She spent her life taking care of family. Starting as a child herself, the oldest of six kids, and has been mothering ever since. There are plenty of moms who deserve recognition on this Mother’s Day, but only one of them is mine, and she has received very little credit for her job as mother.
Born and raised in the mountains of West Virginia, dropped out of high school in her senior year, but my Mom could do just about anything from cutting hair to sewing and upholstery, flower arranging, square dancing, and most of what she learned, was self-taught, including how to read music and play the organ. She got her G.E.D. in her thirties I think, just on principle. She is not a quitter. She doesn’t know the meaning of “give up”. She has an insatiable curiosity. She has never been a social butterfly, but she does love to visit with friends and family, it was Dad who truly was the homebody and so, as was the case for many in the day when they were raising their family, there weren’t vacations and outings, other than with extended family or church-related. Life for Mom was keeping house, cooking, and raising her young’uns, going to church, singing in the choir. She had an “outside job” as church secretary briefly when I was in high school, though I don’t know if she was paid for it, and then at an industrial testing company as a receptionist, other than that she was always around. She happened to very much enjoy housekeeping and every person who ever came to our house said things like “you could eat off of Judy’s floors”, everything was that clean! She married my Dad at seventeen years of age, and was a Mom twice over before she was 20.
On a visit home recently, Mom showed me letters that she had kept from when she and my dad were first married. Dad had come to Virginia to find work, and mentions in the letter paying something like three dollars a week to rent a room, and trying to make enough money working in a gas station, to bring Mom and my older brother Chuck, to live where he was.
I remembered something the other day, when I was working in my “new” kitchen, how when we first moved into this house over two decades ago, that my Dad was helping with some of that, and in wiping down baseboards, he commented how the people who lived here before let it get “just filthy” and that he “didn’t understand how someone could live like that”. My thought yesterday, was that although Dad did appreciate coming home to a nice clean house everyday, he had no inkling whatsoever, how much work it required for Mom to keep it that way. I myself got my household organizational skills from Mom, who had “a place for everything and everything in its place” but the level of “clean” she maintained has never even been reached here. It’s not just that it is a different day and age, but having been sick so much, and also at other times working outside the home wasn’t conducive to that type of “serious clean”! I have always felt self-conscious when she came here, though living in West Va, she has not been here all that often.
Mom had my older brother, then me, then my little brother Jackie, and then when Jackie was in kindergarten, Mom and Dad adopted my aunt’s daughter. There was a pretty big gap in age between my sister and me, so we were never close as we might have been had we been nearer in age, so I was a typical middle kid or second kid, very content to play in solitude and keep busy with crafts, drawing, writing in my diary, and occasionally hanging around with friends from school. The introduction of my adopted sister into the family monumentally shifted the dynamic of the family, and kept Mom very stressed from that time forward.
About 26 years ago, Mom and Dad became the parents (guardians) to that same sister’s out-of-wedlock baby boy, and about four years after that, her second child, a girl.
My mom and dad both have crowns in heaven for those sacrifices alone, and there was a lot of heartache involved in doing “the right thing” by these three individuals who were family before they were immediate family. At the end of my Dad’s life, nearly five years ago now, I wrote that “he gave all he had”. The same goes for my Mom. They are two of the most unselfish people I have ever known.
My mom has fibromyalgia too, and so everything she did, from her thirties on, she did with pain and fatigue. So that is another reason she didn’t socialize a whole lot. And really no one in their extended family or circle of friends knew how much energy it took to do most things, and being busy and stressed with the extra kids through the years, didn’t leave time, nor money, for a lot else.
Mom is a humble person, as was Dad. Mom is a resourceful person. Anytime she wanted to make something or work out a problem, she always had to “study on it a while” but she always came up with a way. Our youngest takes after her in that sense, that and her nose, lol. When I was in Junior High school, Mom and Dad made the decision to move out of the nearly new house we lived in, to an older fixer upper, that they were able to buy, if memory serves, outright with the equity they had in the previous home. The first time I saw it, kids apparently had gotten in there while it was empty, because I remember some writing on the bathroom mirror. But Mom and Dad made that place beautiful and did it in an economical way. Mom is a terrific money-manager. If she had ever had enough to invest, I imagine she’d have done well in the stock market. But they were just “simple folk” of a generation and time in America the likes of which is now extinct. Because they came from nothing, lived simply and poor coming up, they took very good care of what they did have, and taught us by example, though never in words, the old philosophy of “use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without” of the Depression era, though Dad was just a newborn at the end of the Depression, and Mom wasn’t born yet. I have never been materialistic, but rather things that have sentimental significance are things I am most likely to have and treasure. I am glad of that because living in an old house as we raised our kids, it served me well, knowing how to use my creativity and initiative to make things look nice.
