One of my mom’s favorite characters in real life and song is Molly Brown. Yes, the Molly Brown who became famous after captaining a lifeboat when the Titanic went down into in 1912.
Like mom, Molly Brown was born in America, actually Hannibal, Mo., of immigrant parents. Molly moved to Leadville, Colo., at age 18. I think mom, born in Whiting, Ind., figured that she should go west too.
Jane might or might not have known much about Molly Brown in her early years, but she became inspired by the song “I Ain’t Down Yet” from the stage play Unsinkable Molly Brown, and often belted out the tune, at one point nearly 40 years ago creating a skit for a local variety show and reveling in the lyrics of “I Ain’t Down Yet,” words that at it age 90 still inspire her.
I’m goan’ to learn to read and write
I’m goan’ to see what there is to see
So if you go to nowhere
On the road to somewhere
And you meet anyone
You know it’s me
I’m goan’ to move
From place to place
To find a house
With a golden stair
And if that house is red
And has a big brass bed
I’m livin’ there
Although fascinated by images of the desert and the American West, Jane married early and children soon came along. I well remember her campaign to travel west, first on vacation and later to achieve her dream of living in a warmer and more congenial climate. Born a free spirit, after several false starts indomitable Jane took us west, and, after many physical and psychological setbacks Anaheim became our home.
“Momma” Jane continues to love singing and the arts and considers that performance of “I Ain’t Down Yet” to be a high point of her life, not to mention, her anthem.
Jane never got her red house with the golden stair, and lives now near my sister in northern California, still hoping to visit Tahoe as spring approaches. Although her eyesight is failing, her insight remains strong. As her memory continues to fade she seems to be taking more pride and a life well lived. She is the last one standing from her family of six and her husband is gone, but her children and grandchildren have adopted her indomitable spirit as we make our way in the world.
Mom is certainly not down yet.