Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
Robert Kennedy, South Africa 1966.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Happy Birthday Mom!
(Written 10 years ago)
Today would have been my mother's 95th birthday. I was very fortunate in my mother. She and my father divorced when I was about four years old and we moved in with her parents. Mom liked to go out and party so every Saturday night my great-aunts would take care of me and I have special memories of them.
Mom was my best friend when I was growing up. She, as a single parent, sacrificed a lot for me and later for my sister also. But she was mine until I was ten years old. (Actually things work out kind of fun for us to remember our ages. I turned 65, mother would have been 95 then my sister will turn 55 and my nephew will be 25.)
Mother was one of those people who wanted everyone to get along and be friends and her friends were life-long friends. Her parents were great examples of that type of friendship. They belonged to a club called "Suitsus" (read that suits us) and they played cards with the same group of people for years. Mother had a Bridge Club that met every other week and these women played cards for over 40 years.
Mom made sure that my needs and wants were met even if she had to go without. She saw to it that I was able to visit her sister in California between my Junior and Senior year in High School because she had been there and knew I would enjoy it.
She loved people and would talk to anyone she met. She "didn't know a stranger." We went to Leech Lake in Minnesota and made lots of friends there. We played a lot of cards. One sister who was up there all summer once made the remark that "Ruth just can't wait to get up there to play cards." This as Mom passed her to go to the Lodge to play cards.
We met a lot of people there and I will never forget some of them. Many drove in from far away and always managed to be there when we were there. Mary Jane and Morrie became a part of our family and we spent a lot of time with them at other times also. Mary Jane's parents became as close as anyone could be to us and we all loved them.
It is because of my mother and her capacity for making and keeping friends that my life was enriched by so many people.
She worked in offices and was very good at what she did. I know that she had to rework a lot of the reports that the farm managers turned into her and "saved their butts" by cleaning up the spelling and grammar. They appreciated her but she was never paid what they should have. i know things are somewhat better today but women are still not paid what men are paid and it is just WRONG.
She also saw to it that I knew how to take care of myself. I learned how to do laundry and sew on buttons because everybody should be able to take care of those things. She also let me cook and while I am not a great cook (like my nephew) I can put a meal on the table and I won't starve.
Mother was also responsible for me joining the Masons. She was a Rainbow Girl (Past Grand Hope) when she was younger and had always wanted to join Eastern Star. After my grandfather re-joined the Masons she was able to join. She said to me that she thought that I "might enjoy" the Masons. During my first year of teaching I noticed a Masonic ring on my principal's finger and mentioned to him what Mom had said. He asked me if I was interested in joining and I said yes. So I joined Trojan Lodge in Marion Iowa in the Spring of 1966 and then drove back to Ames in October to join Laura Chapter, Order of the Eastern Star and became a fourth generation member of the Chapter. Mom was the only regular officer that night as it was a friendship night and having her give me the lecture for Ruth made it a very special evening.
I can't be a fourth generation member of the Lodge even though four great grandfathers and two grandfathers were Masons because my father was never a member.
So Mom I want to wish you a very Happy Birthday. I still love you and miss you and wish you were here. I know the last years of your life were tough ones but giving up smoking was a good thing and added some time. And through it all you maintained your loving spirit and caring for others. I was indeed fortunate in my mother. I am a better person for having you as my friend/example/advocate. Your son, Jay