(School Days - Mom, middle row, far left.)
My mom is an extraordinary woman who had a difficult life as a young child and some of her earliest memories are those that sound like a Stephen King novel turned into a horror movie. Painful memories that anyone would want to forget, so I won’t go into details here.
My mom will turn 88 this year and although the beginning was rough, to say the least, she went on to accomplish so many things. When the U.S. entered World War II my mom, 19 years old, went to enlist in the marines. Thank goodness she wasn’t accepted, but that didn’t stop her from doing her part in the war. As the male workforce was being drafted into military service it was up to women to keep things running at home. My mom began working as a welder at the Dravo Corporation in Pittsburgh building battleships.
The Dravo’s shipyard became the leader in manufacturing LST’s (Landing Ship Tanks) for the U.S. Navy. New techniques were developed at Dravo’s that cut cost and construction time where a new LST could be delivered to the Navy in less than five month’s time! Because of these women and men back home building battleships faster than the enemy could sink them, it was a major factor in the Allies winning the war.
My mom and dad raised five children in an atmosphere of love and security, of music and literature, that gave the five of us the ability to dream that we could do whatever we set our minds to do and we did. We grew up playing music, reading books, and never getting into trouble, much to our parents’ delight!
(Being awarded for over 20 yrs of service.)
If raising five kids wasn’t enough, my mom became a nurse’s aide working at a children’s hospital taking care of newborns, babies, and young children with mental and physical disabilities. Later in life she volunteered as a Foster Grandparent and mentor to young children and continued doing so for over twenty years until she suffered a mini stroke four years ago.
(Banging pots & pans on New Year’s Eve.)
If you think that would stop her, you’re wrong. After several months of therapy, my mom made a full recovery. She said, “When the doctor told me I could no longer live on my own and that I would have to depend on my children to take care of me, I told myself, ‘No way, I’m going to recover from this!’” And she did! If anything, she is better than ever! Her mind is sharp and she has to remind me of things I need to do because I’ve become so forgetful!!!
At 87 years young, you can find mom in her garden on any given beautiful day, planting, weeding, watering, or just caring for her flowers and plants! With five children, twelve grand-children and nine great-grand-children, she’s the matriarch of our family and she is what holds us together as a family ever since my father passed away so many years ago.
(Mom and I on top of the Pyramid of the Sun in Mexico.)
She’s not, however, your typical elderly lady putzing around, or sitting on her porch - she has a love for traveling and is ready to go at a drop of a hat. When she was 56 years old, she and I spent six months traveling all over Europe hopping on and off trains visiting every single country in Western Europe and do we have stories to tell!!!
In 2007 at 85, she went traveling halfway around the world, from France to Mexico to Hawaii, and if you’ve read some of my earlier posts this year, you know she’s still as spry as ever!
Maya Muses: I am so proud of my mother and I love her dearly. She is a wonderful, beautiful person and the best mother in the world! She has given of herself so freely and has shared her love, not only with us, but with so many other children and we have all been truly blessed.
(Mom getting ready to ride!)
Happy Mother’s Day Mom!
Photo Credits: Personal Photos