When my mom was born, Calvin Coolidge was President. (I am sure she would give me her look for saying that..)
She was born in the ‘hills and hollers’ of Eastern Tennessee. When I visited there with her, her mom, and my father in the summer of 1969 I understood what a ‘southern breakfast’ truly was… never did steak and eggs taste better than after sleeping in a down filled bed!
She was part of what has been called the “greatest generation.” The day after she graduated from High School in 1943, she packed up all her earthly possessions and moved to Dayton, Ohio where the work was. Within a week, she had a job and became a part of an important part of the war effort – a civilian employee with General Motors. She left Dayton only to go to college and returned to Tennessee only a few times.
College was on her agenda after the war but she postponed it a year to help her parents buy a house using the money she saved for college. She never regretted doing it.
She had (and still has) high standards when it came to men. No divorced men, no smokers nor drinkers. Pictures of her in those days showed a blonde beauty who had, I am sure, numerous suitors. But she dated little and told God that if she was to be an “old maid” then so be it and she did not want to be a cranky one!
But in 1946 she met a family, including a 15 year old boy, who would become a key part of her life to this day.
Independent to the exasperation of her father, she secretly learned to drive after getting off work. He did not want her to do so and then refused to help her find a car. She asked a cousin to help her and she found her first car, bought with her own money, a 1950 Dodge (black with red interior and the personal car of a local police chief). Though chagrined, her father loved her car and liked the sound of the horn!
By the mid-1950’s the 15 year old boy had become a man on the battlefields of Korea and held a passionate interest in her. Much to her chagrin. “Why doesn’t he date girls his own age?” Well, she would find out that what he wanted, he usually got.
And in October 1955 the 31 year old library employee and the 24 year old tool and die maker got married and stayed married until my father passed away in 1991.
Time then flew by with my birth and the life that comes from living and raising a son and church and school and family… She worked for a bank, then as a private kindergarten teacher, then a public school substitute teacher for over a decade until she retired in the early 80’s. When I went off to college “two states, 300 miles, 6 hours, and one time zone away” she admitted that she cried all the way back across those two states. (I KNOW she would give me the look right now.)
When my father retired in the late 80’s they traveled to California and back with plans for a Pacific Northwest trip that never materialized because of my father’s sudden death from a second heart attack.
I remember how hard it was to leave her, alone for the first time in over 35 years, on that Mother’s Day, a widow.
But today, I left her recuperating from major heart surgery this week, her independence currently curtailed as she regains her strength. But as I neared home her nurse called me to let me know that she was awake from a procedure, talking her up, and that she wanted me to know that and also to know if “I got home safely.” Yup, that’s my mom.
My mother is an example of a woman in which learning and education has known no bounds. She is a person of great faith. Both have contributed to me creating this blog nearly 6 years ago.
So I salute my mother today and give thanks to God for her as we now navigate together a new chapter with uncertainty as to the next steps but with gratitude for the life we have lived together and apart and now closer (geographically and otherwise) together again.
Happy Mother’s Day mom!