To all our mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers too – I hope you have a happy and relaxing day!
A recycled post – I hope you don’t mind.
King James Version (KJV) Ps-16-6
The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places;
yea, I have a goodly heritage.
Like many of you, I’m sure, there is some sadness and longing as I think of my mother. We celebrated our last Mother’s Day together in 1997, so today I will think about all of the good years we had as mother and daughter, and later as Grandmother and mother too.
I was lucky to have her for the first fifty years of my life, as I wasn’t born until after her 41st birthday. She was an older mom, but I like to think that she had worked out all of the kinks on her older children by the time she got to me!
My mother was an enthusiastic and hands-on grandmother. She loved children, and they loved her back. I think a part of her never grew up. She taught one of my nephews to climb a tree, and my daughter to ride a two-wheeler. Cousin Kevin called her the “party maker.”
My daughter was the youngest grandchild, and very close to my mother from the day she was born until the day that her grandmother died. The year before, she and my son-in-law published a book in honor of her grandmother’s 90th birthday. We all contributed essays and tributes, but my daughter’s was the best:
When I was a teenager, I remember Grandma used to say “You never listen to me!” But Gram, you were wrong. I listened, and I watched and learned; and I believe that there’s a little magic piece of you inside me.
I know it’s that little piece that makes me stop on my walk to the train in the morning to watch the rest of the sunrise, or pull over to the side of the road to pick up a fall leaf or smell the lilacs in the spring.
Grandma used to cut fruit apart to show me the beautiful patterns inside. She watered the plants and told me to listen to them drink. She brushed the dirt off the vegetables in the garden and bit into them, telling me to taste their goodness. She sees beauty and magic everywhere. I believe she sees God all the time, in all the good and lovely things of the earth.
Gram, I hope you know how rich my life is and what wonderful memories I have because you were there for me. What a lucky child I was to have a grandmother with an endless supply of “rainy day” projects and your bottomless scrap bags and boxes full of fabric, felt, sequins, buttons, construction paper, papier-mache, modeling clay, paints and brushes! You were always thinking of Kevin [her cousin] and me, planning special treats and activities for us. And you always, always had time to listen to my childish thoughts and ideas. Maybe I was “spoiled” as a child, but I think it’s great that you made me feel like the most important person in the world.
Even now, I feel your unconditional love and your prayers for me every day. When I can’t sleep, I hear your voice: “Think quiet thoughts.” When I’ve messed things up, I remember your wise, “What’s done is done.” Most important I remember your “I love you.”
Thank you for all you have given to me. Happy Birthday!
I wrote this to my mom on her 90th birthday:
During the early years, you were just “Mom” and, to me, our family was not much different from those of our friends and neighbors. It took some time and experience for me to realize how special you, and our family, really are.
As far back as the Depression years, the family stuck together in good times and, especially, the bad times. I remember your stories about those who lived at the Farm during those years, off and on, depending on whether or not they were working. Uncle Tom also had stories about how brothers and sisters helped each other back then.
While growing up, our social lives were centered on the family. Landmark events were family reunions, weddings, and funerals. Also prominent in my memory are the visits to Aunt Sarah’s house for a week or so, a trip to visit Aunt Verna at Fife Lake, staying with Aunt Evelyn in California, camping with the family at Caseville and, of course, those trips to the farm! The welcome mat was always out for another member of our family.
During the 70’s, you and your sisters helped each other through Dad’s and Uncle Ross’ sickness, as well as your own hospitalization and surgery. You and Aunt Anna also took care of Jennifer and Kevin during the summers – more than cared for, but nurtured and adored! I can only shake my head in wonder at all the parties, special excursions, projects, and pageants that you planned for those children!
During the 70’s you organized the farm reunion of your brothers and sisters; you designed a special program, and organized special events, like worship at Duff church, and a tree planting at the farm.
Going to the farm during those days was really special to me. You always had a big garden, and you and Anna would can tomatoes, peaches, pickles, chili sauce, and whatever else struck your fancy (and don’t forget the beets – my favorite!) Then there were the excursions to pick strawberries, raspberries, and peaches. And those wonderful Sunday dinners!!! Just thinking about the fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and all the fresh vegetables and fruit in season that would be loaded on the dining room table makes me hungry! How did you ever do it all?
You always knew, even if I didn’t, how important the family is. That’s why you organized the cousins’ reunion a few years back. And that’s why you have always stayed in touch, by phone and letter, with our cousins, and nieces, and nephews – indeed, every twig on this family tree!
Thanks, Mom, for doing it all. Thanks for teaching me what is important in this life. I only hope that I can do half as well, and half as much, as you have. I’ll try, anyway. Enjoy your day, and all the relations, and take pride in what you have accomplished.
On Mother’s Day, I also think about the other women who encouraged and inspired me.
Among my earliest memories is Aunt Flossie, also my godmother, who had a house full of grown sons when I was born, and our next-door neighbor until I was nine. She said I was “my little petunia in the onion patch”, and spoiled me a bit! She also taught me about wild flowers in the woods, and made delicious pancakes, just for me, with warm syrup in a blue Shirley Temple pitcher.
My Aunt Verna was a missionary to the migrant workers in Florida in the 1950’s and 60’s, so kind, with a gentle voice. She was my mom’s youngest and closest sister, and they lived together for the last 10 years of my mother’s life.
Aunt Anna, widowed quite young in life, kept the family farmhouse open for many years, a fine Christian woman, and my mother’s oldest sister. She could be a bit stern, but had a soft heart under it all. If ever anyone in our family was in need, physically or spiritually, her home was open to them. You could always count on a chicken dinner with vegetables from the garden every Sunday after church, served to whomever appeared at the table!
I never knew my grandmother, but she raised five very fine women.
I am thankful to have had these strong women in my life, and it is a pleasure to remember them particularly today.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
The real reward for being a mother is, one day, to see the fine grown woman or man that grew from that tiny baby. I am one of the truly blessed to have a daughter who is a fine woman, wife, mother.
PS: Me, my daughter and my grandsons on the day that the younger one was born.
Please share your memories and stories about your mothers, grandmothers, and other women you honor!