Norma Jean (Mathews) Hodge
February 3, 1934 – November 4, 2018
Norma Jean Hodge 84, passed away on November 4, 2018 in a Dallas hospital. Norma was born on February 3, 1934 in Gladewater, TX to Claude Frank Mathews and Vergie Ann Booth Mathews.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 40 years, Franklin Legree Hodge; 3 sisters and 1 brother. Survivors include her son, Michael Lynn Hodge and his wife, Mary Lee Hodge; grandson, Brian Lee Hodge and his wife, Kobrie Ann Hodge; great granddaughter, Emma Elizabeth Hodge; most special friend of 20 years, Roger Crego; other family members and a host of friends.
Visitation will be from 10:00 - 11:00 am Saturday, November 9, 2018 at Moore Funeral Home, 1219 N Davis Dr., Arlington, TX 76012 Graveside services 3:30 pm Saturday, November 9, 2018 at Eureka Cemetery, Eureka, TX.
- The Liver and Kidney Clinic at UT Southwestern Medical Center
The Widowed Persons Service of Tarrant County
2906 S. E. Loop 820, Suite A, Fort Worth, TX 76140
- Visitation Saturday, November 10, 2018
- Graveside Service Saturday, November 10, 2018
Norma Jean, Normie, Mrs. Hodge, Mom, The Gestapo, Aunt Normie, Ma and Norma all names, nicknames or titles given to one individual when spoken or in a thought bring memories or feelings to each of us.
Born February 3rd , 1934 in Gladewater, Texas, she entered this world as Norma Jean Mathews. I would occasionally tease her that the other Norma Jean of that era was so intimidated by her mere presence that she changed her name to Marilyn Monroe. So, Norma Jean, was used by her mother, my father and often by my son who picked it up normally by spending quality time with them. My thought on hearing that name for her is the term strength. She grew up in a tough era, experienced an in and out father leading to eventual parental divorce and thus raised by a single working mom Vergie Ann Mathews.
Normie was the nickname used by her siblings, three sisters (Ruth, Wanna & Quanna) and one brother (CF) through the years. This label over time grew to Aunt Normie as nieces and nephews came along. Of the Mathews clan she was closest to Becky, Robin, Jeff and Jay in their formative years. She always enjoyed receiving updates as their individual families grew or their careers blossomed. She had an extra special place in her heart for Gracie, Jeff’s daughter, regretting that Normie’s baby sister passed away before she experienced a grandmother role. I will let my cousins have their individual memories here but for me it is being taught the valuable lesson of sharing of not only toys but of love for others.
Introduced to by the youngest of her sisters and his younger brother who were seeing each other at the time, Norma Jean fell in love with a young man, Frank Hodge who had just returned home from the Korean Conflict, although not as quickly as he for her. It took a second marriage proposal before she accepted and became Mrs. Hodge. They were married December 10, 1954 and were together for forty years before his sudden death. This feeling is commitment.
As a young woman she worked at Sears Roebuck. After I (Mike) was born she worked a few more years but then was able to transition into a “stay at home mom”. Although that was quite a misnomer with endless trips to baseball fields, early morning carpools to marching band and evening chauffeuring to choir practice. No wonder she made sure I got a car as soon as I turned sixteen. So, with the label Mom the feeling is responsibility.
The Gestapo was an affectionate but deserving title given to Norma by myself and the Deerwood neighborhood children as she served as our rule enforcer. Recently, during one of her hospital stays a conversation evolved with her nurses about this sweet lady having a tough side. We jokingly got around to tools of choice that moms had to occasionally utilize to emphasize the following of rules. Mom’s tool was a fly swatter and my remembrances are honesty, respect and discipline.
Her toughness has shown through with battles against health issues Raynaud Syndrome, PBC of the liver, two bouts with Lymphoma and finally renal disease. Some of these issues striking a young mother at twenty-five years old and requiring a sixty-year fight. As a young kid growing up you are naïve thinking your mother is frail going to the doctor or hospital a lot but as you mature you realize the severity and complexity that medical issues can be. From this label of Mom my feelings are stay tough through adversity and never quit till the job is finished.
