A Circle of Life
My mom will be 96 years old this year. We’re guessing she’ll still be with us on her birthday. She’s always been a very determined woman. She grew up in a small coal mining community in Pennsylvania. She had eight siblings and the family lived in a four room house with no electricity or running water. The outhouse was fifty feet out the back door.
There, she attended a one-room schoolhouse through the 8th grade. When she wasn’t in school, she was helping her mother, caring for younger siblings, washing clothes by hand, hanging them out on the line to dry, washing dishes, and cleaning house—oftentimes before going to school, these chores needed to be done.
With no further education, my mom left home as a young teen and moved to New York where she lived with an older sister and did housekeeping for rich city folks. She eventually moved to Connecticut, where she got a job working in a factory. She became friends with a co-worker and met my dad through mutual friends.
My brother was born shortly before my dad enlisted in the Nave during World War II. While my dad was gone, my mom worked full-time and shared the care of her young son with her youngest sister who had come to live with them.
After the war, I was born. My mom was able to stay home for a few years, caring for us children, cooking, cleaning, sewing, and being a typical ‘50s housewife. When I was almost five, our family bought our first house. Shortly after we moved in, my dad was diagnosed with cancer. My mom’s happiness crashed around her, as she struggled to keep our home, care for my dying father, and deal with two ungrateful children. It took five long, hard years for my dad to die, and it took its toll on my mom, emotionally, financially, and physically.
Somehow, my mother managed to love and support us, despite our rebellious teen years. No matter what we did, no matter how far we strayed, Mom was there. She held tightly to the reins, unfortunately, which only served to make us rebel even more. As a single mom, she really had no choice, but we were too young to understand.
Eventually, my brother and I grew into adults. Now my brother and I have our own families. He married young. I married in my thirties. He has two boys and four granddaughters. I have a son and a daughter. My son and his wife have a three year old daughter, and my daughter and her husband are expecting their first child, a boy, in June.
As a parent, myself, I was finally able to realize what my mother went through as she tried to raise her children. I’ve had it easy, with two wonderful children and a supportive husband. My mom battled depression, two wild kids, and single parenting, all while trying to hold down a job and maintain a home.
Mom, I see your life coming full circle as your body becomes more frail and your mind less sharp. You have lost words, the ability to walk, and the memories you once cherished. Thanks, Mom, for all you’ve done for us throughout your long lifetime. Not only your children, but your grandchildren and your great grandchildren have benefited from your love and assistance. We cherish each day we have with you, for we know not how much longer you’ll be here.
Love Delivery, coming August 2011
Lady-in-Waiting, coming November 2011Mir