All that remains are the memories of Mom

It doesn’t get easier. The sense of loss and the feeling of loneliness doesn’t go away, not ever.

My mother was born in September. During the month, I spend more time than usual thinking about her. I never once missed spending Mom’s birthday with her. I usually bought her a special card, but one year, I cut out colorful words from magazines, such as beautiful, loving, humorous and glued them to a card. Inside was a poem written especially for her. I found the card in her dresser drawer after she passed. It touched me that she kept it all those years.

Mom was the oldest of six children. Her father, a war veteran, passed away when she was only 12 years old. She had to quit school to take care of her siblings so her mother, Edna Whittaker, could work. Mom never wanted people to know she didn’t have a high school diploma. It embarrassed her. I know Mom didn’t have an easy life, and I was proud of her for handling so much responsibility at a young age. She cared for her five siblings. She taught herself to cook, bake and clean.

Mother loved to learn. She read a lot. She was a whiz at crossword puzzles. She watched shows like Jeopardy and I was shocked at all the answers she knew. She was a feisty lady and I loved that about her.

Mom was a stay-at-home mom. When I would return from school, she would greet me at the door. She was an extraordinary baker, and there was always a warm coffee cake, eclairs or warm cookies for an after-school treat.

I don’t know if others thought my mom was beautiful, but I sure did. She had dark auburn hair and dark eyes. My mom always wore house dresses when I was a kid. Mom had beautiful, shapely legs. She didn’t wear nylons with her house dresses but on Sunday mornings before church I loved watching her. She would go to her dresser drawer and remove a flat narrow box. Inside were nylon stockings. They were shaped like a flat leg. She would put the stocking on and attach it to a garter belt. (no panty hose back then). When she went to weddings, she wore stockings with a black seam down the back. She spent a great deal of time making sure the seam was absolutely straight.

When her nylon would start to get a run, she would put a little drop of clear fingernail polish on it. That would usually stop the run allowing her to wear them several more times.

She hung all the laundry outside on the homemade clothesline. She sprinkled and ironed everything, including pillow cases, hankies, cotton dish towels and undershirts.

One autumn day, when Mom was away, my dad decided he would teach me how to fly a kite. He said the kite needed a tail. He went into the house and came out with something he tore into strips and tied onto the string for the tail. Dad had grabbed one of her few house dresses from a laundry basket, mistaking it for a rag. I will always remember the fireworks that occurred when Mom returned home. Mom didn’t have many clothes and she took good care of her sparse wardrobe. I remember Dad was in the doghouse for about a week!

Mom was incredibly neat and organized; everything had its place. As a kid, I used to love to look in her dresser drawers. She had a row of neatly folded and pressed handkerchiefs. Her tablecloths were colorful and neatly folded. She had one drawer of aprons; they were each different, with bright colors, rick rack and ribbons. I remember a sheer one she wore when her Ladies Aid prepared dinners for funerals.

People living at the time will always remember Nov. 22, 1963. When I returned from work that day, Mom cried as she talked about the assassination of John Kennedy; she adored him. Like many Americans, she watched television non-stop for the weekend; the motorcade scene, with Jackie’s pink suit covered in her husband’s blood and later, Lee Harvey Oswald’s arrest. Mom saw Jack Ruby shoot Oswald on live television; she tearfully watched President Kennedy’s funeral. Who could forget John John, Kennedy’s young son, saluting his father? Such a sad time for not only my mom, but all Americans.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your parents, tell them you love them. Spend time with them. I can’t make any more memories with my parents, all I can do is cherish the ones I have, and I do!

Happy birthday, Mom.

Question: Who owned the Shawano Abstract Co. in 1959?

Clothesline Conversation Answer: The owner of Shawano Abstract was Alvin J. Achten.

Lorna Marquardt is a former mayor of Shawano.