Friday, December 7, 2007

Eighty-two Today

She was born on December 7, 1925. American women had won the right to vote only a few years prior.

When she was seven, in the middle of the Great Depression, her father died on Thanksgiving Day. She was the second of five children left to be raised by her widowed mother. The youngest was ten months old. Times were very hard and they were poor. She remembers picking up coal scraps at the side of the railroad tracks to help heat their house.

They moved a lot when she was a young girl, but her close family, Catholic faith and school were constants in her life; she received an excellent education and graduated from high school with what would now equate to a university-level education.

On her sixteenth birthday, the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. In the war years that followed she saw many of her friends leave home for faraway battlefields.

When she was eighteen, she met a boy at a dance. He said he was eighteen, too, although he was only sixteen. She dated him anyway, and when he went off to China with the US Marines, he asked her to wait for him. Rumor has it she refused, but when he came home, they were married. She was almost twenty-two; he was twenty. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary on November 15th.

While running the family business, she and her husband raised eleven children together. The first was born in 1949 and the babies came pretty regularly for the next twenty-one years; the last one was born on Valentine's Day, 1970.

Their children are examples of the incredible love, strength, courage, faith in each other and in their religion, and good humor that the two of them share. They are all good people, productive members of society, wonderful mothers and fathers themselves. None are suffering from bad health or addictions; none have been in jail or in rehab. They are good friends and love each other as they love their parents; they know how lucky they are and appreciate each other and each day.

She and her husband are respected, loved and admired by hundreds of friends, their childrens' friends, their community. They are called "inspirational" by many.

Her husband would say she is the glue that held the family together for the forty years he was working day and night to provide for them. Her husband says she is his best friend. Her children love her beyond measure.

I am her eighth child. There are no words to describe how I feel about my mother.

She taught me how to be the person I am.

She taught me how to be fair to everyone: "Do not judge a person until you have walked a mile in their shoes."

She taught me how to appreciate what I have: "There, but for the grace of God, go you."

She taught me how to weather tough times: "This, too, shall pass."

She taught me to stand up for myself: "Remember, marriage is 50-50. He has to do his part, too." (Previous marriage, not D.!)

She taught me to be nice: "No gossiping! Don't be catty."

I've never heard my mother say anything remotely resembling racism, sexism, homophobia, or plain meanness.

The woman is a saint. And I have been blessed every day of my life to be her daughter.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you so.

6 comments:

Mary Alice said...

Oh, what an absolutely beautiful tribute. She has set such a wonderful example....I can only hope my children say such wonderful things about me on my 82nd b-day. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and introducing me to another Mary Alice that shares December 7th!

Professor J said...

Happy Birthday, Claire's mom!
You sound great.

Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

This post was so lovely. Thank you for letting a wandering soul in to read it. Your mother is as lucky to have you as you are to have her. Congratulations to you both. And Happy Birthday to your mom.

Mrs. G. said...

Happy Happy Birthday. What a lovely tribute to mom! She sounds wonderful.

Oh, The Joys said...

Happy Birthday to your mom!!

Claire B. said...

Thanks everyone~I shall pass your good wishes along to Mary Alice.

And you know, she so does not look/act/seem 82. She's cool.