Today, my mother would have been 72 years old.  Born in LaCygne, Linn, Kansas and was killed in Springboro, Warren, Ohio in a car accident rushing, as usual, to work at Cassano’s Pizza. They needed her at a Dayton location, not her usual place in Franklin. It was basically a dead end job, one she worked for a great number of years, with few raises [usually about a nickel on the hour, if she got one at all] or a bonus of any kind. A job she kept primarily to support 5 children on her own.

She married twice, both marriages to alcoholics. The why on that I’ll never understand.  She had 5 kids with my dad [a roofer and over-the-road truck driver], and gaining a step-daughter Linda Ann, with her second husband, Bill, an extremely stern man with major issues on life. Bill worked at a company in Middletown, Butler, Ohio for years; now out of business due to Middletown’s failing economy as so many companies are today; hardly seemed worth all the effort that he had put into it.

Both my father and step-father are past away. I can’t really understand what would make my mother fall in love with them; they were nothing alike except for being heavy drinkers. I guess it was the bad-boy effect or something??? I really stopped analyzing it years ago. Many women fall for the wrong man all the time. I’m just glad I took lessons and learned from her mistakes. My husband has never smoked or had a drink in his life. He is the best man I have ever known; Bar None! I’m sure if you ask our children, he is the best father they could have ever asked for. Better than any man alive or dead.

I have so many wonderful memories of my mother. She took a firm hand when needed and stepped back when she thought it better. She loved to cook and can, but her passion in life was gardening. She would rather be in her garden as to be anywhere. I can remember her having to work 12 hour shifts and then go to her garden shortly after she arrived home. She had a strong presence in our home, she always let us kids make our own mistakes. For some of her children; too many if you ask me. But who’s counting?

It’s not clear as to why people blame the parents for the sins of their children or visa versa. I believe we are all responsible for our own actions.  I’m not saying that upbringing does play a part, but when do we step up and take responsibility for our own actions? Take what they have taught us and make to most with what we can.

I’m trying really hard to remember the little things now, like the way she dressed and why, and the way the smelled. She had a tiny bottle of perfume that sat on her dresser for years, a gift from someone in the family, I think, too expensive to wear, except for the most important of special occasions. So strong that whenever you opened the bottle the entire room smelled like the contents, as if it was just wiped under your nose. She always said, just a drop is all you need. And, I’d reply, I’d hope so… shew… LOL

She loved peonies and to grow her own grapes to make jelly. Canning was a sport at our house. She loved to can and freeze vegetables. I can remember making hundreds of jars of pickles and jellies, while cutting dozens of ears of corn off the cob to freeze. Cutting up bushel baskets of peaches to freeze and fires in our yard with my Grandma Dorothy and mom just laughing and having a great time boiling a galvanized tub full of corn. My fingers were so sore and burned from that corn, I’m not sure how or why it was worth it, but she did love to do it.

She loved to visit family as well or to have them come by. People used to enjoy stopping by for coffee and just to chat. My mom never carried tales as she called it. She was better than Vegas. She would get so mad at people for over sharing or carrying tales as she put it. If she talked about anyone, they were either in the room, in big trouble or on their way to the hospital. I only wish, she would have shared more. My dad certainly had no secrets or bothered to keep them a secret. I find it funny now when I go to a family reunion of sorts, how often I get shushed. I’m thinking when or why did this become a secret? Then I have to laugh.

I can remember making Easter Bunny cakes with her every year and how she would try to think of new ways to make it look different each and every year. She would talk about her childhood and how her mom decorated food when she was a young girl. Grandma Elvia, she said, always piped the yolks back in to her deviled eggs and made her bunny cakes fancier than anyone else. I’m sure it was just my Mom being biased about her Mom’s cooking; none better. I only wish I had repeated this event each year with my kids. I don’t like the mess, so they rarely even decorated Easter Eggs at our house. I’m happy to report that my daughter-in-law is a big fan of the bunny cake and has carried it on with my grandchildren. So it’s not a dying art after all. My daughter Mandy is big on making things with her kids and everything they do is photographed and placed in a LIFE book. Thank God that she didn’t keep one for herself. She’d remember that she didn’t get to do most of that stuff when she lived at home. Brandy, is a little more like me… she don’t like the mess either, but she still does a lot of messy projects with the girls. I know they will remember their mothers with the same love and gratitude as I.

My mom always let us decorate the Christmas tree… every year, she never touched it. No matter what or how we decorated it, she left it as was. Something, I wish I had done with my kids. I was always, very persnickety when it came to my tree. For me, it was the tree that made my Holiday, it had to be perfect. One of the biggest mistakes, I ever made in this life, was to re-decorate the tree after my daughter Mandy had put it all together. I was sick and she did it for me. It was beautiful. Mandy being a minimalist didn’t see the need to put all of the ornaments on it, as I had always done. So I added them. I was wrong and for that do ask her forgiveness.

If the tree wasn’t perfect, I hated to go about the usual Christmas stuff; it just ruined my Christmas, I have no idea why??? As if the tree has anything to do with the reason for Christmas.  Somehow it just does for me and it still does a little more than I care to admit. Now since I’ve had to go to this tiny tree and leave most of my ornaments in the box… I haven’t enjoyed my tree at all. Then I remember what the trees looked like whenever I was a young girl and then say, “I’m very lucky to have such a beautiful array of ornaments to choose from.”

My mom was a sweet and wonderful woman. She didn’t deserve the men in her life. I only wish she would have had the fortitude to walk away from them sooner. I wish she could have had an easier life than she did. My mom, to my knowledge, never received real flowers, ever. Not to my memory anyway, I could be wrong, but I don’t think so. The flowers in our vases were all plastic. Yes, how awful, plastic flowers. Yuck. I’m not saying she didn’t enjoy them, because I know she did. Sad to think about really, but I guess it was a sign of the times.

When you’re a woman, you can’t really boast of great deeds that you have done, maybe one woman in a hundred-thousand has laid claim to some sort of great world changing event, which she may or may not have under her belt, but to most women our children are our WORLD. To my mom, her children was just that, her world. Whenever we made mistakes, little or big [royally screwed up], no matter, she always to our part. Right or wrong, she stood by us. Isn’t that what a mother is supposed to do? Protect her children at all cost? Why she had 5 kids, I’ll never know, because she certainly could not afford them, so it must have been out of sheer love and the need to be loved and for no other reason I can think of. If you wait until you can afford children, you’ll probably never have them. I guess that’s just as well. Because a mother is a mother, she finds a way to care for her children.

That is what my mother did, and what I did, and what my daughter’s are doing. So with tears in my eyes and love in my heart, I say to her, I love you Mom. Thanks for always being there for me, Thanks for making me the person I am today, with the ability to be strong, to stand alone or to be apart of a loving family, by my choice. I lost you far too young, but you are never far from me. I will be putting real flowers on your grave today; I only wish I could hand them to you in person. I will stand at your grave side thinking of all the things I should had said, things a child never says to their parent because they are just kids. Never knowing how fast it all goes away.

I’m not going to read this and re-read this to make sure I don’t have any mistakes or said something wrong; I really don’t care about that at this moment. I will spend my day, thinking of your life, your home, and how much you loved us. I only hope that when I’m gone, my children will know who I was, what I believed and why. It’s true that I’m no one special, but I hope I am to them and that will be my life and legacy. Just to know you were loved by someone, is what this life is all about.

Thank you again Mom, for giving me life; a life well lived.

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