My mom came from a completely different world than I grew up in. She grew up during the great Depression and became a wife and mother during World War II. I’m a Baby Boomer. I grew up in a pretty stable world, all things considered. I had a much easier childhood than my Mother and a more optimistic outlook on life. She gave me the courage to try things my Mother would never have considered doing herself. I was fortunate to have such a secure childhood that, as a parent, I explored new ideas in raising my own children. My children were invited to be part of the decision making process rather than simply being told what to do. I lived through the civil rights movement, the assassinations of John Kennedy, his brother, Bobby and Martin Luther King Jr., through Watergate and the Vietnam War. I remember the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, watching American Bandstand every week, trying communal living and being a vegetarian for 20 years.
My mom thought that doctors were God! I look for herbal remedies before heading to the doctor’s office. My mother was a smoker and I remember how her car reeked of cigarette smoke. Thanks to her, I never took up smoking. My mom was an avid pianist and sang in the church choir. I played the clarinet, saxophone and twirled the baton and swam with the synchronized swim team. I avoided the church choir. My mom was a reader. Her down time was usually spent reading a book of some sort, even if it was the Readers’ Digest Condensed Book-of-the-Month. My mom didn’t disagree. Instead, she held in her anger and every once in a while, exploded like a volcano. My siblings and I would all run to our rooms to hide until the lava cooled. My mom aged gracefully. She was a beautiful young woman and just as beautiful as she aged. My sister gave her a “Glamor photo shoot” for her 65th birthday and she is stunning in that photo.
My Mom was frugal. Oh, was she frugal. Even though my father was a successful businessman, my mother made every penny count. She would buy us flannel pajamas in July when they were on sale and wonder why we didn’t wear them until December. My father held my mother on a pedestal; rarely have I known someone to love anyone more. I once cussed at my mother and my dad picked me up and threw me against the wall, reminding me that “I would never speak that way to my mother again.” My mom wasn’t a terrible cook but she was English. Vegetables from her kitchen came out of a can and were reheated until they were steamy and soggy. The only fresh vegetables she ever served were fresh tomatoes and those Michigan tomatoes were so sweet that we would suck the juice right out of them. They also made the best darn BLTs you ever tasted.
My mom passed away 10 years ago and I still think about her almost every day. I loved my mom and appreciate her complete commitment to mothering. The things we shared in common were teaching our children to be inquisitive learners, to be resilient and to love our children unconditionally.Thanks Mom, for everything!