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.





Effects of Coping with Past Grief

This post will focus on losses over one’s life and the impact those may have on current losses.

Most children do not have memories prior to about age four.  Those children, who have experienced multiple losses or have some type of trauma, may as adults have missing pieces of their childhood memories.  Those children who lost a parent before the age three plus years of age will not be able to recall memories of their parent except what they have been told and through pictures.  For example, my husband’s mother was killed in a car accident when he was 2 ½ years old.  His paternal grandmother came and cared for him until his father remarried.  His maternal grandparents were very much a part of his life until they died.  His stepmother died suddenly after being in his life for five years.  His father remarried again.  His father visited his first wife’s parents and helped care for them.  His father and last stepmother were very wise and kept pictures and other mementos of his mother and stepmother.  So my husband has a sense of who these two mothers were and what they were like.  Having his mother’s parents in his life provided him with consistency and a sense of security.  Even though, they didn’t talk much about his mother.  Adults think they are helping the child by not talking about missing person in the child’s life.

Not all children have this kind of support.  Sometimes when the there is a remarriage and especially as other children are born.  The oldest may not have the kind of relationship with their stepparent that helps them to feel safe and secure.  So they not only have the loss of a parent, but the loss of security and perhaps the loss of their childhood.

Sometimes children are given messages that don’t let them grieve appropriately.  For example, they are told not to cry over a lost pet, we’ll get another one.  Sometimes when a parent loses a child or a child has a prolonged illness, the remaining child feels left out and knows that something is wrong but may be sent away to a relative.  Sometimes couples are so caught up in their own grief; they fail to help a surviving child deal with their own loss and grief.

Adults are given messages by others that interfere with their grieving process.  Friends and family members tell them to keep busy.  They are in a hurry for the person in grief to move on with their lives.  There is no specific time limit on healing from grief.  The simplest things may be a trigger and the tears are back again.  Another message that is prevalent is that grief is a private affair and the grieving person feels that they must grieve alone.  Everyone needs someone to share their grief with.

Groups are a great place for those in grief to share their pain and feelings.  They discover that they are not alone.  They realize that they are understood and free to share their own grief process.  Tears are welcome.  Groups  provide the tools to begin the recovery and healing process.  Group members receive the resources to continue their grief work after the group ends.