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By Don Kindred
She was born on May Day, 1934, with a face as fresh as a flower. She had big brown eyes, deep dimples and a smile that lit up rooms for almost 80 years.
She was a southern woman, which meant there was no problem she couldn’t fix, no person she couldn’t talk to, and no occasion she didn’t have the right shoes for. She was born to a 15-year-old bride in a small-town in Missouri.
Her parents were Dolly and Ray Bird. They named her Loeta. Some said it was Choctaw for “little bird.” I never checked, but it made sense.
She helped raise a younger brother she knew as Buddy and a baby sister she called Tweet. Her father moved the family to a little town outside of Houston, Texas and got a job for Armco Steel. Loeta would grow up to marry her high school sweetheart, Aubrey Kindred, and have two sons. They named them simply John and Don. Her sons became the singular focus of her life.
Loeta always worked, she was a secretary, a proud one. Her corporate resumé was impressive; Prudential, Revlon, Boeing, Mattel, JC Penny, IBM, even NASA, but work was only where she made her living (and typed homework). Her days started when she got hometo pick up her sons from school, shuffling them off to Little League baseball, Pop Warner football, Boy’s Club basketball, whatever was in season. Between those she managed to get them to Indian Guides and Boy Scouts. They took archery and accordian lessons, and they learned to scuba dive and shoot rifles. She had this theory that active kids needed to be kept busy or they would get into trouble. They got into trouble anyway.
In 1975 she married a retired Navy man named TR Malcolm and they became devoted and inseparable. The combined family had four sons of similar age who would all get married and have grandchildren. She had nine, and she was there when each was born.
They called her Nana.
Retiring with TR she traveled the country in a motor home before settling in Warsaw, IN. She took a part-time job for the Mayor, obtained mostly on her personality and notorius quick wit. She could make an IBM Selectric sing, but the computer wasn’t really her thing.
She loved Easter. Christmas would get crazy with separate family plans, but Easter was all hers, complete with games and crafts and everyone bringing something to eat and some love to share.
She loved pictures, and she never threw one away. As it turns out she never threw anything away, and it will take years to go through her things. Every letter, every card, every old football jersey was important to her.
Before she passed, she enjoyed the privilege of holding both of her great grandchildren, one who was born only two months before,and being surrounded by close family and friends.
They called her Loeta, I called her Mom.