Dora Mae’s husband, Ford, passed away in 1990. “She never did remarry again,” Evelyn said. But she had a boyfriend, some years later, and told her daughter, “‘Well, why should I marry him, he draws good money, I draw good money, and… I’m too independent.’” Her mother was independent, Evelyn said. “She had to be, though, if you were raised like my mother, where she had been raised by her grandmother. You had to be independent. You had to know what you wanted, and do it. And she loved her music. [She’d say,] ‘I just pick it because I want to pick it hear myself.’ She used to tell us that… ‘I’m gonna play this cause I want to hear it. And that’s the way she was.’ She loved her music.” Music, a piece of her independence.
Dora Mae continued to play, continued to perform with her daughter and son-in law, into her old age.
In 1996, her son committed suicide. “We didn’t know that depression was in our family,” said Evelyn. “Mother made it two more years. He was so much like her… I don’t think she had any will to live, after his death.”
She passed away, in 1998, July 20th, a week after her 71st birthday. “And she enjoyed that birthday,” said Evelyn. “She was in the hospital. A friend got her yellow roses, and we had her a birthday cake.”
There’s nobody who’ll be exactly like her, Ethan said. ”Never be a person just like her, you know. Most everybody that knew her thought the world of her. She took care of her whole family. She was the matriarch, for sure. Kept them in line, tried to.”
Evelyn, who still plays with her husband Moses, said, “I miss her when we play the music, too, because I can hear it, I can hear her playing with me today, just like her little haunted banjo that she had.”