With Mother’s Day just a couple of days away, I have been thinking a lot about my mom. About the influence she had over my life and what she and daddy did so many years ago to drastically change the lives to two little girls. They truly were amazing people. What many people may not know, is that my mom was a pillar of strength and courage. She went through things in her life that would have broken many others, but she choose to use those experiences and setbacks as even more fuel for her desire to succeed and be her own woman. By the way…….you might as well go get a cup of coffee, because I suspect this is going to be a very long post……
My mother was born in 1915…….a time when little girls were taught to be young ladies who got married and took care of the home. My mother did not get that memo!
My mom faced adversity very early in life when she contracted polio as a toddler. She didn’t talk a lot about that time, but did tell us that she had to relearn how to walk all over again when she recovered. She carried some of the effects of her battle with polio with her through her entire 93 years of life. I loved hearing mom tell stories of you younger years and teen years. She definitely had an adventurous spirit and her stories about riding ponies in the mountain, being chased by Indians (no joke) and more tell me that she loved life and lived it to the fullest. After my mother graduated from high school, she decided to attend college and off to Washington State College (later named Washington State University) she went. She was the first woman to take an agriculture class at WSU (this was in the 30’s). Unfortunately my mother’s college days were cut short when she contracted Tuberculosis in her early 20’s. This is something else that she didn’t talk about a lot, but I do know that she was in and out of the hospital, battling the disease for much of her 20’s and was finally sent to Portland for a radical surgery to collapse one of her lungs in order to save her life. My mother lived most of her adult life with just one lung.
My mom and dad met shortly after she recovered from TB and he was a patient at the VA hospital in Walla Walla (he was injured in WWII). It didn’t take them long to realize that they were made for each other and they got married on August 15, 1945……..VJ (Victory over Japan) day. My mother did NOT fall into the traditional role of most wives of that time. She was an equal partner with my dad in pretty much everything they did. She and daddy had two girls, Linda and Molly, just 13 months apart. They also raised daddy’s two children from a previous marriage, Ginger and Max. Both of my parents had a deep love of children…….and throughout their marriage they had approximately 25 foster kids in their home, choosing to adopt my sister and myself when our biological mothers’ parental rights were terminated. During this time of raising kids, running a farm etc., my mom finished college and became a elementary school teacher. She actually was my 2nd grade teacher. The woman was driven, and once she set her sights on something, she went after it.
I often tell people that my mother was my coach and my dad was my cheerleader and this is so true. I didn’t realize it when I was young, but my mother started teaching me at a very early age, that I could do anything I wanted to do in life and be anything I wanted to be. She is the one who got me started in competitive public speaking. She is the one who would stay up many late nights with me helping me write my 4-H demonstrations. She is the one who made the coolest “Little Bo Peep” consume for me to wear for one of my demonstrations on caring for a bummer lamb. Yep, I had a real live lamb up there with me and yep, there were times when we needed the clean-up crew after the demonstration was complete. It is because of her support and coaching that I competed at the State competition every year that I was eligible. When I decided to join FFA, it was my mother who said “ask them if they have any public speaking competitions”…….and I still remember asking Mr. Clark that very question and having him hand me the FFA manual and turning to the FFA creed, he said “memorize this”…….I remember when I decided to attend WSU and major in Ag Ed…..mom didn’t say anything, but I could see it in her eyes…….she KNEW that as much as I loved FFA and everything that organization did for me, that my passion wasn’t teaching. She was so happy when I decided to change careers and go into TV/Radio broadcasting. I don’t think she expected me to go into sports broadcasting, but it was because of her that I did. I loved sports and even though more than one professor told me that he’d “never seen a woman go into sports broadcasting” (remember this was in the 80’s), I had a stubborn determination to do just that. My mom is the one who gave me that determination…..because of the example she set for us girls. She really was all about ‘GIRL POWER” before that phrase was popular. She was a woman who knew who she was and wasn’t afraid to “break the mold” and do things her way. She was an amazing mother and I miss her greatly.
One thing that I realized during my Wings experience is that even though my parents are gone, they are always with me. They were absolutely amazing people. Were they perfect? NO. Nobody is perfect. But they did their best, and their best was pretty damn amazing.
So…….mom as you look down from Heaven, I want to say “thank you” for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for giving me the tools to face this life with all the joys and sorrows that come from a life well lived. Thank you for being a trailblazer and teaching me that I could be one too. Thank you for being you. I love you………Happy Mother’s Day!