Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, Part I


Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, has been an enigma.

Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Emmett's grandfather.

Augustus Emmett Maxwell, Emmett’s grandfather.

Of all the women in Emmett’s life, it is clear that Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson had the most impact. But ironically, it has been hard to find anything out about her.

For almost three years, I hadn’t found much other than she was the daughter of an important judge from Florida; her mother was from an important family in Virginia; she was the wife of an important doctor in Washington County, Florida. There had to be more to Elizabeth than the fact that she was (as many women were back in the day) an adjunct; i.e., someone else’s wife or daughter.

This changed in January, when I met Elizabeth’s great-granddaughter (and namesake), in Charlottesville. I was there to learn more about the relationship between Emmett and his sister Katie Wilson Meade, who was one of Emmett’s closest siblings. Katie died in the 1960’s; today, her daughter Elizabeth, is the keeper of Katie Wilson Meade’s family records.

During our visit, I spent several hours with Elizabeth going through scrapbooks, looking through documents, photographing and documenting everything, when I came across a letter, dated February 4, 1865.

The handwriting was spindly and blotted, hard to read, but decipherable. The paper was thin and fragile. Initially, I didn’t think it was important, because I didn’t recognize any of the names in it. But on the last page, was this:

A letter from Emmett's mother to her stepmother, Julia Hawkes Maxwell.

A letter from Emmett’s mother to her stepmother, Julia Hawkes Maxwell. Bingo!

I gasped when I saw the signature. Elizabeth looked at me and asked if I was OK. More than OK, I said; I was overjoyed! I found a letter written by Katie and Emmett’s mother! I hadn’t expected to find anything about Emmett’s mother on the trip to Charlottesville, and this was gold!.

From the letter, I learned that Elizabeth was very close to her stepmother, Julia.

Julia Anderson Hawkes married into the Maxwell family three years after the death of Augustus Emmett Maxwell’s first wife, Sarah. (When Sarah died, she left Maxwell with three children: Lucy, age 5; Elizabeth, 4; and Simeon, three months.)

According to family sources, Augustus Emmett Maxwell had found love again after Sarah’s death. Julia was, by all reports, a kind, intelligent, loving young woman who took the three Maxwell children immediately under her wing. Elizabeth and her siblings cherished the relationship they had with Julia, and it was mutual.

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson, about 1895.

It is important to note the relationship Maxwell had with his second wife, and the impact on his children, because it is quite different from the relationship Emmett had with his stepmother, Kate Langley Jordan, who came into the Wilson family 18 months after Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson died.

Had Dr. Wilson and Kate Langley Jordan married the second time for love, it might have made a difference for Emmett, and the way he interacted with women later in life. But that’s an essay for another day.


Back to Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson.

Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson. This photo was taken at about the time the letter was written.

Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson, about 1865.

When the above letter was written to Julia, Elizabeth was 19 years old, a young woman; but, the language of the letter strikes me as that of a young girl. She mentions several times that she misses Julia, and wishes she could see Julia. The letter is a little gossipy, a little frivolous. This is not a serious letter; rather, it is one that a daughter would send to a mother, just to let her know what was going on with her while she was away visiting friends. But it is clear in the text of the letter that Elizabeth is a treasured, precious daughter to Julia and Augustus Emmett Maxwell. She refers to Maxwell as ‘her dear, beloved Father,’ and he is an attentive, caring parent, always interested in all of his children’s well being. This was poignant, touching to read; I’ve long suspected that was the relationship between Elizabeth and her father, but it was wonderfully affirming to read about it in Elizabeth’s own handwriting.

The date of the letter is interesting; it is written almost exactly one year before she marries Dr. Francis C. Wilson, and there is no mention of him in the letter he’s not mentioned. But, another fellow is: someone named “Duncan.”  Elizabeth wanted her stepmother to ask him why he hadn’t written her back yet!

At this point, though, it is possible that Dr. Wilson was in the picture, but he hadn’t won Elizabeth’s hand yet. Elizabeth and her family had a home near Oakfield Plantation, about six miles north of Pensacola in the 1860s, and Dr. Wilson was in the middle of his three-year apprenticeship with an established physician in Pensacola. (Dr. Wilson had started his medical school studies in 1860, but left to join the Confederate Army when the Civil War broke out. When the war was over, there was no money for him to go back to medical school, so he took the next acceptable route, which was to study under an established physician for three years; then, Dr. Wilson would have his ‘credential’ — nothing more than a signed letter by the established physician — that Dr. Wilson was competent to practice medicine.)

