A Mother’s Day To Remember!

 

My Mom and Dad had lived out their first 35 years residing in northern Minnesota… Iron Range country. Following their nuptials in the waning days of August 1948, their honeymoon route to their Michigan destination had spanned approximately 1288km (800mi). However, their long drive wasn’t entirely romantic, it involved an economically time sensitive issue, too. You see, at their journey’s end, the public school bells would soon be ringing… and a newly opened, teaching position already awaited Dad.

Both of my folks had wound up waving good-bye to parents, siblings, dear friends and old haunts. I do believe Dad had made the emotional adjustment far easier… or perhaps he had just been too overworked and under-appreciated by his new superintendent / boss to notice the social vacuum? As for Mom? Basing my observations upon my own first hand experiences, I can wholeheartedly attest to the fact that the mindlessness and drudgery associated with domestic duties usually leaves one far too many opportunities to ruminate and regret.

The sad situation… was (still is) how… from time immemorial… society has devalued teachers. Even when, prior to her first pregnancy, Mom had briefly taught in the same school system as her husband, their combined incomes still meant too little money to pay for what they deemed to be life’s “luxuries”. For example, they simply could not justify the cost of attending far away, family reunions. Hell, they even considered placing a long distance phone call to be living high off the hog. That fully explains why Mom and her family got in the habit of mailing letters to each other at least twice per month… with postage being only 4 cents it was the best way of staying in touch.

Sadder yet… is how such lifelong, monetary woes do tend to chronically persist… even in death. My folks’ need to economize had established a whole new meaning to the wedding vow, “till death do us part”. My Mom and Dad wound up interred in two separate, many miles apart, Minnesota family plots.

The saddest part of all… Since my three decades long retail “career” (sales / management) never had drawn the big bucks… at present… I, too, have experienced, first hand, the need for a barebones, belt tightening budget. To e.g. this further…

It’s now been 30 years since Dad passed on and 15 years since Mom died. And throughout this entire time, I’ve yet to justify taking on the added expense of traveling to pay my gravesite respects.

Of course, I’ve tried to be philosophical about it all. My consolation? Well…

The the light years immensity of our intergalactic universe, in comparison to the insignificance of that interstate distance of 1288km, will likely go unnoticed whenever I’m paying my respects to my folks from afar. To add a bit more spin, should not such remembrances prioritize the warm, qualitative feelings over the cold, quantitative statistics?

And… speaking of qualitative…

Because the very first Mother’s Day following my Mom’s passing on had occurred on Sunday, May 11, 2003, I was feeling strongly motivated on Friday, May 11, 2018 to pay my long distance respects. So, I opted to extend my morning constitutional… to power walk towards the very finest parkland my lifelong hometown has to offer… and I kid you not… it’s located right next-door to the cemetery.

For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with my past posts, to give you some sense of the splendor of this nature reserve, let me offer up this brief illustrative passage as it appeared in my April 18, 2016 blog, titled: A Sliver of Sunlight…

Though my words won’t do it full justice… we’re talking about 50 acres of rolling terrain, wetlands, nature trails and the calming “white noise” generated by a long winding river. This is the home turf for a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna… this serenity beckoning all free spirits to… wander beneath towering pines, elms, oaks and maples… traipse through fields of clover… behold a vast variety of wild flowers and groundskeeper planted perennials… hear the buzz of bees… the honks of geese and quacks of ducks… the birdcalls of sparrows, robins and countless other feathered species… eyewitness the occasional visiting deer, foxes and waddling woodchucks.

While some of you might call me spiritual… others could easily dismiss me as delusional. But, as far as I’m concerned, this park is akin to a mystical land where, on several occasions, I’ve experienced some of life’s “Oh Wow” moments.

I even interpret such events to have been my late Mother’s way of communing with me. It’s not just that these events DO occur, it’s how they all require such perfect astronomical and meteorological alignment and timing. These phenomena cannot possibly be mere happenstance. Allow me to relate my most recent experience…

My arrival had occurred twenty minutes into this past Friday’s sixth hour. Since the overnight overcast skies had persisted into the dawn, with no dew on the ground, I had found the conditions favorable for wandering throughout the park-grounds. Shortly before 7 a.m., just as I sat down on my favorite bench and had begun communing with Mom… just as I was facing northward and overlooking the river’s small waterfall… out of the corner of my left eye, all the sudden, I had noticed the pervasive, dismal, grey funk suddenly lightening and brightening up. I glanced westward and upward at precisely the right moment to behold a few stray sunbeams… notice how they had penetrated a very slender break in the cloud deck and woven just enough of their gleaming light to illuminate the treetops… just the treetops. And then?

