She came, she saw, she conquered.
Ninety-eight-year-old Mozelle Richardson, my mother, was the guest of Suzi and Newton Warzecha for the Goliad Massacre Reenactment. She was born in Hereford, Texas, in 1914 and has been an avid defender of all things Texas for 98 years.
Mom is a whiz on Texas history, beginning with the first book she ever read at 7 years old, The History of Texas. In fact, I told Newton he might just have met his match.
Attending the reenactment has been a dream of hers. Suzi Warzecha and I have been friends for almost 40 years. I have attended three massacres. Let me rephrase that. I have attended three reenactments of massacres. They all made a lasting impression on me, and I would relate these experiences to my mother.
I think she felt that it really wasn’t fair that I was attending them since I wasn’t even born in Texas.
And then the middle of March, the phone rang.
“Susie, I have a terrific idea! Why don’t you bring your mom to this year’s reenactment?”
She explained the living arrangements and then added, “And I will be her personal elevator operator.”
I’ve seen this elevator lurking in the back of their home. And I had my doubts about it. It was a hand-operated wooden contraption laden with ropes, pulleys and chains and sported a huge multicolored painting of Dr. Seuss’s Cat In the Hat as a backdrop.
Was this a joke? Did I really want to subject my dear mother to this devious-appearing mechanism? I acquiesced, as I trusted Suzi.
I called Mom, not sure if she would feel up to going. On the contrary, she heartily accepted. She’d love to go ... with a few caveats. We had to take her car. (Yes, she still drives.) “Because,” she explained, “I want to take my scooter.”
Her scooter is mounted on the back of her car. I agreed, but I had my own caveat - I would drive.
We arrived at the Warzechas on Thursday evening after a two-day drive from Santa Fe. Suzi guided Mom and me onto the elevator. I held my breath as Suzi, amid extensive creaking and squeaking, pulled and tugged and before long we had ascended to the second floor. This thing really worked! Mom was enthralled and exclaimed to Suzi, “I have never done anything like that in my life!”
To which Suzi replied, “Mrs. Richardson, you have no idea how thrilled I am to have provided a 98-year-old woman with a new experience.”
To which Mom replied, “Suzi, please call me Mozelle.”
And the rest is history.
Mom was enchanted with Suzi’s home. She especially noticed a large concrete paving stone in the shape of Texas with the word Texas embossed on it. The first evening, Mom sat on Suzi’s and Newton’s balcony in a rocking chair, sipping a pomegranate lemonade, admiring the beautifully lighted courthouse as it chimed it’s soothing melodies, a cool breeze wafting.
She was a one happy lady.
Friday morning, we headed for the presidio. I wanted her to have a chance to get a firsthand look before the crowds the next day. I had never seen the scooter trailer in action, but I was most impressed. She lowered the trailer, rode the scooter off the trailer, went back to the trailer platform, raised it, got back on her scooter and was ready to explore Presidio La Bahia.
I should’ve expected nothing less of the woman who graduated from University of Oklahoma at age 90.
She carefully read and examined the artifacts in the display cabinets in the museum. She then scooted out to the presidio courtyard, camera at the ready. Tents, horses, wagons and reenactors were just beginning to set up. She watched two men in period dress digging a fire pit. She spoke to several people on horseback, asking them all sorts of questions, was fascinated and, of course, had them pose for photos.
The next morning, Saturday, we returned to the presidio, ready for some battle action and repeated the trailer unloading. When I thought I would lower it myself to help her out, she said, “Damnit! I want to do it.”
OK Mom, you’re the boss.
We watched as the Mexicans fought the Texians. Cannons boomed, horses charged, Mencel (and then, thankfully, were resurrected), drummers drums and captors were marched away. I have to admit, it was most exciting. They had some 350 reenactors, many more than when I had last seen it, 10 years ago.
She wanted to hear Newton’s lecture in the chapel. After the lecture, Mom scooted up the cannon ramp on the chapel grounds. She asked me to take a photo of her with the cannon. Then she was quiet, not saying a word. Just looked out at the view and back at the chapel, probably imagining what was happening on this very spot on Palm Sunday, 1836, 176 years ago.
Mom had decided not to do the Sunday morning death march. Newton had discouraged it, and since Newton had become Mom’s new beau, Mom begrudgingly concurred until she saw the Texians blissfully heading off into the forest, with the Mexicans marching behind them. And she was off, scooting furiously to catch up to them.
I did my best to keep up ... that scooter is fast. I likened her version of the death march to four- wheeling in a scooter. She bumped over gravel and dirt roads, through mud and even through an untouched, at least until then, luxuriant field of wildflowers.
She then watched as the Texians, thinking they were going home, were mowed down by the Mexican soldiers. Very sad, actually. As the Mexicans were marching back, having done their dastardly deed, two of them came over to Mom. One handed her his rifle and then they posed behind her for a photo. A smile as big as Texas graced her beautiful face. And I think I heard her say, “Those Mexicans weren’t so bad.”
Monday morning, it was time to bid adieu to Goliad. As we backed out of her drive, Suzi came running out to the car carrying a package. It was a gift for Mom - the large concrete Texas paving stone which now sits grandly on her Santa Fe patio.