My Mother, My Grandmother, Some Cherished Memories

3 12 2007

My mother is a native of the small town that I live in.  She married my dad, a soldier, in 1943.  After he got out of the service, they moved to Dayton, Oh.  After that, they ended up in Lansing, Mi. , where my mother taught school and put my Dad through The Ford Motor Institute. 

My Dad loved material things.  He just could never seem to get enough of them.  However, by l960–he’d lost everything.  Starting over for him was tough, and he ended up leaving our family.  Some very close friends helped my mother pay for a summer course at Wayne State University, to renew her teacher’s certificate.  It was the first time that we had a full time baby sitter.  We must have driven her a bit mad–because she didn’t last.  At any rate, I admire my mother , who had been a homemaker for many years, doing what she had to do to support us.

I have three brothers and I don’t imagine we were the easiest children to care for from a sitter’s point of view.  We had a big rental two story house with many places to hide from the sitter.  Mom managed to keep a sitter for us for her first year back to teaching.  It was mainly my youngest brother who had to be cared for all day.  The rest of us just tangled with the sitter, until Mom got home from teaching.

It must have been a hard year for my mother.  It was hard for us, too.  I cried myself to sleep most nights.  I often stayed home from school because my stomach hurt.  I think my mother saw the handwriting on the wall.  She knew she needed help.  One day, she announced that we would be moving to Kentucky, when school ended. 

My grandmother, who became a widow during the Great Depression ,had made a living by turning her large home into apartments.  The plan was for us to live in the upstairs apartment.  We were all excited to move to Kentucky.  I had never seen my grandmother to remember her.  I have pictures of her holding me, but I had no remembrance of her as a person. 

We boarded a train in Detroit one afternoon, and had the adventure of our little lives.  I remember the train stopping in Chicago.  We ate at the soda fountain.  Mother bought us each our favortite comic books.  Then we boarded the train for the drive to Western, Ky.  We arrived at 8:30 a.m.–being met at the station by mom’s brother and sister.  Grandmother had a big breakfast waiting for us.  She served us pancakes.  The next step in the plan was to live in grandmother’s apartment for the summer.  There was a young married couple who were still living upstairs.

We had been living with grandmother for just a week–when she announced that we would all being doing chores.  She had a rotation for us to wash dishes.  The boys had to keep the yard up.  I had to learn to iron.  Plus, on Saturdays, I had to clean the formal living room.  Mother had never pushed to many chores on us–so it was quite an adjustment.

Thankfully, grandmother had a lady that she sat with each evening.  When she left in the taxi cab each night–we kind of breathed a sigh of relief.  We promptly got a little wild.  When September came, we moved upstairs.  I kind of thought grandmother would slack up a little –but she didn’t.  The chores continued.  Grandmother had survived two heart attacks.  In those days, stair climbing was frowned on.  However, if a Billy Graham crusade was on television–she climbed the stairs and took over our television.  Furthermore, she made us watch it with her.  We just groaned!

Mother taught school for the rest of my growing up years.  She was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease when I was just 15.  It didn’t stop her from teaching.  She struggled to use her body.  She was very slow in all of her movements.  When she got home from teaching during those years, she would often collapse.  To this day, I can’t imagine how she kept up with lesson plans and grading papers.  She taught school until my last year in college.  Finally, she had to retire. 

I wasn’t the best daughter.  I expected more of my mother.  I stayed in my own little narcistic world most of high school.  I attended out local community college and gradually began to wake up to the needs of my mother and grandmother.  Grandmother had broken her hip when I was a senior in high school.  She was never able to walk without a walker again.  My last year at home–I gave up most of my activities and devoted myself to Mom and Grandmother.  I wish I had done this sooner ,as it turned out to be the last time I ever had such an opportunity.

My mom was a very gentle, kind person.  She rarely raised her voice.  With grandmother’s help–she was able to make a living for our family.  Grandmother took over the reigns and taught each of us how important daily discipline is.  The roots didn’t take right away.   Today, however, I’m grounded in all the grandmother taught me.  Not that I’m perfect.  No, but I try to do my chores first before pleasure.  I can still hear grandmother giving me a little lecture.  That seemed to be one of her favorite pass times.

How fortunate my brothers and I were to have these two wonderful women make sure that we grew up knowing that life is difficult and has many challenges.  My mother and grandmother made sure we attended church.  Those roots stuck also.  Grandmother died when I was 25.  Mother died of breast cancer when I was just 33.  I carry these two ladies with me in my heart each day.  I cherish their memories and all that they taught the four of us children. 

After mother died, I longed to return to my home town.  Again, I wish that I had done that earlier.  My husband was never open to returning.  Something happened in his heart, after mom died.  It was actually his idea to move back home.  Our children were 10,9,7, and 6–when we returned to Western , Ky.  This has been a wonderful place for our children to grow up. 

Remembering how I was raised- -we expected much from our children.  We were a paper route family for 10 years.  Each of the children started learning responsibility with a paper route.  As they got older, they moved on to different part time jobs.  Today,  each of my children have a strong work ethic.  Grandmother carried on her work through my husband and me.

I hope you enjoyed my memories!

God Bless each of you!




One response

14 12 2007

Oh mom! How wonderful to read these memories of your! I am so glad that you wrote them! I feel that I know my grandmother and great-grandmother much better now. Love, Maria

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