It’s that time of year again, and to celebrate we’ve rounded up seven of our most inspiring stories about mothers!
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HELEN BALMER WILLIAMS KEISEN
FRAIL AS A BUTTERFLY'S WING
A HEART OF PURE GOLD
THIS IS MY DARLING MOTHER
This haiku tells Mom's story in a nutshell. When I was going to collegeI I wrote it, along with other haikus, to fulfill an assignment. Mom never weighed over 90 pounds and that was when she was 9 months pregnant. Her normal weight was 70+ pounds. She was crippled from polio when a little child, but it didn't stop her from finishing high school and marrying a handsome sailor boy.
She bore 4 healthy children, only the first and last in a hospital. My younger brother and I were born at home. The story of my birth, as told by my Aunt Vi, in whose home I was born, was a bit humorous, though I'm sure my Mom didn't think so. The Dr., my Dad, Aunt Vi and Uncle Bob all sat around shelling and eating peanuts while Mom was pulling on a sheet tied to the bed post with every pain, till I came into the world.
Though fragile of limb, Mom was the strongest lady I have ever known. I have two vivid memories to help support this statement. The first happened when I was perhaps 4 years old. We lived in one side of a double house in Pedricktown, NJ. We had an outhouse, but were blessed to have running water to the kitchen. Mom gave us our nightly baths in a galvanized wash tub, which was placed on the floor in front of the big black wrought iron cooking stove. She would heat water and pour it into the tub. One evening when she started to lose her balance, she reached out her hand to catch herself, and when she lifted her hand from the top of the hot stove, she left a hand print there. No scream, but with a calm voice she said, "Jeannie, go get Mrs. Chew."
The Chews lived in the other half of the house. Of course in those days, grease was applied right away. I don't know how she managed to keep up with household chores till it healed, but it had to be very difficult. Never a whine did I hear from her.
Later, when I was maybe 10 or 11 years old and we had moved to our "Irish Sweepstakes" home- Dad built it after winning the big prize- a pot of boiling water was knocked over onto her legs. With the softest of vocal outbursts, a feeble "Ooooh", she pulled herself up by her hands onto the corner of the counter. My Dad picked her up and took her to their bedroom, where he slathered on the grease.
Over the next few weeks, blisters were broken every day, as per doc's instructions. Mom ran the house from her bed of pain, never once complaining. She issued orders to my older sister and I. She had already taught us housekeeping skills, so we knew how to do the laundry- wash and run through the wringer, hang outside, or if raining, in the cellar, iron (no permanent press in those days), clean the house, and get meals cooked so that everything was done at the same time.
I never did learn how to make her melt-in-your-mouth pie crust. I tried to get her recipe, but it was a "handful" of this, a "pinch" of that, etc. Whenever she made pies, she always used the trimmed off crust to make heavenly treats for us. She'd roll out the dough, spread it with butter and sprinkle on a mixture of sugar and cinnamon, roll it up, slice pieces like you would a jelly roll but thinner, lay them out flat and bake them till a golden brown. YUMMY!
Her ability to make much with little was legendary. When a former soldier from the army base across the road from our home brought us a bushel basket of bananas, we got to eat every recipe you can imagine and some you'd never think of, as well.
Her soups were sooo tasty- ham and navy bean was my favorite. Her fish- delivered by the "Friday fish man", Phil Shannon-was cooked to a mouth-watering morsel, her favorite being porgies. Her fried tomato gravy was so delectable I can almost taste it right now. After I grew up and had my own family, she'd often call to invite us for soup. She had always "made too much" for just her and Dad. I do have her recipe for "Poor Man's Cake", made with things in the cupboard, no eggs or butter required, but moist and tasty. Friends of Mom and Dad's would ask her to make it for their birthdays. I can't remember her cooking anything I didn't like, even brussel sprouts!
Mom would always let us choose what we wanted her to cook for our birthday dinner. Of course, we would know it had to be a reasonable price. No steak or other "rich people" stuff. For dessert, a cake of our choosing or "Sticky Pie". Her sticky pie started out as a shoofly pie recipe. She didn't have molasses, so she used white karo. It turned out to be a favorite of all who tried it. My children still salivate when the name "sticky pie" is mentioned.
