My sister Janet is very thoughtful. Rather than Googling our Christmas gifts, she makes them by hand, often from childhood artifacts.
This past year, she spent countless hours researching family records to make a book detailing the lives of our ancestors going back four generations. In addition to vital statistics, she included pictures and personal observations uncovered in family diaries.
It was an incredible gift. Reading through it, I was struck by the fact that most of the details of one’s life are lost after a couple of generations. In some cases, all my sister could find was, “He/she was honest and a hard worker.”
A hundred years from now, what will be known about us?
Recently, Janet asked me to do a write-up for Mom and Dad to include in the book.
I would like to share what I wrote about Mom in celebration of Mother’s Day.
Mom was born in 1928. She and her twin brother were the last of ten children born in the short span of twelve years.
Mom’s dad was a machinist. He worked two jobs to support his large family. Her mother ran the household, including the herculean task of preparing meals for thirteen people every day.
Mom didn’t get the opportunity to attend college. Money was tight in her family, and boys’ education was prioritized. Mom was talented, especially in sewing and arts and crafts. She made her own wedding dress in addition to the dresses for all her bridesmaids.
Money was also fairly tight in our family. Mom was highly creative in providing entertainment on a budget. Our summers were filled with trips to museums, art projects, and Mom’s favorite, swimming in community pools. I don’t ever remember Mom buying anything for herself, but she always made sure we had new shoes and nice clothes to wear.
Mom’s life revolved around family. Whenever we were sick, she stayed up all night by our bedside, bringing cool wash rags and ice chips to help us feel better.
Mom was an active cub scout and brownie troop “den mother.” She also spent countless hours schlepping us to music lessons. I credit my love of music and the arts entirely to Mom. She had a great singing voice and was a church choir member for decades. I can still remember her strong tenor voice ringing out Christmas Carols in our home.
Mom was our buddy. She could fix anything. One day my beloved microscope broke, and Mom took it apart to troubleshoot the issue, disassembling the numerous tiny lens groups in the process. When she put it all back together, it functioned perfectly.
Whenever we lost something, Mom could always find it. I could hunt for what seemed like hours for an item lost in the grass, and mom would find it in no time.
Mom was an excellent pastry chef. I have never eaten a pie as tasty as hers.
Mom was adventurous. When I bought my first mini-bike, she couldn’t wait to give it a go. Following brief instructions covering throttle, brakes, clutch, and gears. Mom climbed on, twisted the throttle wide-open, and dropped the clutch. She screamed across the yard in a wheelie trailing a cloud of blue smoke before being thrown over the handlebars.
Mom suffered from bipolar disorder that worsened as she got older. Anxiety-ridden dementia plagued her elder years. Yet, despite her personal challenges, she never focused on herself. Mom’s life was dedicated to us.
Life can be difficult. Some challenges can’t be overcome. But in the end, it’s our impact on others that truly makes a difference.
I can’t imagine having a better mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
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