of the space heaters, and/or lay them in the oven.
We were in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday night. Our favorite time of day was eating “supper.” We never sat down to eat until at least 8:00 pm, and we ate as a family. After eating was our “visiting time,” and never did we get up quick from the table. We sat there sometimes until 9:30 visiting.
There was one bathroom for all 6 of us, that daddy added on when I was in the first grade. Since we had our own water well, we weren’t allowed to use but about 2 inches of water in the bathtub. Baths were quick, and while one of my sisters or I were bathing, the other one would come in and wash faces and brushed teeth.
The only vacation we ever had was going to Alpine and visiting my mother’s sisters. Neighbors that were chicken farmers would take care of our chickens for a few days, and we would return the favor. I remember one time I was about 12, Daddy wanted to take us to Inks Lake and spend the night. So we packed up our car and pickup, and Mother cooked all the food for us (including fried chicken). Plans were for us to get there mid-afternoon, spend the night, sleep in the back of the uncovered pickup on a pallet consisting of several blankets, a sheet and our pillows. We were so excited and thought we were in high cotton! Well, as luck would have it, early that night a thunderstorm came, drenched us and we ended up having to come home that night. We were of course disappointed, but accepted it as just one of those things that happens.
My Story… I shared so much about my upbringing because it is an integral part of who I am and how I overcame obstacles in my life. I was fortunate to have wonderful parents that taught us to (1) love the Lord; (2) love each other and be a family; (3) have integrity; (4) not covet our neighbor, and (5) have a great work ethic.
In Bertram there was little difference in family incomes. We had only what we needed, and our community was close-knit and truly cared about each other. I thought that was the way the entire world was.
Growing up, I never knew Mother and Daddy had arguments, and we as a family very seldom argued. If we had a problem, we talked it over, settled it and that was that. So when Donny and I had our first argument, I just knew we were headed to divorce court the next day.
Donny and I divorced after 15 years, and it was devastating. Our girls were 7 and 11 years old. Like I said….no one was supposed to even argue, much less divorce. I lived with a tremendous amount of guilt and failure, but my upbringing gave me strength. I knew I had two ways to go: either (1) running around and going to bars (which had never appealed to me, nor does it now), or (2) continue going to church and make sure that was a vital part of my children’s and my life.
The age difference Shonna and Neissa was good in that they never competed against each other, but it did mean that every night and weekend we were busy. Confirmation was 4 years long, therefore for 8 years, our Wednesday nights were taken up. Shonna’s basketball and football games were Friday night, Neissa’s were Monday and Thursday. Weekends were track meets, tournaments and church youth groups (which of course met at different times on Sunday afternoon). I had a little red Ford Escape — Margaret was her name — and she got us everywhere.
So many times I wouldn’t have the money to pay our electricity bill on time. On the cut-off date, I would leave the house at 6:30 am and get the payment to Marlin, come home and get the girls to school. (That was back when you could write a check and know it wouldn’t get to your bank for at least 2-3 days.) I made phone calls to utility companies and banks, begging for a few more days.
A particularly challenging Christmas… The houses in Riesel we lived in were always COLD in the winter and HOT in the summer. From living on a farm, I knew to leave the faucets dripping at night to keep the pipes from freezing. But it seemed no matter how careful I was, it always froze. I remember one Christmas it froze on either the 23rd or 24th…
On Christmas afternoon, we were taking our naps, (a true Watson tradition) and I woke up to a spewing. The water had unfrozen and the pipes had burst. Ice cold water was everywhere. I went outside, turned it off and started mopping it up. I always wrapped my outside pipes and prayed they wouldn’t freeze… but they did just a couple of times. But I knew how to do that because I had seen and helped Daddy do it many times.
One winter night it was icing outside — I had bought plastic to put on the outside of our windows to protect from the north wind. I went outside after the girls went to bed and nailed the plastic to the windows. The wind was blowing hard and it was literally freezing. As I was coming back in the house, the sidewalk had frozen and I slipped and fell flat on my back, my head missing the corner of the step about an inch. Scared me to death, but nothing was broken, so I got up and went back inside.
How did I make it? My faith and my parents!