Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Memories of My Mother

My mother is a great blessing in my life and the lives of our family. Her family moved to Oregon in September of 1941 and she has lived here ever since. In that time she lived in Portland, St. John's Woods, St. Johns, Linton, Portland and Clackamas. Overall, for the majority of her life Portland was her home. At the age of twenty she married my father and together they raised two daughters and two sons. My siblings and I all married and settled in the Portland area. We are a close family and that is mostly due to my mother and the way she raised us. She is a great example of what a mother should be and do.

In my youth she did some limited child care for others, but in our small home in the Cully neighborhood there was not much room for us much less other children. That is not to say that we did not have friends over, as the door was always open for us to bring friends home. Mom is a great cook and we all enjoyed delicious home cooked meals. One of her favorite changes to the house was when they remodeled the kitchen, turned the garage into a dining room, with a utility room off the back. The day the toaster decided to catch a towel hanging above it on fire was not so good, but it was repaired quickly. Another time the dryer decided to catch fire and the fire department came to rescue us. It was caught quickly, a new dryer was bought and things went back to normal.

The only other fire that I remember is when we were very young and my brother and I decided to use an oatmeal box for a stove. We were standing at the top of the stairs, where our bedrooms were, and my brother threw the box down the stairs when it became too hot to hold. My parents' bedroom was at the bottom of the stairs and they were awakened by our screams. Our father quickly dowsed the flames and then gave us a stern talking to. Mom just looked on shaking her head.

Our Mom always made birthdays and holidays special for us. For birthdays she would bring in special things like carousels and pony rides, and everyone in the neighborhood was invited. For holidays she would decorate the house and sometimes leave the decorations up until the next holiday. One year she had a flocked Christmas tree and just kept changing the decorations for each holiday. For Halloween we always had creative costumes and she would take us through the neighborhood trick or treating.

In 1961 she felt we needed religious training and joined the Mormon Church. We attended the 6th and later the 14th ward. She was raised a Catholic, but felt that teaching children in Latin was not very helpful for us. In our childhood she worked in the Primary for many years, serving as the President, Secretary and taught various classes. Mom also was involved in the PTA and served as President. She worked in our Camp Fire, Girl Scout and Boy Scout activities. Baseball was a family event and she often worked in the snack shack.

Mom loves to iron and did so for many other people. I can still picture her standing in the spare bedroom downstairs, which was used for a mini family room, ironing for hours. Then when she was finished she would often take us with her to drop off her work to the homes of these people. As I recovered from surgeries she would take my ironing home with her and bring it back all nicely pressed. At one time she had a mangle for doing sheets and other large items. It was a unique contraption not found in many homes.

When we were young our parents bought property in Lincoln City, close to the beach. Together we built a small cabin and spent many weekends there. Later when our parents moved to Clackamas and their new home, they sold the cabin. Mom and Dad transformed a hilly, forested hillside into a beautifully landscaped retreat. We all love to wander through the yard to enjoy the flowers and wildlife that come to visit. They planted a garden, blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc. For years we have worked as a family to harvest the grapes and produce quarts of the best grape juice.

My mother's interests over the years included bowling, painting, hiking, golfing, square dancing, traveling, etc. Needless to say, she does not sit still for long. Sewing was the only thing that she did not seem to enjoy as much. She did make clothes for her children when we were young, but she turned the sewing machine over to me. Later when I upgraded to a newer machine, I returned the old Ward's machine to her for doing small repairs. I think it still sits in her closet. She probably bought it when she worked for Montgomery Ward's before her marriage. She also worked for the Hershey Chocolate Company. For a few years she worked doing payroll and billing for the family Pallet Repair Business. Later in life she worked briefly for Meier and Frank, and later for a square dance shop to help pay for her outfits.

When our father was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in 1986, she faced the worst horror of her life. It was a difficult time for all of us and she somehow held us all together. Dad died in 1988, leaving her with a lot of responsibility. Mom's father died in 1956, just after I was born and her mother later married a wonderful man who helped to strengthen our family. Now both he and her mother have passed on, but they played significant roles in her life. In 1990 Mom married her current husband, who has been so supportive of our family. We enjoy spending time with them, usually eating and playing cards.

One of Mom's closest friends was our neighbor. The two of them had a craft shop and worked on many projects together. They would go shopping at garage sales on Fridays. She encouraged Mom to raise birds, and we had finches for several years. Over the years she allowed us to have many animals, birds, cats, dogs, fish, guinea pigs and a rabbit. You might guess who did most of the work for the upkeep of the animals.

Mom is a collector of things and her home is filled with many beautiful keepsakes. But, her favorite keepsakes seem to be her grandchildren (ten of them) and her great grandchildren (nine of them). She attends our family birthday parties and other celebrations. Mom was there to watch their graduations, athletic events, marriages, church events, etc. She always has a beautiful smile and warm hug for all of us. We enjoy our precious family time with her. She truly gave us a wonderful childhood, and helps us to appreciate our adulthood. So for this Mother's Day I want to pay tribute to her and thank her for being such a significant part of my life. Thank you Mom!

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