Teresa Saunders

Teresa Saunders is pictured with her mother, Bonnie Jean Gomez.

Courtesy photo

Editor’s Note: In honor of Mother’s Day today, Lampasas resident Teresa Saunders submitted this column honoring her mother, Bonnie Jean Gomez, who was raised in Killeen and graduated from Killeen High School. Saunders has been published in the Herald previously, with an article about her father, who was also raised in Killeen.

She will be 80 years old in the fall ... her wrinkled, age-spotted hands tell the story of many years working as hard as any man.

If passing by her house in the summer, you will see her outside weed-eating around the trees and yard decorations. Her eyes sparkle when she looks at her husband, or sees a new flower blooming. She is my Mother, and I love her....

Momma and Daddy’s love story is rare, and so special. When she first saw him, she was 13, and he was 16. They used to hunt horned toads together after school. Later, Mom became the head majorette at Killeen High School. Daddy would follow the band bus to the football games to watch her twirl.

After Daddy’s graduation in 1954, they snuck over to the Belton courthouse and got married. He left for Air Force basic training soon after. For 20 years, they traveled, and in the process my older sister, brother, myself, and two younger brothers came along.

As long as I can remember, I’ve loved horses. I begged my parents for my own horse from the time I could talk. I remember clearly on my fourth birthday, Momma baked me a horse cake. It had coconut for its mane and tail, and lifesavers for spots. I wished to not cut that cake before blowing out the candles. It was so beautiful and special to me. I just knew I would soon get a real horse.

Three years later, two baby brothers, but still no horse. Eventually though, Dad retired from the Air Force and we all moved back to Killeen, and started working on our home place off of Reese Creek Road. I finally got my horse at age 14. I immediately joined the local riding club, and every summer, I was up at the Killeen rodeo arena each Saturday riding horses.

Momma didn’t just drop me off and pick me up. She loaded up my brothers and stayed there with me, of course. Sometimes, we were there until the wee hours of Sunday morning. A few hours later, clean and wearing our Sunday best, Momma would march us into church. It did not matter if we were out all hours; she made sure we still went to church.

After some bad decisions and a couple of failed marriages in my early 20s, my mother was still my rock. I was a single mother of two young children. Even working two jobs, I wasn’t making enough to pay for child care, so momma quit her job to take care of my babies while I worked.

Although I was poor, my love for my horses did not waver. Momma taught me the value of a dollar and helped me budget my income and save so I wouldn’t have to give them up.

There were times I did not think I could carry the load. Momma would assure me that I could do it. If not for her support and encouragement during those hard times, I would not be the person I am today.

I hope and pray my children and grandchildren realize how much I love them ... and I know for sure, if I’m even half the mother and grandmother my mom was, is, and continues to be, I’ve done a good job.

As I go about my daily chores, I look down at my wrinkled, age-spotted hands and smile. I see the hands of my mother, Bonnie Jean Gomez.

What an honor to be her daughter.

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