The Maxwell and the Wilson families were not strangers to each other. In the 1840s, after Augustus Emmett Maxwell married his first wife Sarah, they moved to Mt. Hebron, Green County, Alabama to set up his first law practice — and Mt. Hebron was the location of the Wilson family plantation.

Maxwell did not stay long in Alabama; he and his family moved to Tallahassee in 1845, just before Elizabeth was born. So, Dr. Wilson and Elizabeth would not have been childhood sweethearts, but, Dr. Wilson would have been familiar to Augustus Emmett Maxwell later, when he would come to call on Elizabeth as a suitor.

I’ll have more on Elizabeth in a day or so. Stay tuned!


Recipient Most Likely


The quest to locate the Wilson family Bible continues. Here’s what I’ve determined so far:

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson

Emmett’s father, Dr. F.C. Wilson, remarried about 18 months after the death of wife Elizabeth Maxwell Wilson. The new mizzus, Kate Langley Jordan Wilson entered the scene. She was a decent person; had no desire to erase the memory of the first Mrs. Wilson, but, clearly, she was now the family matriarch. She had her own family Bible, which she would want on display in the parlor.

The Wilson family Bible, which Elizabeth was the keeper of, was not discarded, but given to one of the older children, who would hold it dear, appreciate it for what it was — a treasured family relic.

Family records were kept in this book; it was also precious from a legal standpoint, as birth certificates were not necessarily issued by states, nor kept on a regular basis, until after the turn of the century. One example from as recently as the 1940s, was when Katie Wilson Meade took her family Bible to obtain a delayed birth certificate for son Everard Wilson Meade, so that he could join the Navy in World War II.

Everard's delayed birth certificate. If you look midway in the document, there's reference to a family Bible as proof of his birth. Source: Ancestry.com

Everard’s delayed birth certificate. If you look midway in the document, there’s reference to a family Bible as proof of his birth. Source: Ancestry.com

When Elizabeth died in 1891, there were several young children in the house. They would not have been given this precious relic. So, that would have eliminated Walker (six years old); Emmett and Julian (eight years old); Katie (12 years old). I’ve confirmed this with family descendants from these four Wilson children.

Turning now to the older children, here’s what I’ve determined, based on research to date:

  • Eudora, the oldest daughter: Dora was 16 when her mother died, and in my view, she would have been an obvious choice to be given her Mother’s Bible, had there not been older siblings already married and settled down. Dora’s grandson has shared with me that while Dora did not receive the Wilson Bible, she did receive the Maxwell Bible. This makes sense: Elizabeth would have been given her family’s Bible by her father, Augustus Emmett Maxwell. Perhaps Dora was given a choice: The Wilson Bible or the Maxwell Bible, and she knew that her mother held the Maxwell Bible especially dear.
  • Maxwell, the oldest son: When Elizabeth died, Max was part of a traveling band, on the road a lot, and generally considered unsettled. He was not yet married. It seems unlikely this precious book would be in his possession.
  • Cephas, the second son: In 1891, Cephas was still living at home but working with W.O. Butler as his law clerk and apprentice. In 1893, eighteen months later, Cephas was a newly minted lawyer establishing a practice in Marianna. He also married Lula May Wiselogel in 1893, three months before Dr. Wilson married Kate Langley Jordan Wilson. Although I have not been able to prove it yet (because I have not located any of Ceph’s descendants yet), it makes absolute sense (to me) that Dr. Wilson would have given the Wilson family Bible to Cephas as a wedding gift, and, symbolically, as a way of carrying on the Wilson family standard.
  • Percy, the third son: When Dr. Wilson remarried, Percy was in transition — he was an apprentice with a local physician, and, preparing to go away to medical school in Mobile. Percy was an unmarried teenager at this time, too. It seems unlikely that Percy would have been given the Wilson family Bible.

