March 23, 2021

Tootsie in her early 30’s


She was born on this date in 1920—the fifth child (second daughter) of Arley and Alta Eaves—and given a “fancy” name—Margaret Angelique.  Her sister Mildred ran out on the porch to tell the neighbors the baby had come—saying, “our little Tootsie-Wootsie is here!”  Tootsie it was.  

As half-sisters born a generation apart, we had a sometimes awkward relationship.  Her three sons—Jerry, Joe and Bill—were my closest companions in childhood. Sometimes she mothered me along with them, and sometimes we didn’t quite know how to be “sisterly.”

Her handsome young husband Joe Rowden died on the USS Indianapolis at the end of World War II.  His framed photograph in his Navy uniform was always on her living room table; she never took off her wedding ring. 

She didn’t care much about cleaning house—and her home was always cluttered and cozy—usually with wonderful smells coming from the kitchen.  She was an amazing cook and loved to feed everyone. She wanted only the best for her three sons—who all grew up to be fine men. 

She loved cars—and always wanted to trade hers in for the newest model after a couple of years.  And she drove everywhere—to visit family and friends.  She visited me in Texas, Mississippi and South Carolina. She never missed a wedding or graduation or other special occasion—and her gifts were always shockingly extravagant.

After the boys were in school, she went to Tennessee Wesleyan College and got a degree in elementary education.  For many years, she taught at City Park School near her home.

It seemed perfect that she should share her birthday with Jerry and Marilyn’s daughter Kim!

Baby Kim

Kim grew into a lovely young woman—intelligent, funny, athletic, vibrant—she got her MBA and a wonderful job.  She had a condo in Knoxville and seemed on course for a happy and successful life. At 24, she was diagnosed with breast cancer—the variant that had plagued her mother’s family. After years of remissions and resurgence, a bone marrow transplant at Duke, she died at 28. A devastating loss for those who loved her so much—including Tootsie.

Beautiful KIm

This is one of my favorite photos of Tootsie and Kim at Heather’s Vanderbilt graduation in 1990.

They drove over to Nashville together that morning to join us that day—just as Tootsie had also come to Columbia for Heather and Patrick’s graduations from high school.  Kim was in remission on this bright morning—and we had so much hope for her. 

Today I lovingly remember these two who shared a March 23 birthday!

Sally, Tootsie, Kim, Patrick and Randy
Vanderbilt Graduation, 1990

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