My mom was slender-ish, 5 ft. 4" and an adventurer. After all...she married my dad. A happy sort who loved animals a bit more than she should have as our house was a zoo of sorts most of the time. Little green lizards (a type of gecko) everywhere (Un-named), a parrot (Spook), a baby crocodile (Crack), two cats (Hymn and Her) and jars of miscellaneous bugs but no cages anywhere. Her day began with feeding this and that to each with great care and concern as was her way. She mostly loved the little lizards which crawled in through the open window slats to gaze upon all else from vantage points on the wall. They changed ID over time, became bigger and smaller ones, never less than five or six. Green ones, some with red heads and gecko-like with fat toes that left tiny tracks wherever they wandered.
She was a fine cook of anything she wanted to serve. She loved to cook pasta with red sauce as she called it, and it was delicious. Louise had taught her about the local vegetables and how to prepare them. Mom was kind to me always, hugging, kissing me goodbye on school days and taking me around to see the wonders of this particular paradise. She was a consummate photographer, taking 35mm slides of everything with her Argus C3 camera. That camera was with her wherever she went so she could record her world.
We often went to Balboa which she particularly liked, a funky sort of backwater town attached to the side of Panama City. There were shops there, and a sort of open air market where locals would sell whatever they had in the way of fruits and vegetables and household junk. Mostly she came to bar hop in the late afternoon with me in tow. She was a drinker, attractive and more gregarious than most. I was told by her that I was "The Preventer" though I knew not what she meant. Men, of which there were plenty, found her amusing and, if it weren't for me, too available to ignore. The port of Balboa was right there, sailors and workers from all over the world, some with wily ways that, it seemed, she found interesting, maybe too interesting I thought. When my father was gone, we went there often.
The beach was avoided at all costs as the riptide was dangerous and many drownings of military people had happened there. No doubt they were drunk. I wasn't allowed out of my mothers sight while in Balboa. She would lead me to the bathroom when I had to pee and wait for me at the door. She drank and talked and I'd get an ice cream bar and pilfer a sip of her Old Fashioned when I could. I liked the taste. She would shop for clothes and trinkets and we'd drive home to Ft. Clayton in the jeep, her tipsy and laughing and me anxious to join my compadres in an evening adventure or mud slide.