Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank You Mama...

I have been realizing more and more things that I am thankful to my mom for and not sure if I told her any or all of them, but I wanted to do that now. Funny how we don't realize some things until after someone is gone and we have space to reflect:

My mom (left) and Fred's mom Easter weekend 2009
I always loved her smile!

Thanksgiving 2009

Enjoying holding her youngest great-grandchild TR

"Teddy, don't cry, what are you going to cry for?"

"There, that's better."

I don't remember my mom really complaining about discomforts or various sacrifices that come with life. 

I also have always remembered how good of a sick bed mama she was. I used to pretend I was sick longer than I really was so I could stay home from school and get her "special treatment" that only a mom could deliver. She would put cold compresses on my feverish brow, change my pillowcase and make me special "just for when you were sick" menu items.
She or my dad would come into my room in the middle of the night when I struggled to breathe with my too often bouts with bronchitis and rub Vick's Vaporub on me and fill the vaporizer and talk to me for a while until I slept again as one of them rubbed my back. More often than not though it was my mom because Dad worked the night shift when I was younger and then when he was on days she felt he needed to have as much uninterrupted sleep as possible.

I also realize now how much loss she suffered in her life as she raised us and beyond those years and we never really fully realized her  her pain and sorrow because she didn't want to burden us with that. She lost her brother Harold sometime when I was young, when I was four-years-old her father died after a long struggle after having survivied a debilitating stoke , her younger sister's husband, Uncle Dick who introduced her to my dad before they shipped out in WW II and her mother both died within months of each other when I was away at college, her older sister suffered a stroke and then died years later when I was a young mom and my dad died jsut six months after they had just moved into a retirement community. Her younger sister had developed Alzheimers nad passed away when she was barely over my dad's death. She always accepted these losses as a part of life and refused to dwell on them so I think that I kind of felt that she really didn't have any real deep hurts or emotions or know how to "properly grieve". I now realize how wrong I was.

My mom also was ahead of the curve as far as women being able to participate in life as co-equals with men and she always felt that it was very unfair and showed a type of arrogance when someone discouraged a girl or a woman from considering pursuing something merely on the basis of her gender. As a girl she refused to use an English saddle or ride side-saddle instead riding her horse bareback or with a western saddle. When she was new to St. Louis at the young age of twenty-one or twenty-two she worked out an arrangement with an employer of hers to work part time for flying lessons from him as he was a pilot. She soloed but never did get her license! That was in 1941 or 1942! Go Amelia II!!!

However, she was also fiercely devoted to us kids and our upbringing and felt it best, if possible, for her to stay home with us. She did not go back to work until we were all in school and then only took positions that required her to be on the job during school hours and were liberal with giving her time off for our care. That is pretty amazing now that I think back on it as that would have been in the early sixties, well before the movement for women being given the opportunities they have today to more easily pursue both their careers in mothering and their chosen profession.

I have to say that she is who inspired me to stay at home with my kids, even though at times we had to sacrifice quite a bit. She also inspired me to not just accept the status quo when it comes to the gender-bias in the world.

I always thought that my mom's statement that her beliefs were "private" were a cop-out for not really having any true faith.I am slowly realizing that her upbringing and her generation was a much more private group as a whole and that just because they didn't "tell-all" every moment didn't mean that they didn't have deep personal convictions and life-stories of value. The generations after theirs made it acceptable to share our hurts and sorrows and losses and try to "work through" all of the effects of all of that. However, I fear that we often diminished the every-bit-as-real feelings and trauma that my mom's generation experienced and had to figure out how to move through, around, or in it without all the support groups and therapy that is more the norm now! 

Something else I really value about my mom was her ability to laugh and enjoy life and not take what she had for granted. I think it was because of that mindset that she always welcomed others into our home for meals, and holiday gatherings that otherwise might not have anywhere or anyone to share such times with. She also enriched her life by surrounding herself with friends from as early as I can remember ,but disdained gossip and cattiness. 

Her independence was maddening at times, particularly later in life when she needed our help, but I will say that my mother never was a burden on me and I know that was one fear she carried with her for years.
She handled her loss of independence like everything else in her long life with dignity and grace...and a sense of humor. I hope that I can grow old with the same style and grace and dignity that my mom displayed.
Thank you Mama! We didn't always see eye-to-eye, but I believe you loved me and respected me as well and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Three Generations of Strong-Willed Women!

There's that smile...she loved her kids and her grandkids and her great grandkids!!!
 Love you Mama!

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