by Sharon M. Kennedy
1984 Three Generations!
When I was growing up in the 1950s, it never occurred to me Mom could be or would want to be anything other than what she was—a wife and the mother of three children. She worked hard from the moment she awakened until her day was finally done long after the family had gone to bed. Her final tasks were the easiest. Bank the woodstove for the night, bring in the dog, put out the cat, and switch off the lights.
Maybe before she drifted off to sleep she thought of ambitions she had nurtured as a young girl, but she never spoke of them. I don’t think many people of my generation had long conversations with their mothers. It just wasn’t done in those days. There was always so much work to do in the house and around the farm, most women never spoke of their secret dreams.
Like the rest of us, I took Mom for granted. She was Mom and that was all there was to it. She cooked our meals, washed and ironed our clothes, helped with the barn chores, wallpapered the kitchen and front room walls every three years, nursed us when we were sick, made sure we were clean and well-prepared for school, and got us to church every Sunday. In other words, Mom was our slave.
Thinking back on all the work she did for us, I realize we, her family, were many times ungrateful, selfish, and totally self-centered. Maybe not Dad so much because he was the breadwinner and never complained, nor did he ever demand an accounting as to where his paycheck went. He handed it to Mom, and she paid the bills, bought groceries and clothes, and tried to keep a little back for emergencies. It took me a long time to realize that Mom was an amazing woman.
She had the energy of an army, while I have the energy of a flea. She had the wisdom of a scholar, while I—complete with a graduate degree—have the wisdom of an ant. When Dad unexpectedly passed away, Mom bravely soldiered on although I knew her heart was breaking. Dad was her whole world as her children were grown and gone.
Rarely a day goes by when I don’t think of her. Because I live in her home, her essence is everywhere. Every step I take in this place was taken by her. I look out the same windows. I open and close the same doors. When I go outside, I walk down the same back steps. Even the old straw broom I sweep with was held in Mom’s hands.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the wonderful moms reading this column. I hope your loved ones appreciate you and acknowledge all you do for them. And to my daughter, Stephanie, I thank you for loving and cherishing this old gal you call Mom.
Mom loved her little red wagon (1994)