Within sixty seconds of this light show’s onset, it had ended. Pivoting to quickly face the eastern skies, the thick grey clouded curtains had already closed, which confirmed no encore would be forthcoming. But… at the risk of repeating myself I now remind…

Should not such remembrances prioritize the warm, qualitative feelings over the cold, quantitative statistics?

And, I certainly could feel the warmth of my Mom’s love, everlasting, interwoven within those sunbeams. Most assuredly, this had been a Mother’s Day to remember!

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day 2016!

On this Mother’s Day, I lovingly dedicate that above William Wordsworth poem… present that video bouquet to my late Mom. After all, the daffodil had been her favorite spring flower. It has been a little more than 13 years since she passed away and while I am certain life eternal awaits us all… I believe I can still do one last thing to immortalize her life on Earth.

On this special day… I’d like to submit and commit my Mom’s Memoir to the realm better known as the World Wide Web.

Why? Because it has oft been said that nothing ever dies on the Internet… and in this context… I do love the sound of that sentiment.

The words that now follow are from the second half of the eulogy… which I had composed… which I had delivered at…

Mom’s Memorial Service… April 22, 2003 10 a.m.

To be with a loved one till the very end…

“makes us aware of the uniqueness of each individual in the vast sea of humanity. It makes us aware of our finiteness, our limited lifespan …in that brief time, most of us create and live a unique biography and weave ourselves into the fabric of human history.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

I’d like to now share my Mom’s unique biography… this is… this was her life.

Not many knew what her middle initial stood for… but Mom had kept her maiden name as part of her legal name generations before women’s liberation had made it commonplace.

Although I only knew her as a dedicated, stay at home Mom… she did spend several years teaching English and Literature in the public schools in Minnesota and briefly in our hometown. She then broadened the scope of her lesson plans to teach life’s lessons to my sister and me… when Dad and she felt raising a family was more important.

Mom was always there to cook our meals… pot roasts with browned potatoes, a Slovenian dish štrukle, breaded chicken and pancakes all being her specialties. She was an expert at canning corn on the cob, tomato sauce, as well as a jam… a unique, extremely tasty peach/pineapple conserve. She won numerous blue ribbons at the local fair, many a September.

But baking was where she really excelled… all those delectable breads, kuchens, poticas, chocolate cakes, apple pies, and Christmas doughnuts… some plain, others coated with sugar and cinnamon. I can still taste them… warm… literally melting in my mouth.

Mom also loved the outdoors… to be communing with God as she tended her mums, tulips, irises and daffodils. While others loathed them, she loved the dandelion… only cutting them down with her hoe after they went to seed. She and Dad kept our yard pesticide/herbicide free and nurtured the apple and pear trees they had planted as well as the five wild raspberry canes… that later proliferated into hundreds. They also raised tomatoes, green beans and leaf lettuce… that is… until rabbits moved in to harvest these crops first.

Before arthritic fingers limited her ability, Mom and Dad used to play a duet on our piano, a very spirited rendition of Five Foot Two, as well as her solo, Stardust, the latter with such emotion and passion there had to be a story she never revealed… perhaps of love lost… that so moved… so inspired her.

She despised TV, only really caring for Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire… gameshows she could play along with. Katherine Hepburn and Clark Gable were her favorite actors. She liked the slapstick humor of The Three Stooges and in the Home Alone films. The Big Band era of the thirties and forties provided her, her favorite music. But she did enjoy the early Beatles, as well.

Mom read the daily newspaper and was very upset with the injustices in our world. She was very opinionated and we had many lively discussions about current events. She also read the hundreds of books in her considerable home library… finishing, in her final weeks, Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipović.

Mom loved writing and kept a daily journal to chronicle her life’s experiences, never missing a day until she began ailing in her final months. She also recorded the daily weather statistics. She corresponded with her big sister, Justine… their exchanging letters two or three times per month for over forty years… up till just before Justine had preceded Mom in death.

Mom was an avid Scrabble and Cribbage player. She had been fortunate, one night, when Dad dealt to her the very rare, perfect twenty-nine hand. Aficionados of the game claim it to be a once in a lifetime event. Although I never had that luck when Mom and I played cards, she did deal me the next best… the twenty-eight hand… twice, over the years.

Well, twenty-nine hands are rare, as was the privilege of knowing my Mom. I’ve had much time over the last several days to sum up her nearly ninety years and the almost half a century that she was in my life. So I can now say this with certainty. The most important of life’s lessons my Sister and I ever received from our Mom, our mentor was… above all else… that love and caring is what really matters. Give and you will receive.

I now thank all of you @WordPress for attending today. I appreciate your indulging this (perhaps overly?) sentimental blogger. Be sure to remember your own Moms on this special day.