Happy Mother’s Day

I should include all the mothers in my family, so that would include my mother-in-law Lila, who lives just a few blocks from our house. And a super SPECIAL MOTHER’S DAY to daughter-in-law, Laurie…..who is the NEW mother of Carolyn Gail (named after her two grandmothers).

And…..to remember my grandparents. My maternal grandmother died from a brain tumor when I was at band camp freshman year in high school. Her sister, my Aunt Edith, also died of a brain tumor after an agonizingly hard, cruel battle that included multiple brain surgeries. Grandma Mamie McCormick made the family promise not to put her through that…..and they didn’t.

My paternal grandmother, Mary Gardner, outlived her husband … and then moved in with her younger son. She outlived him and moved in with my dad. She outlived him and moved in with Joan and I back in 1996. Our sons were very active in high school activities at the time and I remember how terrified she was when we would leave her home alone’ in all her 93 years, she had NEVER been alone. Wow. When her health declined and our fear of her falling while we were out increased, we reluctantly put her in a nursing home, which seemed to hasten her demise. Per her request, we flew her ashes to her Florida church to be buried next to Grandpa Bruce.

But mostly, this post is a tribute to my mother, who now resides in the Northern Kentucky nursing home, where she worked for a couple decades as their Activities Director. She always said they should give her a room for life. They did name a hallway after her …. a few years before demolishing that late 1800’s former mental hospital with a modern replacement. And they didn’t “give” her anything. It didn’t take long for their $5,000+/month bill to eat up her house and life savings.

The Weekly Bulletin at school this week had a note from the principal referencing the scourge and fear of Polio, a now conquered disease. Mom was a victim of that terrible disease. Although she wasn’t as paralyzed as some, it left one side of her body a different size and strength than the other side. She always had to buy two pairs of different sized shoes and use one of each pair. When she picked up a pan from the stove, she used her left hand to support her right arm. Because one leg was a couple inches shorter than the other, she walked with a severe limp.

And yet, she was active in high school sports, loved hunting, fishing and horseback riding. She was a good stay-at-home mom raising five kids until she and dad divorced when I was twelve and my youngest sister was under two. Without a car, hindered by her handicap and the five of us, she eventually found work as an Activities Director at Rosedale Manor, a former mental asylum converted to a nursing home. Two blocks from our house, she could walk….and we would go there after school until she got off and could come home….

She could have qualified for welfare but refused to accept it. She taught us responsiblity. We had rotating ‘chores’ that included things like dishes, taking out the trash, cutting the grass, cleaning the dog pen, making runs to the different specialty stores in the area to get milk, fruit or vegetables…. and she taught me how to do the laundry so I could go to the laundromat weekly. She scheduled payments with all her creditors and paid what she could when she could, but never failed to pay.

I still don’t know how she did it, but all five of us went through band. And she went to every concert. She supported my going to college, even though she had never been and didn’t really know much about how to get it done.

When we scattered into three different states, hers was always the house to go to. What she didn’t give us in money, she gave us in love and stability. We’re not a lot alike, but the five kids all landed on their feet, are all self sufficient and have avoided a lot of the pitfalls of modern society. Ya done good mom.

….to be continued

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