Friday, May 16, 2008

Memories of Mom

5/7/08 Chatterbox Memories of Mom Betty Kaisers Sunday is Mother’s Day. And whether you call her mom-mama-mother-or mum, it’s a great time to pay tribute to one of the most influential people in your life. In good times and bad, all moms are memory makers, leaving an indelible impression on each precious life entrusted to them. So, today, in honor of mothers, some ‘kids’ who grew up in the 1930s, 40s and 50s, will take us down their mom’s memory lane. Betty Roberts lived in St. Helens, OR during WWII. It was a time of clothing, food and gas rationing. Money was especially tight for a family of five children. “Mom was very sacrificial, always putting us before herself. For my 8th grade graduation she took me to Portland shopping. I found the cutest pair of Wedgie shoes, which we bought with my ration coupon. Later that day, in another store, I put the package down and lost the shoes! Of course, I cried! And we looked everywhere. But no shoes… “Then mom came to the rescue! Bless her heart. She gave up her own ration coupon so we could go back and buy me another identical pair of shoes.” How important was that sacrifice? “Well, if anyone would like to see those shoes, they are still in my cedar chest along with my beautiful graduation dress and jacket. A great memory.” Kay Habenick was born in North Dakota during WWII, while her dad was stationed with the Army in Alaska. Upon reflection, she realized that thinking of her mom puts her whole life in focus. “It was just mom and me for 18 months until my dad came for us, so we bonded maybe stronger than most. She was quiet, sweet and loving. She never raised her voice and taught by example. I only remember one spanking, when she caught me smoking in the fourth grade. She was my best friend my whole life and although she has been gone four years, I still head for the phone when I need to talk to someone when really good or bad things happen.” Audrey Bobbitt was born and raised in Hollywood and a graduate of Hollywood High School, She is a treasure trove of history and stories about that wonderful era but her most loving memories are of her mom. “When I think of my mother I always remember what a gracious and lovely lady she was to everyone who entered her home. During the Great Depression my dad was out of work. But despite those times of rationing, she was able to stretch a casserole to serve our family and whoever else happened to stop by at dinner. She was a truly lovely and kind person. I never heard her criticize anyone. “As my sister and I were growing up I can never recall a time she was mad or yelled at us. We loved her so much and always tried to please her. She set an example of being a wonderful mother and I hope that all young mothers today would like to be remembered as I remember my mother.” Neysa Zurkammer’s husband Dee won my “First Tomato” contest in 2001 and they since been honored to twice win the Cottage Grove “Yard of the Week” award. Neysa has successfully planted flowerbeds all over the country and she gives her mom Nora, the credit. “Mom was a (natural) master gardener who could grow anything and knew every weed by name. In the cold Illinois winters, she started seedlings in our utility room where they got the necessary humidity from our old wringer washing machine. When I was old enough I was outside working with her, pulling weeds, pruning rose bushes and planting.” Thanks to mom’s influence, she hasn’t stopped yet. Charlene Hornick has a funny story about her very genteel, non-swearing mother. Charlotte, her mother, doted on her three grandchildren and delighted in taking their pictures. However, cameras with those early unpredictable flash bulbs were her enemy. Picture taking sessions were the only time this lovely grandmother used the forbidden “damn” word. “Mother would arrange the grandchildren; get the setting just right; ask for smiles and click the camera. She would then ask my dad, “Bill, did the flash go off?” If he said, “No,” she’d say “damn” and we’d do it all again. To this day, any time we stand in front of a camera for picture posterity, we laugh, remember Charlotte and invariably someone says, “Bill, did the flash go off…damn!” Rita Stafford was raised as an only child in Los Angeles. Her mother, in an early attempt at “discipline correctness,” decided that she would not spank her misbehaving 5-year old. Instead, she determined that perhaps her daughter would feel worse if she slapped her mother’s hands whenever she was naughty. “This punishment didn’t last long,” Rita laughs. “She soon discovered that I was thoroughly enjoying it and even giggling as I did it!” Jeannie Hand comes from a large Italian family — 10 kids! Her mother, Maria Teresa Osti came to America in 1914 as a bride, settling first in San Pedro and then in Sierra Madre, CA. Jeannie was the youngest child, born when her mother was in her 40’s. “Although we were poor, Mama thoughtfully shared what we had with our neighbors and friends. Mama would send us younger children around the neighborhood dispensing her bounty whether it was a large catch of fish caught by my brothers; lugs of peaches, tomatoes or corn when they were plentiful; even small bouquets of flowers. An elderly neighbor gratefully received dinner plates of Mama’s ravioli or spaghetti. And if you happened to stop by for a visit you were always offered a cup of coffee. Mama felt very blessed in her life and showed it by sharing her blessings with others.” And finally, comes this very recent memory from Buck Buchanan who made the difficult decision to move back to Los Angeles to care got his ailing mother who went to heaven on January 19. “I still remember mom’s smiling, loving expression when I returned home and got out of the truck. She had a look of awe, calm, relief and pure excitement. I knew that she had released her worry and that I had made the right decision. She was a praying, very proud and elegant woman who loved and accepted everyone. Many of my friends wanted her as their mother! What a legacy. If only I could be as accepting, loving and faithful as she. I declare my mom “priceless.” Well, folks, if you have a priceless mother, I suggest that you tell her so. Add a note to her Mother’s Day card relating your favorite “mom memory.” It will make her day. And God bless all mothers everywhere. It is both the best and most difficult job on earth. Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Read her weekly columns in the Cottage Grove Sentinel:

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