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My Non-traditional Mother

I was only nineteen when my mother passed away. It boggles my mind that she was only in my life for nineteen years and I have lived without her for forty-seven years. Still, I remember her larger-than-life personality as if I was with her yesterday.

My mother was not the kiss you on the cheek, tidy apron, cookie making mother. She was not a fan of any type of domestic chores. She was much more comfortable outside than inside. Maybe it was because she was raised on a farm.

Mom kneeling, second from the right

She played basketball for what I suppose were corporate intramural leagues when she worked for Raytheon. (Raytheon was a major defense contractor.) In Florida, she worked as a cocktail waitress in a small bowling alley. We moved back to Virginia and my parents went to find work in Ohio. There she worked for Goodyear Aerospace (defense and NASA contractor) and eventually worked as a mail carrier for the US postal service.

My non-traditional mother was denied the opportunity to finish college because of funding and her parents adamantly opposed her joining the military because of the presumed reputation military women carried. All a bunch or rubbish and the reason my mother supported all of her children joining the military.

As a result, we all learned to do our share inside the house. I cooked a lot of meals, did the laundry (mom insisted on a wringer washer and we did not have a dryer so all our laundry was hung to dry) while my parents worked.

Mom was much more comfortable outside working in the yard or playing touch football with all the neighborhood kids. We usually had a badminton net up in the side yard and horseshoe pits out back.

Mom was a great country cook and in Ohio all the neighborhood kids loved to come to our house to eat our strange but wonderful food – cornbread, biscuits and milk gravy, fried chicken and banana pudding were among the neighborhood favorites.

On the farm where my mother grew up, reading was the favored pastime. My mother was an avid reader (Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Grace Livingston Hill were her favorites) and it was often difficult to break her attention from a good book. I remember well the way her face contorted as she read an action piece in a story as if she was herself involved in the conflict. When I took art classes, I often drew my mother’s hands as she sat still holding a book for long periods of time. In some ways I resented the time she spent lost in her books.

Mom even liked non-traditional tv shows and movies for most women of the time. She loved Sunday afternoon roller derby – especially the women’s teams. High Noon, 12 O’clock High, Rat Patrol, Where Eagles Dare, Von Ryan’s Express, Kelly’s Heroes, and The Great Escape were all my mom’s type of entertainment.

I am not sure I inherited my mother’s adventurous spirit, but I did inherit her desire to pursue my own path wherever that might lead me. I lost her too soon, but her feisty spirit lives on and for that I am forever grateful.

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An Aging Mom’s Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Day 221

I was 19 when my mother passed away. I was in the Air Force and while I came home for the funeral, I was soon back on my own far away from family. It was a very hard time.

Back then, long distance calls were an expensive proposition. I remember that first Mother’s Day without my mom. I decided to go to the mall. In the middle of the mall, there were tons of radio operators (ham radio perhaps?) that had some way to offer free calls to the public for Mother’s Day.

I put my head down anxious to pass them when a woman stepped toward me and offered to let me make a call my mom. I just responded with a quiet “No thank you” to which she responded, “Don’t you love your mother?” It was cruel and hurtful. I bit my tongue and just walked away. It was a hard Mother’s Day and one I will never forget.

My mom was a tough helluva good woman. I miss her tremendously. She was not around for the birth of my own children, nor was she to ever meet any of her grandchildren. As sad as that may seem, her legacy lives on. Memories of her and her influence in our lives lasts forever.

Today is my husband’s first Mother’s Day without his mom. It will be hard I know. It will be especially difficult because Tuesday will be her burial. It is a lot to throw together in a small span of days. The family will come here after the short service, so I am at least happy he will have his family around him.

img_9854I received a wonderful surprise gift Friday from my daughters and granddaughter. Three dozen roses and a beautiful sun catcher with a hummingbird on it. They are gorgeous. I appreciate their thoughtfulness so much. I always want them to know that loving me and remembering me is always enough. The gifts I receive every day that I get to be a part of their lives is more than enough.

This is also my birthday weekend and I am still a bit under the weather, so it is destined to be a day of relaxation. We are not big bash celebrants so no big festivities planned today. I am getting calls and texts from family and friends which are always delightful and make my day!

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Image from Unsplash.com

Last night one of our daughters and her family dropped by for a surprise visit. Hubby fixed dinner and we had a nice time catching up. They brought me cards for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Then I received a text from one of our other daughters. She and her sister went together to buy me a gift certificate for a sensory deprivation float. How thoughtful! I am a little nervous but anxious to try it. I have been talking about it for weeks and it is so sweet they remembered.

This morning I received a video from my 21-month-old granddaughter singing happy birthday followed by a quick video chat. Such a sweet way to start my morning.

My husband and I will spend the day together just being. That is always a welcome way to spend a rainy day.

On being a mom:

Moms put in the work – sometimes the best mom is a dad.
Gifts are lovely, but a call or a visit is just as lovely.
Being a mom is a forever job.
Being a mom is hard, but also so rewarding.
Moms are not always perfect.
Children are not always perfect.
Sometimes families are healthy together.
Sometimes families are healthier apart.
Grandmothers are moms without the responsibility
AND I LOVE THAT!

For the many women who have lost children, Mother’s Day can be an extremely hard day. I send you my love and thoughts for this difficult day.

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to have a lot of strong mother figures in my life. When my mother passed away, my grandmothers, my sisters, my step-mom, my mother-in-law, and sometimes my good friends stepped in to fill that role. My Dad even filled that role many, many times. I could not have made it without their love, strength, and guidance. I will forever be indebted to them all.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

 

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Happy Birthday Mom

Day 37

Today would have been my mother’s 91st birthday. To imagine she could have lived to 91 is mind blowing. She would have met all her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren. If she would have lived to 80 or 70 or 60 or even 50 would have been such a blessing. But that was not to be. I suffered a lot after losing her at such an early age, but I am forever thankful that she was my mom.

Memories

I, of course have wonderful memories of my mom. She was a no-nonsense, call them like she sees them kind of person. She was not much to give out lots of cuddles, but her love was relentless and without question. She believed a lot more in self-sufficiency and women being strong than she felt about the importance of coddling us. She grew up in a time that women had to fight for whatever independence they had and she was definitely a fighter.

Photos from the Past

A few years ago I found some old scratched up photos of my mother I had never seen. Photos of her before she married my Dad and of course before any us were born. I have a deep affection for this woman I never met but somehow always knew.

My mom played in a women’s basketball league when we were growing up. She worked for Raytheon and they sponsored the league. This would have been over 50 years ago, so she was definitely ahead of her time.

Today I sit looking and thinking about all she missed. I close my eyes and picture her rocking my children or my grandchildren. Then I remember that every time I rock or hold them, she is, too. And she’s whispering in my ear reminding me to be grateful for every little moment.

I miss you, Mom. Happy Birthday.

“I love you every day. And now I will miss you every day.”
Mitch Albom