It’s another Mother’s Day.
My mom died when I was 21. Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of pictures of her from when I knew her. She liked to take the pictures so she was rarely in front of the camera. However, I have lots of pictures of her when she was younger.
She grew up an only child living with her parents in a house that was built on property grandma’s family owned. When one of grandma’s siblings would marry, they’d be given a piece of the farm to build a home. My grandpa didn’t farm, but did have a small garden in the back of the house. The basement was always full of canned goods grandma and mom put up every year.
According to her diary that I’m lucky to have, Mom took cooking classes after graduating from high school. She also spent a lot of time going to town with grandma to shop for fabric or other necessities. She enjoyed going to the movies with friends, and she has several boyfriends. She’s around 17 or 18 in this picture. She dressed so stylish!
In 1935, at the age of 19, she married Dad. Here is their wedding picture with Margaret and Albert Hillenbrand, her cousin and her cousin’s husband.
After the wedding, Mom and Dad lived with her parents until they were able to build a house next door. They lived in that house until I was born in 1950. Dad told me often about how he liked his in-laws, but didn’t want to live next door to them forever.
Here she is in 1941 with my oldest sister, Martha. I love this picture. It shows that big beautiful smile I remember.
This is the last picture of Mom. Dad had won a trip to Hawaii in 1972 through his work.
They had such a wonderful trip, but evidently she was sick and kept it from us. More about that later.
She was a great seamstress, and made most of my clothes. Of course, back then we wore dresses most of the time. She’d buy a pattern, and make me four or five dresses using different fabrics. When prom time came, we’d go out shopping. I’d try on lots of dresses until we found one we liked. We’d leave the store empty handed, and head directly to Grant’s Department Store to buy fabric to make it for me. I was always amazed how she could look at a dress, go home, and sew it up.
I could never get her to teach me how to sew. She said she just didn’t have the patience. She was self-taught, and she thought that her youngest daughter could learn that way too.
She not only sewed my clothes and what she wore, but all of my doll’s clothes. Here are some of her Barbie clothes. They are reminders of her because they are all made from dress scraps. After all these years, I have a hard time getting rid of them.
Here is a picture of my brother and sisters. I’m the youngest one. I have doll dresses made from the same fabric Mari and I are wearing! Since I was the youngest – my sister was four years older – I got to wear the same fabric dress again when I grew into it!
But besides sewing, she went to bat for me. I wanted contact lenses. Dad was dead set against them. For some reason he didn’t believe anyone wore them including my friend Carole. I wanted this beautiful winter coat. Dad was against it. Mom made it happen. She had an independent spirit that was instilled in me. She was always encouraging me to live my own life before settling down into a marriage.
When Mom and Dad returned from Hawaii she went to the doctor for a spot on her leg. I took off work so I could take her to a couple appointments. Now I’m wondering why I didn’t think that was odd since they had a second car, and she could have driven herself. I remember having to trade shifts at the telephone company since the appointment wasn’t planned. We were sitting outside in the backyard after one of the appointments when she mentioned how she would never see her grandchildren. I thought she was saying this because none of my siblings had children, and I wasn’t married or even seeing kids in my future. I told her not to hold her breathe waiting for me to provide them. I had no idea that she was actually telling me right then and there she was dying. And now I know that she wanted me to take her to the doctor because she was scared, and knew what was to come. Thinking back now, she probably had already been to the doctor before they went on the trip, and had scheduled this appointment at that time. Within three weeks of returning from the trip, she was in the hospital intensive care unit, and then gone.
Unlike others close to me who all died after having long illnesses, Mom was not sick. Prior to leaving for their trip, she had told me about how she was going to help me decorate my new apartment that I had moved into several months earlier. I had been out of the house for over a year, living with my roommate Vicki during our last year of college. She had been opposed to me moving from home, so that year prior to her death we were not close. However, when I graduated from college, my roommate left town, and I moved into an apartment near her, she seemed to be okay with me being out of the house. I remember really looking forward to her helping me with that project. It would be something fun we could do together.
But that wasn’t to be. Mom was not perfect. She expected a lot of me. Maybe she did of the others, but all I remember is her expectations of me. I didn’t want her to leave so early – she was only 57 – but I remember feeling a lot of expectations vanish once the shock and mourning of her death had passed.
I wish we could have had the time to become friends as Dad and I did. I used to tease her about her fabric shopping. When we returned from shopping at Grant’s Dad would asked us about the the trip. I’d show Dad what she did at the store by pretending to be looking through every piece of fabric. I just couldn’t believe how long she’d spend in the fabric section. Oh, how the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! I wish I could have shared my love of fabric and dyeing with her. Now that I’ve been sewing, I would have loved to have been able to get some of her tips. I’d also would have liked to talked to her more about her dad and his family.
So on this Mother’s Day I am remembering Mom and missing her.
Happy Mother’s Day!