The next two sons in the family, Meade and Frank Jr., were teenagers, unmarried, and living at the Wilson home when Dr. Wilson remarried. They were also working with the Louisville & Nashville railroad in various capacities (luggage manager, conductor, and the like). Neither of these boys were home consistently, as they were assigned to different depots along the railroad line now and then. It would seem that Frank Jr., as Dr. Wilson’s namesake, would be the obvious next candidate to have been given the Wilson family Bible, but the timing was off.

It’s true that Frank Jr. could have been given the Wilson family Bible later, after he settled down, married, and had his own family. But, I’ve been in contact with Frank Jr.’s descendants, and they don’t have the Bible.

One other clue that makes me think that Cephas received the Wilson family Bible was a notation I found in Katie Wilson Meade’s correspondence on the recent trip to Charlottesville:

Katie mentioned in a document from the 1930s that she copied a list of the births, marriages, and deaths recorded verbatim from the Wilson family Bible, and she stated that directly on the list. So, Katie did not have the actual Bible. Katie’s granddaughter confirmed that with me.

Katie was in close, regular contact with a few of her siblings and their spouses at that point, though: Frank Jr., Julian, and Lula Wiselogel Wilson, the widow of Cephas. Based on communication I saw between Lula, Cephas, and Katie Wilson Meade while I was in Charlottesville, I believe that Cephas was the recipient of his mother’s Bible.


Now, to track down Ceph’s descendants! Wish me luck!

Studying Stones


Today, I went through some of the photos I took at Glenwood Cemetery in Chipley, Florida, where I visited Emmett’s parents, Dr. Francis C. Wilson, and Elizabeth V. Wilson.

Emmett's father, Dr. F.C. Wilson

Emmett’s father, Dr. F.C. Wilson

Emmett's mother, Elizabeth V. Wilson.

Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth V. Wilson.

I took these two photos the last time I was in Chipley; I didn’t have a lot of time that day to hang out and study them, so I made a point to study the stones closely on my second trip.

I don’t have a lot of personal information about Emmett’s father or mother, so whatever I can glean from the cemetery is important. The headstones don’t just mark a plot; they can give you clues about the person.

This time, I took a lot of photos of the headstones and burial plots, and I took along my friend, sister and Chipley resident Pam. She knows the cemetery well, and it was helpful to hear her take on the Wilson’s markers as we walked through the cemetery together.

First, the two stones together.

There’s almost 30 years difference between the two burials. The stones are similar in height and style. Dr. Wilson had remarried almost two years after the death of his first wife, Elizabeth; his headstone was selected by the second wife, Kate Langley Jordan Wilson. It’s interesting that she kept the style fairly close to that of the first wife’s stone.

Or not. It’s possible that Dr. Wilson, in his final days, asked to have a stone like his wife’s. Or, maybe the grown Wilson children weighed in on this. But honestly, I don’t think so. Kate Langley Jordan Wilson was a strong woman and did what she always felt was the right thing. I think Kate picked this out of respect and honor to her husband: She knew that Dr. Wilson loved his first wife dearly. While Kate and Dr. Wilson had a good marriage, he never really got over Elizabeth (like Kate never got over her first husband either — but that’s a story for another post).

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson. Photo by Alton & Loudonia, 2012. Source: Find-a-grave.com

Kate Langley Jordan Wilson. Photo by Alton & Loudonia, 2012. Source: Find-a-grave.com

Kate isn’t buried next to Dr. Wilson, by the way. She’s buried next to her daughter, in a separate plot quite a distance away in the cemetery. (There is also 30 years’ difference between Dr. Wilson’s death and Kate’s death. Kate’s daughter, John, took charge of the estate and Kate’s funeral, for the record.)

Let’s take a close look at the carvings on the Wilson stones. I took several shots of what was carved into the markers. Both markers have interesting designs on all four sides. I’ll start with Elizabeth’s.

The front of Elizabeth's stone is quite weathered, but you can see the outline of three flowers: An Easter lily, a calla lily, and a rose. The rose is a full bloom.

The front of Elizabeth’s stone is quite weathered, but you can see the outline of three flowers: An Easter lily, a calla lily, and a rose. The rose is a full bloom, no broken stem. The three stems are intertwined; the leaves at the bottom look like they are from lilies.

Here’s the back of Elizabeth’s stone.

It's a better image of the carving on this stone. The rest of the back of Elizabeth's stone is smooth. No additional words.