Beginning in 1973 she added a new role and became Ma Hodge. Becoming an integral part of her grandson Brian’s life. She along with Pa Hodge, granddaddy and Ole Mom would form a strong alliance and assist Mary Lee and I with his development as a young man. Over the past seven years she was blessed with a great-granddaughter Emma. Now with a young lady around Ma was able to play again and especially dress up in the closets, let me emphasize the plural here, that contained quite a collection of country western attire of boots, jewelry and fancy belts. My feeling here is gratitude for teaching the art of grand-parenting and setting the precedent that spoiling is OK.
With me being an only child and Brian being the only grandchild for his first eleven years on both sides of the family allowed Ma (Norma) as well as Pa (Frank) to also gain from their daughter-in-law Mary Lee an extended family. Norma enjoyed watching Mary Lee’s two sisters, Tena and Jill, grow into lovely ladies as well as watching their children grow and mature into young ladies and gentlemen.
Another Ma Hodge feature is the gold tin and its content, fudge. The gold tin made its appearance as a birthday and holiday gift for our family. The fudge was customized to your preference with or without nuts. You had to guard your stash because as the legend of taste spread through the extended family the fudge vultures would begin to circle. The tradition was to always return the tin to her so it was ready for the next recipient. The secret ingredient had to be Ma’s love because no one else using her recipe seemed to ever duplicate her creamy taste. My remembrance here is I like chocolate.
Residing in the same home for the last forty-five years allowed her to observe another generation of neighborhood children grow up, establish long friendships with neighbors like Gayle and Bob and watch new neighbors like Renee and Tom reinvigorate an older home. She loved to be outside involved with her landscaping or sitting on the back porch just enjoying nature. Although she would tease Mary Lee and I that we moved every time it was time to paint, my remembrance here is grow roots and take pride in what you have.
With the sudden loss of a spouse and having all your current life turned upside down, she turned to WPS, the Widowed Persons Services of Tarrant County via a referral from her church and became Norma again. Her big smile, blue eyes, kind heart and being a good listener led to new friends and ultimately to multiple nights a week of dancing. Initially, she started with three or sometimes four other female friends for lunches and other excursions. Our family nicknamed them the Four Musketeers and loved hearing there latest escapades. As time wore on that group of friends grew into the hundreds and once again the family has enjoyed all of the stories and it felt like to me that I was engrossed in a great novel always anticipating the next chapter or even a sequel. Of course to be presentable at all of these dances or events, Norma twice a week relied on hair stylists Danny and mostly Gina, who Norma liked to claimed as an adopted daughter, . Norma once again showed me her strength and as Mary Lee often reminds me of her ability to come out of a shell to shine like a pearl.
One special friend from the WPS group over these last twenty years has been Roger Crego. I am sure I am misquoting a little but his first words spoken to her were “And who are you pretty little thing?” at one of the WPS gatherings. I think as she had done with Frank those years ago played a little hard to get for Roger. He was persistent and eventually they began going to the dances together allowing their relationship to develop. Roger, the family has viewed you as such a gentleman throughout these years and have been pleased to welcome you into its midst with loving arms. I know your family did the same for Norma as I have witnessed over the years. We cannot thank you enough for being such an integral part of her life through the attention, the respect, the physical care and especially the love you have shown. We expect you to remain involved with the family in the future, especially when it comes to Emma, because rarely has anyone given her a gift on her birthday or Christmas that she cherishes more than you have.
As Norma was a caregiver to her mother (Granny) on and off for thirty years, a sister in the 1960s and then her closest friend/dearest sister in the early 1990s. The family wishes to thank the numerous professionals at UTSW that have assisted with her medical care over these past five months.
We love you and we will miss you whether it is Norma, Mom or Ma.
Your loving son,