Letter to the Editor

Remember Mom

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dear Editor,

What is your first memory of your mother?

I was about three. Ahhh, the warm, safe, secure feeling of being wrapped in a blanket watching Mom make breakfast for Dad in the cold dark mornings of the winter of '58, failing asleep, then miraculously awakening a few hours later in my bed.

I remember at 4 years old under the shadow of the East Water Tower, walking to the corner grocery. While it was only a few blocks away, it was still a pretty good walk for Mom carrying sacks of groceries with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old in tow ... only one family car in those days, and dad needed it for work.

I remember the taxi cab giving us a ride, if we had a doctor's appointment, etc. I remember moving from East Fourth to Missouri Avenue in about 1960 ... and Mom making donuts, cookies, cakes, pies, canning, pickling, cooking a full breakfast, dinner and supper, gardening,washing clothes with a washboard and wringer washing machine, hanging clothes on the outdoor clothesline in the summer, and the inside clothesline in the basement in the winter.

Ironing all of our clothes, the sheets, and the pillow cases, constantly vacuuming, dusting, washing dishes, ironing, mowing the lawn, driving to the grocery when Dad was finally able to buy an old Ford pickup for work, sewing patches on the knees of our jeans, ironing, folding the hem up on our clothes and sewing a new hem -- one that could be let down as we grew into our clothes; scrubbing the floors on her hands and knees. Did I mention ironing? Seems Mom was always ironing.

Teaching the four of us how to dress, make our beds, brush our teeth, use the bathroom, how to take a bath, how to wash your hands, table manners, manners in general, which fork to use for what, how to set a table, fixing all of our cuts and scrapes, trips to the dentist, and the doctor's office, sitting up with us when we were sick, all four of us; teaching us to iron our clothes, how to do laundry, how to cook, and clean, and wash dishes, and the proper way to fold each particular piece of laundry and put it away, and of course church on Sunday.

Mom still irons the pillow cases and still keeps her house spotless, although, thank goodness, she now employs a part time domestic engineer, whenever he's not catching flies in his recliner or attracting flies at the sale barn.

Not wishing to delve into any deft social commentary on being and acting poor, I often wonder at some of the newer generation(s) that can barely do laundry, have dishwashers (and still have dirty dishes in the sink), wouldn't know which end of an iron to grab hold of, let alone know that you have to plug it in, probably have never even seen a sewing machine except in an antique store; most certainly have never scrubbed anything on their hands and knees, and all the while maintaining the impeccable manners of a prairie rattler.

I guess each generation gets more spoiled than the last, and I'm sure my great grandmother probably thought my mom was spoiled ... perhaps it's for the best. I mean ... I'm sure my mom would rather not have had to endure the hardships she endured, and when mom was a farm wife, things were harder still. Regardless, I and my siblings appreciate everything Mom did for us and for our family.

Mom always felt that: if you are clean, spit-polished, well coiffed, well-mannered, respectful, and most of all well ironed, it was immaterial that you had nothing; no one would be able to tell that you were poor. Mom always made us look and act like we were the richest kids in town ... and thanks to Mom, I think we were.

"Thanks" just seems so inadequate."

Ken O' Dea

Commerce Township,


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