Besides being an excellent cook, she had a servant's heart. I recall more than one time, she'd notice my feet weren't quite clean enough to pass inspection, she'd have me sit on the kitchen bench, hang my feet over the side, and proceed to sit on the floor and wash my feet in a little basin of warm water. And of course, she'd always remind me to wear clean underwear if I was going out because I might get in an accident and be taken to the hospital and if they saw dirty underwear, they"d think she was a bad mother!
She was a wise mother and a quick thinker, too. Once when my little brother was standing on the second story windowsill sporting a towel around his neck, she calmly called up to him, "Tommy, what are you doing?" He said, "I'm gonna fly like Superman." Again with a calm voice she said," If you do that we'll have to scrape you off the driveway with a shovel." He thought for a short while, then quietly came downstairs to her waiting arms.
Mom"s favorite bible verse was Matthew 17:20. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say to this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you." She wore a mustard seed pendant as long as I can remember. She only met one great grandchild, the first one, Ruth. Ruth has inherited the mustard seed. Mom was still alive when Ruth was born, but passed before Ruth was old enough to remember her. Mom's favorite hymn was "In The Garden" and she also liked "The Old Rugged Cross." I found this out when my teen-aged bible study group came to our home one evening for a bible study.
As I think of my Mom I have many memories of her generosity to family, friends and sometimes total strangers. Most of my growing up years were spent living across the road from an army base, where American soldiers and German war prisoners were housed. Whenever they took a convoy out, or one was coming in, she would send Pat and I up to the corner, where a soldier was always posted to direct the army vehicles to Rte. 130. We carried a drink and a homemade sandwich to the lone sentry. Often we would have as our guest(s) for an evening one or more homesick men from the base. Some even stayed over for a night or two.
As to the prisoners of war, who worked outside under guard, she told us to smile, wave and say hello to these young men. She reminded us that they were far from home and missed their families.
Hoboes from the railroad tracks in back of the woods behind our home often showed up at the back door. She would have them sit on the stoop and they'd be rewarded with one or more sandwiches, along with a drink. Always with a smile and a good word. None to our knowledge went to the bigger house next door. Mom thought they must have marked our home somehow and that we were there for a "bigger" reason.
Whenever I "ran away from home", she'd pack me a lunch. I'd walk the 1/4 mile to the base gate and the they'd let me come in the guard shack and talk to whoever was there. They all knew my name and would say something like, "Running away again, Jeannie?" On my treks, I never went any further than that, but it seemed so FAR!
I used to get cramp[s every month and if they were severe, she'd let me stay home from school and would provide much TLC--hot tea, a hot water bag, back rubs a chicken soup for lunch. If I ever wanted to do so, she'd sit next to me on the couch and hold my head in her skinny lap for as long as I felt it necessary.One gesture she performed was to pat me three times. I asked her what that meant and she said," It means I love You." That has been passed on to her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great-great grandchildren. They all know where it started. Even though the greats and great greats never met her they can relate to Nanny.
Mom was built like Olive Oyl, Popeye's girlfriend. She was flat-chested, very thin, and wore no make up, except a little lipstick when going out. She had false teeth, but couldn't wear them because they made her gag. She had a limp and had to do steps one at a time. Her nickname was Honey, most suitable to her personality and demeanor.
Mom's wardrobe consisted of mostly house dresses. Cotton, button or snap up the front, sometimes with a belt. I remember her always wearing an apron. Her shoes are from a mail-order catalogue. She wouldn't wear anything else. They laced up over the instep and had small wedged heels, were black or brown in winter, white or light tan in summer.
She loved to feed the birds, so Dad made a feeder that attached to the side living room window. All Mom had to do was open the window to refill the feeder. Her ashes are sprinkled there, along with Dad's. When they sat in their living room in the evening, Dad would pour Mom a "nickel" beer from his bottle or can.
Mom wasn't chatty. I guess you could say she taught lessons by modeling. She walked the walk. Through her Christian example, I learned to be thrifty, how to treat others with kindness, how to be a servant, how to have respect for others, how to do my best, how to live in peace with all God's children, how to be loyal, thankful, truthful, honest, joyful, patient, loving, gentle and helpful. She always held a high moral ground. Being raised in a Presbyterian home, she believed that God has a plan for each of His children. I didn't realize till I began to list here all that she taught me, all that she wanted me to know. She embraced the fruit of the Spirit and wanted me to use that as a plan for my life. I recall her saying on more than one occasion , "Jeannie, if you can't think of something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
The most frail of 10 siblings, Mom lasted longer than any of them. Sadly, My husband, myself and our only grandchild at the time were camping out west when she went home, but I'm told that as she breathed her last, she held her arms up and smiled, as if she could see someone waiting for her. I believe that Mom is able to run free, a simple pleasure that was denied to her here on earth.