It’s a better image of the carving on this stone. The rest of the back of Elizabeth’s stone is smooth. No additional words.

Several different sources report that the calla lily was used on headstones to symbolize marriage; also, resurrection. The Easter lily was a symbol of purity, virtue; also, resurrection. The rose in full bloom was a symbol of eternal love; also, someone who died in the prime of life — which is what happened to Elizabeth.

There is the same carving on the north and south sides of this stone:

An unusual plant on Elizabeth's stone.

An unusual plant on Elizabeth’s stone.

Here’s another photo of the carving on Elizabeth’s stone, with contrast added:


I can’t figure out what kind of plant that is. It looks like a kind-of lily if you look at the top of the plant. If this is an entire lily plant, several sources report that it represents resurrection. Elizabeth was a much-beloved member of this family; this would be a loving touch to her memorial.

Here’s the base of her stone:

Note the diamond pattern above the sentiment.

Note the diamond pattern above the sentiment.

I love this sentiment; I can imagine the family selecting this for their mother, and I really believe they thought this about Elizabeth. However, I saw this exact same sentiment carved on the stone of another woman in the cemetery (the deceased wife of a sheriff). I think the stone mason probably showed the family a variety of different sentiments that would be appropriate for their beloved wife and mother, and they picked this one. I admit that I was a little saddened to find the exact same saying on another stone in the cemetery, and to think this wasn’t original to Elizabeth.

There is a foot stone on Elizabeth’s grave:

We had to feel the initials on the stone, the letters are rather worn down.

We had to feel the initials on the stone, the letters are rather worn down.

Pam noted that Elizabeth must have been a small woman. The distance between the headstone and the footstone is a little over five feet. Emmett and his brothers were tall (six feet tall on average); they clearly got their height from their father.

Now, we turn to Dr. Wilson’s stone:

Dr. Wilson's stone is the same height as Elizabeth's. It is different in that his last name is prominent. Also, note the brass service plate at the bottom.

Dr. Wilson’s stone is the same height as Elizabeth’s. It is different in that his last name is prominent. Also, note the brass service plate at the bottom.

One of the first things that struck me about Dr. Wilson’s stone is that the brass plate appears to have been edited. On the left side, second line, the abbreviation “PVT” has been removed.

Someone's doctored the Doctor's brass marker.

Someone’s doctored the Doctor’s brass marker.

His rank during the Civil War was, officially, private, though he later had a field promotion to an officer’s rank at Appomattox, at the very end of the war (which might not have been considered an official promotion). I wonder who had the brass lettering removed — perhaps Kate?

Take a look at the carving at the top of the stone:

“Saviour” — the English spelling of savior. This was, perhaps, a nod to the fact Dr. Wilson was a practicing Episcopalian.

Note also the cross-and-crown engraving at the top of the stone, symbols of victory and Christianity.

I think it significant that this is on Dr. Wilson’s stone. There wasn’t an established Episcopal parish in Chipley until around 1920. I spoke with the local pastor several months ago, who told me that Episcopalians living in Chipley back in the day either would have had to travel to attend services in Marianna (at St. Luke’s) or Geneva, or Dothan, Alabama.

Both Dr. Wilson and Elizabeth were practicing Episcopalians. If Dr. Wilson and Elizabeth Wilson were devout, it must have been hard to be physically separated from the actual practice of their faith. Perhaps the Wilsons did their own “Sunday school” at home on occasion, but that’s not the same thing as receiving the sacrament each Sunday.

As I thought about this, I drew a conclusion that Kate, who was a staunch Baptist, apparently respected Dr. Wilson’s faith; she didn’t try to ‘make him over’ as some people may do when they marry into a family. I think this is quite telling about the person Kate was, and the regard she held for the family she married into.

On the north and south sides of Dr. Wilson's headstone. It looks like ivy, or perhaps, dogwood.

On the north and south sides of Dr. Wilson’s headstone. It looks like ivy, or perhaps, dogwood.

This one is hard to figure out. The plant looks more like a type of tree branch (which is why I thought ‘dogwood’ first), but the plant looks shamrock-ish. Perhaps clover? If so, it would be a nod to Dr. Wilson’s Irish heritage.

