She was born to a woman that was in her second marriage. Her mother was a bit older than her father when they married. She was his only daughter but there were many more children already from her first marriage. The youngest of those siblings was already 16 when she came along so there weren’t many playmates her age at the time.
Her father was a lumberjack that had recently immigrated to the United States. He taught her how to work hard for what you have. He supported the family the only way he knew how, hard work. Almost 9 years after her birth, she lost her mother to illness just before her own birthday.
Her father was not prepared to care for children on his own so she went to live with her older siblings but often changing from one house to another and not settling in to call it her own.
When she was 12, her father remarried and they took her back into their home. She was never treated as being good enough by the new wife but was told to call her mother and have respect for her. The wife would often seem jealous of the attention she would get from her father and so she felt pressured to find a way to leave home.
She did want a family and that is what she prayed for. She wanted a lot of children to raise and love as she knew she had a lot of love to give. She learned how to love from her birth mother and what it meant to truly give for your child.
Her sister (16 years older) and her brother-in-law introduced her to someone, he seemed a bit of a loner. She liked him but didn’t think it would turn into much. They ended up getting married a little while later. She left school for him and became a housewife. They had their first two children before leaving the state and traveling thousands of miles away to live.
Before long they added 5 more children to the family and she couldn’t have loved them any less. Yet, her husband soon passed from illness also and so again she was alone. This time, she was alone, 32 years old and the caretaker of seven children. She had left school for marriage so she did not have her diploma. She had only briefly had a waitress position years ago and that wasn’t for long since her husband was the jealous type.
She learned to drive, enrolled back in school and fought to keep her family together. The state had stepped in trying to tell her that she couldn’t take care of all of her children. She fought and she proved them wrong. She and her children were not separated but instead stayed together in the little house that she and her husband had mortgaged a few years earlier.
It was hard but there were times of joy and wonder as she and the children seemed to grow up together at times. She showed them that she was a fighter and a very hard worker that had an unlimited amount of love for her children.
It was that love for her children that she pushed aside her own health needs and she too would pass due to illness at the age of 61. You might not think this is young but as you reach closer to the age yourself, you realize just how young she was.
She is my mother, her passing does not stop her from being my mother so that is correctly in the present tense. She showed me how to keep the family afloat and although we might not have money, we do have love. I live in that very house and I walk the floors feeling her presence sometimes and smelling cigarette smoke. My father was a smoker so that could be.
She is my hero and if I can be a third of who she was on this earth, then I am blessed. I have never met anyone that has gone through what she did and I don’t believe that I ever will.
I love you mom.