A Tribute to my Mother

Since mother’s day is coming soon, I have written this article as a reminder to all of us of the impact we can have on our children and our grandchildren.  I am sure my mother had no idea of the impact her words and sharing would have on me and my future.

As long as I can remember, my mother talked about how much she enjoyed her first year of high school.  She wasn’t allowed to finish because her parents required her to stay home and help care for all her brother and sisters. This was fairly common in her time.  As I reflect on her writing and speaking, she must have been above average in intelligence as she had to do a lot self learning.  She did read newspapers, magazines and her Bible.  She talked about how a neighbor lady taught her to crochet when she was a teenager.  So she would stay up late at night practicing her crocheting.  One of my memories is her crocheting in the evening.  She did beautiful work.  She continued to crochet until she had to give it up due to effect that Rheumatoid Arthritis had on her hands.  She loved to sing and one of my best memories is her singing folk songs as she did her housework (too bad I didn’t inherit her singing talent).  She learned to play the piano.  She could no longer take lessons, because her practice would wake up the babies.  My father bought a piano at a farm sale.  She could still play some in spite of her arthritis at that time.  Later she managed lessons for me.  I loved to practice.  I had to quit after about a year as she was worse and it was difficult to travel the 15 miles to for lessons (I was too young to drive).

My mother instilled in me a love of learning.  She encouraged me and I knew that my schoolwork was top priority for her.  In the early years, she was available to help with spelling and whatever else I needed.  One of her dreams was for me to graduate from high school.  She didn’t realize what she had started.  Her dream of my graduating from high school was just the beginning.  I was the first one in my family to go to college and continued to learn more and more.  My desire for learning continues to this day.

I had a rather long bus ride to high school (45 minutes or so) with lots of stops and twists and turns.  In the morning, that bus ride was sheer misery for me as I suffered from car sickness or I guess you would call it bus sickness.  My mom struggled to find a way to help me by trying different kinds of breakfast etc.  The ride home didn’t seem to bother me.  By the time, I arrived home it was usually supper time (you would call it dinner time).  One of my favorite meals was scrambled eggs potatoes and onions cooking on the stove.  Where I grew up, the large meal was at 12 noon (dinner) and supper was leftovers or a lighter meal.

My mother was a strong woman.  She was a young widow at 45 years old.   One of her regrets was that she and my father didn’t get to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary.  She had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis three years before my father died.  Hers was a severe form which progressed rapidly causing lots of problems with all her joints including her hands and other body systems.  At that time, there weren’t the types of treatments available now.  My mother always did lots of canning in the summer.  In addition, to the vegetables we raised in the garden, they bought bushel baskets of fruit.  I remember my father trying various technics to help with removing the peelings from peaches easily.

She and my father always worked as a team.  When he was busy doing field work, she would milk the cows.  One of my fondest memories is my father drying the dishes in the evening and being rather playful at the same time.

I never thought about my mother being a single mother until recently.  I guess that was because she struggled to do the best she could.  Luckily we lived on a farm and my brother took over the farming responsibilities.  My mother continued with my help to raise chickens.  Because of the type of farm without irrigation of crops, there were some lean years.  Selling chickens and eggs helped to get us through.

In summary my mother made a significant difference in my life.  As I reflect on what I appreciate about my mother I have created the following list:

  1. She had a strong faith.  She read her bible and highlighted important scriptures to her. She read short bedtime bible stories to me.
  2. She was determined to do the best that she could in spite of difficult circumstances.
  3. She loved learning.  She read newspapers, magazines and watched Television.
  4. She encouraged and instilled in me a desire for learning.  She subscribed to magazines for me as a child and as a teenager.  That was a sacrifice for her as money was tight.  I wonder how she knew about these magazines.  They weren’t something that I requested.  I loved them and read them from cover to cover.
  5. When one avenue was closed to her she went on to something else.  She loved working with her hands, when she could no longer crochet; she went on to other types of needlework.  She always had some project going as long as she could.
  6. In spite of severe pain and decreasing mobility, she never gave up and worked hard to cope in any way she could.
  7. She was a caring and kind person.  She maintained friendships from grade school and continued contact with family members through letters.  She wrote those letters herself as long as she was able.





About Arlene H. Johnson


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