At the base of Dr. Wilson’s grave are two markers:

“Dr. FCW”, positioned at least six feet away from the headstone. He was a tall man.

And this one:

In brass, the years 1861 and 1865. This is right below the footstone with his initials.

In brass, the years 1861 and 1865. This is right below the footstone with his initials.

So, that’s what I have from the second trip to Glenwood Cemetery.

Honoring Mother, Mom, and Mamaw


I often wonder about the relationship Emmett had with his mother: Was it formal or relaxed? Was it “Mother” or “Mom?”

Elizabeth Virginia Wilson, at Glenwood Cemetery, Chipley, Florida. Source: Find-a-grave.com

Elizabeth Virginia Wilson, at Glenwood Cemetery, Chipley, Florida. Source: Find-a-grave.com

At this point, even after two years of research into Emmett’s life, I still don’t know much about Emmett’s mother, Elizabeth Virginia Maxwell Wilson. I’m still looking for family records, church records, or anything else about her. I’d love to find a photograph of her.

Elizabeth’s name was not in the newspapers as much as her more public sons, Emmett and Cephas; or her congressman-father, Augustus Emmett Maxwell; or her prominent physician husband, Dr. F.C. Wilson. During Victorian times, there was an unwritten rule for women of Elizabeth’s social standing with regard to her name appearing in print: Only with regard to her wedding, and only with regard to her funeral. Additional publicity was considered uncouth.

The inscription at the base of Elizabeth's tombstone.

The inscription at the base of Elizabeth’s tombstone.

But, I get a strong impression that Emmett and his mother were close; that perhaps, he was the apple of her eye.

I have a photo of Emmett as a child. In that photo, he is standing left of his youngest brother, Walker. Emmett’s twin, Julian is on the other side of Walker. On the reverse of the photo is a message, written in Elizabeth’s hand. The photo was taken in December, 1890, and several copies of the photo were made for keepsakes (I’ve seen more than one copy of this particular photo; Emmett’s niece Jule has two actual copies from 1890). The message reads: “Happy New Year. A New Year Card for Grandma from Emmett, Julian, Walker. 1891.”

Emmett in a fancy bow tie, courtesy of Elizabeth Wilson.

Emmett in a fancy bow tie, courtesy of Elizabeth Wilson.

The boys are dressed up; hair carefully combed. Emmett has a really fancy bow necktie. It is big and flouncy. I’m sure Emmett didn’t tie that bow himself; I can see Elizabeth carefully adjusting Emmett’s tie under the stiff collar he had to endure, tying a neat bow, and adjusting it just so under his chin. The loving touch of Emmett’s mother.

Call it a stretch, but in just looking at Emmett’s fancy bow tie, put into place just so by his mother, I sense that Emmett and Elizabeth had a close relationship. Even though it wasn’t a stiff, formal relationship, I don’t really see him calling her “Mom.” It seems more likely he called her “Mother.”

I wish I knew more about Elizabeth.

Mom, 1962. This was her engagement photo.

Mom, 1962. This was her engagement photo.

I called my mother “Mom.” We had a complicated relationship; we were not close. I wish we had been closer; but to be honest, we had completely different temperaments.

Mom was a fine lady; she was a good person and a generous, compassionate friend. I did love my mom; I know she loved me. But we did not like each other. I remember trying often to forge a closer relationship to my mom, but it felt phony and forced.

I often wished our relationship was otherwise, but sometimes, even in close family relationships, the chemistry just isn’t there, and no one can help it. I didn’t find this out until a few years in sobriety; I wish I had known it sooner. I think I would not have psychologically beat myself up so much over the lack of relationship with my mom.

Once, after my mom had been drinking a lot, she called me and tried to discuss the odd relationship she and I had. But she was so blurry and incoherent on the phone, I told her that I’d talk to her later after she sobered up, and hung up on her. Mom then called my sister, who lives on the opposite side of the country, and complained how I once again sabotaged her attempts to build a relationship with me.

Unfortunately, the only times mom really tried to talk with me about our relationship were times when she drank heavily. She never once sat down to talk with me about our relationship, either in person or on the phone, without booze involved. I guess mom felt like she had drink to face the reality of the relationship we had.

My mom and I had different interests: She was an artist. I hated art. I loved to write. She hated writing.

