To honor my mom on Mother’s Day (this week) and her 90th birthday (next week) I offer the following tribute:
Although my opinion could be considered biased, I think my Mom is the greatest Mom ever. Because she always worked outside the home, today’s women may applaud her as being “liberated”, but Mom would never agree. She could not be considered a “career woman” for her only career was her family. She worked for her family, not for herself.
For a seven year period, she somehow raised three of us kids by herself. Her typical day, as I imagine it, would consist of getting us up, fixing us some breakfast, sending us off to school (except for me when I was a preschooler – she had to send me in a taxi to my baby-sitter’s) and then, because she did not drive (and we didn’t have a car anyway), walking a mile to Murphy’s 5 & 10 to work for minimum wage. After work, she would walk back home, fix supper, and tend to whatever needs a four year-old boy and his nine and eleven year old sisters may have. I never remember being deprived of anything in those days. And I never remember hearing Mom complain. And I don’t remember, although Janice and Mary Lynne have often talked about it, my sisters dressing me up like a sweet little baby girl and parading me around the neighborhood. That must be one of those memories that you subconsciously block.
I vividly remember a time when I defiantly told my Mom, “No!” Mom snatched me up and sat me on a kitchen chair. She knelt directly in front of me and looked me in the eye. Her face was red and her jaw was set, but her voice was even and firm, “Joey, you can say many things to me but one thing that I won’t allow you to say is ‘No.’ Do you understand?” Mom had my attention. She was mad and I understood. In fact, I understood so well that I never told her “no” again.
Lesson on Grace
I always have respected Mom so much that I didn’t want to fail her. It was later, in my high school years that she taught me the lesson of grace that we passed on to our own kids. Being a normal teen age boy, I did many things that were wrong. And I didn’t want Mom to find out. It wasn’t so much that I dreaded punishment as that I didn’t want to disappoint her. For example, although Mom taught us to always tell the truth, I remember clearly a time when I told her that I was going to the library to study and I went instead to the pool hall. Although it seemed like I got away with it, my conscience continued to bother me. I started avoiding Mom, and I was not able to talk freely to her the way I used to. As usual, she knew me and she knew the solution. “Joe”, she began, “I’ll make you a deal. If you do something wrong, and if you come to me and tell me about it, then you will not get in trouble. But if you don’t tell me, and I find out, then you had better expect punishment.” Mom was telling me was that I could be forgiven for anything; no strings attached, if only I would be man enough to admit my wrong. I wish I could say that I always went to Mom and confessed when I messed up, but it would not be the truth. However, I did take advantage of the offer occasionally, and I can still remember how wonderful it was to get my guilt off my chest and to be forgiven. It was a lesson that is still applicable to my walk with God today, for He makes the same offer. And because this plan has been endorsed by both God and Mom, Janice and I have made the same offer to our kids.
But I am getting ahead of myself. Mom met Dad when I was seven and we all got married. We now had a big family (four girls and two boys) and a big house. And Mom kept working. As the switchboard operator at Illinois Power, she could be conveniently reached by any kids with real or imaginary problems. Chestnut 2-1085 was not Illinois Power to us, it was Mom. Why she didn’t go off the deep end when a voice on the other end would say, “Mom, Joey is riding my bicycle.” or “Mom, I can’t find my books.” or “Mom, what’s for supper?”, I don’t know. But she always seemed to find time to deal with our emergencies.
Life started getting tough for Mom in her mid forties. After a miscarriage and then Robyn (our “baby” sister), she had cancer and a resulting mastectomy, and then still another miscarriage. Still, I never heard her complain. Mom was 44 when Robyn was born and she was only 19 when Janice was born. She is a remarkable woman anyway, but having two children twenty-five years apart puts her in a class by herself. Although she continued to work, she was always first and foremost a mother. She once calculated that she had children in school for 43 consecutive years. That is what I would call being a mother.
Staying the course
I think Mom’s greatest gift to us is her steady way of staying the course. By her life, she has instilled in us the quality of perseverance and a spirit of tenacity. She taught us by her life that there is no time to be a quitter, no matter what life brings you. What if you are forty-six years old and don’t know how to drive? You learn. A miscarriage? Just keep trying. Cancer? Have an operation. Pray. Hang in there. Life goes on. Your husband have a stroke? Love him and care for him. Your husband die? You live on. No excuses. No rationalizations. No complaining. No pity parties. Just never quit.
Her kids turned out pretty good if I say so myself. We have had our problems, but we have stayed the course because Mom stayed the course. We have held some good jobs and some not so good jobs, but we have all worked steadily because Mom showed us how. Mom’s kids are involved in educating the next generation; caring for others when they go to the hospital, building roads and bridges to get them there safely and insuring them so they get the best treatment. Mom’s kids volunteer their time for various civic and church activities. Her kids have brought other kids into the next generation, and even to the next generation after that. I think this world is a better place because of Mom’s kids. And I think that Mom deserves the credit. She showed us how.
I feel at this point in my life that I can handle about anything that life throws at me. I am not being cocky, for I know full well my own weaknesses and shortcomings. But Mom has paved the way. Through thick and thin, her courage has been tested and proven. We don’t know the future, but we know that we can stand tall and look it in the eye. To do less would be to let Mom down, and I am not going to do that.
Thank you Mom!
Great Reading Recommendations
Do Your Friends Share Your Financial Values? by Cool to be Frugal
Inherited IRAs – Please Avoid This Mistake by Wealth Pilgrim
14 FREE Ways to Spend a Friday Night (FUN Included!) by Canadian Finance Blog
Are Your Friends Influencing Poor Spending Habits? by Single Guy Money
8 Questions for the Constantly Broke by Watson Inc
4 Real Reasons the Economy Won’t Recover Until 2011 by Smarter Spend
Picking Yourself Back Up Again by Beating Broke
Most People Who Tell You They Don’t Want to be Wealthy Are Lying by My Journey to Millions
Choosing Between 30 Year Mortgage Rates and 15 Year Mortgage Rates at Good Financial Cents
No Fee IRA with Lending Club at Consumer Boomer
Joe elsewhere on the blog o sphere
Check out my post 6 Financial Lessons From Johnny Appleseed at Christian PF
I have participated in the following Carnivals this week:
Best of the Best in Money and Personal Finance Carnival hosted by Len Penzo dot com Whoo Hoo!
And the rest:
Money Hacks Carnival hosted by Nerd Wallet
Yakezie Carnival hosted by Little House in the Valley