My mom has cried a million tears. She has the bluest eyes and they get even bluer when she cries. She and I both are criers and easily stressed. I joke that God can’t save all of our tears in His bottle, it wouldn’t be big enough, so He probably put hers and mine into a swimming pool or made a lake. Not “cry over a Hallmark commercial” criers, but rather “we care soooo much “criers’. And I’m not saying that’s a virtue. Because boundaries, you know? There are times Mom will agonize over something going on with me more than I do. But then, living so far away, she can’t know when something is resolved until I tell her, so she doesn’t know when she can stop worrying. She used to ask me to call her frequently on my trips up there to see her, until I pointed out that I have a husband who has taken care of me just fine for 21 years and not to mention God. Worrying is not a compulsory obligation, but that vein of high expectations came down through the ancestral DNA to me, so I understand. Luckily I got a “quit worrying” gene from my Dad to counter it, though I only discovered this relatively recently in life. Mom has higher expectations for herself than of anyone else, and her motto is, “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right”!
One thing I do know, everything Mom has done in regards to her family, she has done in love. She cares. It was a great childhood in my home with her as a Mom. You have to get to be about my age before you realize just how bad some kids have it in their home life. I was very blessed to be born to the parents God gave me.
I heard a poem a few years back that I can very much relate to, and I’m sure Mom can too. Mom, thanks for all the love, all the sacrifice, all the love, all the cleaning, and cooking, and all the love, even when I’m mean. I love you back!
Why God Gave Women Tears
Why God Gave Women Tears…Author Unknown…
sent to me by my Scottish friend, Oonagh…a gift to give every women…Julie
A little boy asked his mother
“Why are you crying?”
“Because I’m a woman”,
she told him.
“I don’t understand”,
His mum just hugged him
and said, “And you never
Later the little boy asked
his father, “Why does mother seem to cry for
“All women cry for no reason”,
was all his dad could say.
The little boy grew up and became a man,
still wondering why women cry.
Finally he put in a call to God; and when God got on
the phone, he asked, “God, why do women cry so
“When I made the woman she had to be special.
I made her shoulders strong enough to carry the weight of the
world; yet, gentle enough to give comfort
I gave her an inner strength to endure childbirth and
the rejection that many times comes from her children.
I gave her a hardness that allows her to keep going
when everyone else gives up, and take care of her
family through sickness and fatigue without
complaining. .I gave her the sensitivity to love her children under
any and all circumstances, even when her child has
hurt her very badly. I gave her strength to carry her man through his
faults and fashioned her from his rib to protect his
heart. I gave her wisdom to know that a good man never
hurts his woman, but sometimes tests her strengths and
her resolve to stand beside him unfaltering.
And finally, I gave her a tear to shed
This is hers exclusively to use whenever it is
The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears,
the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her
hair. The beauty of a woman must be seen in her eyes,
because that is the doorway to her heart – the place
where love resides.
All I can add to that is a big “AMEN!”
Mom memories: A red cordury dress with huge oval mother-of-pearl buttons she made for me, and I wore to my first day of first grade,
Coming in from school after having spent months on making a Christmas wreath on a styrofoam base for Home EC, that had gotten broken in half, and making it inside the back door just before the tears came, and she rushed right to me with a hug and reassurance that she knew how we could fix it.
Walking around the old K-mart in Petersburg, with Grandma Ward and Mom, eathing popcorn, shopping for school clothes or a new Easter dress,
Making me sleep in hair rollers, ugh!!!
The time when she met my firstborn!
Getting fussed at to “keep it down” when at grandmas playing with my cousins and brothers, she was trying to be stern and serious but the case of giggles we had was no match for a whipping. I think she got down to my little brother before she just couldn’t hold her “stern face” any longer and saying “STOP laughing I am TRYIHNG to spank you!! And we all just kept laughing. Grandma’s walls had no insulation so noise carried all over the house.
A trip to West Virginia without Dad, Mom was driving with all four of us kids in the car. One of my brothers was picking on me relentlessly and she kept telling us to keep it down because we were on a stretch that was pretty hilly and windey, and where police often set up radar, so her nerves were a little worked up, Finally I fussed at my brother out pretty loud, and she turned around and slapped ME, when I was the one getting harrassed back there. But I am sure it was a slap I had coming for something sooner or later so no biggie!
All of the family sitting in the den in the house at 20th, watching television when it was time for me to take my bath, and getting mad at Mom, I walked out the door to the den, turned around and stuck my tongue out at her, but not factoring in the mirror on the door! So, yep, busted!
Mom on her hands and knees in the back yard scrubbing out the swimming pool liner with bleach, so we could swim in clean water!
Mom on her knees scrubbing bathtubs. Mom mopping. Mom sewing,
Here’s one from the way-back files: Sitting in a galvanized tub on the counter in Grandma and PawPaw’s house, mom scrubbing behind my ears. The same house where the bullfrogs in the pond made such a racket I was scared to go to the outhouse at night for fear I might step on one.
And so many more!
Happy Mother’s Day Mom! I love you!