My mother was a lot closer to my sister, who is a professional artist. They always seemed to have a lot more to talk about. They always seemed to ‘get’ each other, and I grew up feeling a tad like an outsider in my own family. I always used to suppose it was because I was an air sign (Aquarius) and they were earth signs (Taurus and Virgo). Air + Earth = Tornadoes.

The interesting dynamic in my family was that my mom and her mom (my grandmother) were also not close at all — but Mamaw (that’s what I called her) and I were really close. Mamaw and I were also both Aquariuses (our birthdays only 55 years and six days apart).

Me with my grandmother about 15 years ago. I was telling her this really dirty joke, and she was laughing so hard the swing started to crack. She died not long after this photo was taken. I miss her terribly.

Me with my grandmother about 15 years ago. I was telling her this really dirty joke (she enjoyed a good dirty joke), and she was laughing so hard the swing started to crack. She died not long after this photo was taken. I miss her terribly.

I could talk to Mamaw about anything, and she’d never judge me. She’d just listen. We knew how to talk to each other, and even we were decades apart in age, we really connected well. I loved and respected Mamaw; I was also a little afraid of her, because she would say it like it was, whether I wanted to hear it or not.

Once, she said to me, “I know you and your mom aren’t getting along too well. Sometimes, even in families, people don’t connect well. Try to accept it for what it is; don’t beat yourself up over what you can’t help.”

I said to her that I thought mom and me just didn’t connect well, and I was tired of trying. And Mamaw said, “Well, one day you’re going to be a parent. You might have a similar situation with your daughter. Just remember what this was like with your mother; take what you can from it.”

Mamaw at the IRS, about 1942. You didn't mess with her, or she'd audit your ass.

Mamaw at the IRS, about 1942. You didn’t mess with her, or she’d audit your ass.

My grandmother was a smart lady. She was the first female IRS auditor in the Jackson, Mississippi office, and she eventually was in charge of that office; she retired in 1965.

She was tough, too. My grandfather (her husband) was a big-time alcoholic. Mamaw loved him, but she would not tolerate his bad behavior, and threw him out more than once. Interestingly, Mamaw was the only adult in my immediate family (parents, both sets of grandparents) who did not drink AT ALL. I wonder how she put up with all of us as she did.

Eventually, my grandfather stopped drinking on his own, sans AA. I don’t know how he did it on his own without the program; living with Mamaw probably had something to do with it. She inspired strong character.

My grandparents were married almost 60 years. “Tough love,” she used to call it. “The reality of being married is that it is not all a bed of roses,” she said. “Don’t forget that.”

It is Mother’s Day weekend, and my mom has been gone almost six years. I didn’t think I’d miss her, because of the lack of closeness all these years, but I do.

With the passage of time, I certainly understand my mom a lot better:

She worked full time and my dad worked full time, but he was mostly away in another town, always working on some big construction contract. He traveled a lot in those days for his job, so, mom was single-parenting my sister and me for months at a time. She would come home, exhausted from her job (which was at a law firm and highly stressful), and just want to relax and have a drink. That’s mostly what she did after work for years. Both my parents were high-functioning alcoholics; that’s how they dealt with stress.

That was how their parents dealt with stress. It was just a ‘tradition,’ handed down, so to speak. Of course, I did not see this while I was growing up. At the time, I only saw that my mom and I didn’t ‘get’ each other, and after 7 pm (when my parents were already deep in their cups), a normal conversation with them was impossible. They’d be out of it already.

If my mom didn’t drink at all, it might not have made any big difference in our compatibility. But I think, perhaps, if booze was out of the equation, at least we could have discussed our dysfunctional relationship with clarity, perhaps reaching some understanding and better appreciation of the differences between us.

Two weeks before my mom died of cancer in 2009, I wrote my mom a long, heartfelt letter, expressing my sadness that we were not as close as I’d had hoped over the years, and asking her forgiveness and understanding for my part in making our relationship less than what she’d have hoped for.

I had to write that to her; I was nine months pregnant and unable to travel to her bedside. Also, at that point, cancer had spread to her vocal cords and she was unable to speak. My sister told me she did get the letter, and she read it.

I don’t know what my mom’s reaction was to it. She shooed everyone out of the room while she read it.

I get the feeling that things were made better between us at that moment.