My mother grew up on a numerous dirt farms in north central Illinois, the daughter of depression era farmers. By today’s standards, my mother’s family was poor, but they were never without. Here’s what my mom wrote a couple of years ago about her youth:
Growing up on the farm we were financially poor. But we didn’t know we were poor because everyone around us looked like we did, dressed like we did and lived like we did. But although we were poor monetarily, we were never poor when it came to love. My Mom and Dad loved us and showed it. They never said to us, we love you. They didn’t have to. We knew they loved us in all of the little ways they showed their care for us and in the way they put us before themselves always–not sometimes but always. But I digress.
There was no coddling of young people back then, I can assure you. The idyllic face of those times on the farm that we have seen on TV and in the movies didn’t describe the hardness nor the drudgery of farm life when I was growing up. I can still feel the biting cold and the dampness in the air and the yearning to be inside where it was warm.
My mom went on to graduate near the top of her class in both High School and College, raise five boys (four teenagers at one time) and fought her way up through the glass ceiling in her career, one of the first women to ever serve in her capacity, eventually retiring from the US Government a few years ago. She was very young when she became a mother, but it didn’t stop her from continuing her education and graduating with multiple honors. She had a husband that at times was more like one of her kids than a supportive father, but she continued on having been married to my dad for 45 years.
From the time I was my daughters age, my mom made more money than my dad (and still does to this day), but it was normal for us as dad never seemed to be bothered by it. My brothers and I didn’t treat my mother with as much respect as we should have when we were younger and we all regret it. We consider my mother a saint these days, as we have grown older and raised our own kids, we can’t imagine having five boys with the energy and spunk that we had and not going crazy. My mom is the smartest person I’ve ever encountered in all my years, she can grasp an issue as complex as nuclear weapons or teenage angst and is the first person I call when I need to work out an issue.
My mom turns 66 years young today, and still looks like she could be in her fourties. My oldest brother used to get in trouble with his girlfriends when we lived in Utah because he would be seen uptown with some other girl and it was my mom. These days my mom’s biggest enjoyment is being around her grand kids, two of which live right around the corner from her. While she raised five “dirty boys” as she calls us these days, she is graced with a large batch of granddaughters, two of which she is spending her birthday today on the other side of the state from where she lives. She also spends her days trying to keep my father from driving her crazy in between writing letters to the Obama Administration complaining about this or that.
I keep telling her that either they are going to make her come out of retirement and serve in the administration or the FBI will show up on her doorstep.
Happy Birthday Mom! We all love you!