I'm pleased to ponder and reminisce about the most important woman in my life. I hope I didn't get too carried away. Once I got started, it was hard to quit. I'll probably come up with more in the days to come. Thank you for a place to post this epistle. I'll end with a quote from a song by John Tesh:
"MOTHER, I MISS YOU, AND NIGHTS I JUST WISH YOU WERE HERE WITH ME,
SO WE CAN LAUGH AND TALK AGAIN.
MOTHER I MISS YOU, SO I'LL JUS TKISS YOU AND SEND IT ON THE WIND,
'CAUSE YOU KNOW I PLAN TO SEE YOU AGAIN."
God bless you and have a blessed day.
Love in Jesus,
Jean Keisen Romansky
16 leap Drive
Pennsville, NJ 08070-1117
Thank you for the opportunity to honor the memory of our beloved Mother Mariella....This July 23 will be 4 years since her transition, and I miss her everyday; for her Memorial I wrote these words that came from the deepest part of my heart and express my love for her...Mamacita, thank you for your unconditional love, thank you for your faith, thank you for your kindness, thank you for your dedication,thank you for your example, thank you for your teachings, thank you for your thoughtfulness, thank you for your laughter, thank you for your tears, thank you for your graciousness, thank you for making us proud, and most of all, thank you for being you....You are, and will always be our guide, our protector, our joy, and our source of inspiration.....Your Children
I don't know you, but it sounds to me like you are a strong woman with some really good and loving friends. I know from experience how family members can give you a hard time, but as they grow older and experience life themselves they change. So continue to pray and lean on the Lord's strength and your own strength will grow.
God put a millioneth part of his heart on a Mother
I saw where you were doing something for folks who want to tell moms how good they were. I contacted some of my friend Dorinda's former exchange students, and they were able to send notes to me to send to her. She could really use some positive reinforcement. Her sons are not dealing well with their dad's suicide, and they are blaming her for it. She could really use some others remembering positive things. She loves your magazine, so I thought she might like to receive them this way.
Please do not use my e mail address on this site, but it is email@example.com
Thanks so much for being my mom. You were so good to me. Even graduation from college meant enough for you to travel to me to celebrate. I thanks you for that. You were good mom to all of us. You protected Pat being bad. We knew he had done something, because Corey told us. Thank you for protecting him. You were not embarrassing him. You did not share with me for many years about David suiciding. We are so sorry you are dealing with that. You were good mom. I hope they will soon realize it. You would be good grandmother. You never forget our births and anniversaries.
Love to you,
Thanks to you for mothering me while we were in Austin. You were so wonderful, and you have cared enough to stay in touch. Thanks so much for that. I look forward to the day you can meet your "grandson" in person. You were good to both your sons as well. I saw you hugging Pat in the kitchen one morning for seemingly nothing. You fussed at him where we could not hear one day as well. I am finding I have to fuss at my son more than I want, but it is my duty to make him behave. Maybe one day Pat will grow up and realize that is all you were doing for him.
Thanks being my mom. My wife hopes to meet you, and soon my baby as well. I had good times in your house. David and you taught me how to work out problems. I always saw you work through, and you make up when it was worked out. That is good. Thanks you for showing me how to be a parent. You showed me how to send Corey through college, how to use good time, how to be a good family. I surprised Pat and Corey not forgive. They had good examples from you. Thanks again being my mom for four years.
We thank you for being our "parents" while we were in Austin. We thank you for that. We know this is difficult for you. You were a nice family, and David did seem appreciative of you. Patrick seemed troubled youth, and Corey seemed resentful of him. You appeared to juggle their feelings. As a psychology student, I was impressed with that. From our observations it was not easy. I am sure you made mistakes. We all do. But you appeared to be in there trying, and you appeared to work through problems. Maybe their immaturity and hurt over what their dad did to them will soon dissapate. We thought David was fairly stable, but we could tell you were much stronger person. Frankly, what we saw, I was surprised you had not killed Patrick.
Serpil and Serdar
happy mothers day
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