I am sitting in my favorite chair on Mother’s Day remembering my mother. She was born in 1906 in Erie Pa, the middle child of three. I know very little of her early life, or rather I forget what she told us, (me and my sister). She loved to tell stories of her childhood and she told them well. There was a time when I asked her to write them down and she wrote only one, the day a mouse was found in my baby crib. What I wanted was the tale of a time she got lost and a person in a horse and buggy found her and took her home. The fact that she lived in a horse and buggy era was so foreign to me.
Momie graduated from Radcliffe college in 1929. She was an English major. My dad graduated from Harvard in 1928 and I guess I don’t need to elaborate on where they met. They were married in 1930. My sister arrived in 1931 and I in 1933.
I would tell tales of my early years with my mother but I can’t. She was found to have tuberculosis and spent several years in an sanitarium. I do remember waving to a face in a window of the place and being told that was my mother. We had what today you would call a Nanny, named Jeanette, to care for us while my mother was in the hospital and Jeanette remained with until WW II when she joined the Wacs. She was our second mother even after Momie came home.
We lived close to our elementary school. Lunch was not served at the school. We walked home for lunch and then back for the afternoon session. My mother took pity on the long walk some children had to make to and from school, so she would have hot soup on cold and rainy days and we walked home with friends who shared lunch time with us and then went back to school.
She was a church secretary for our Congregational church. I do recall her struggling with the ditto machines and mastering making carbon copies. How she would have loved the ease of printing today. I know she would have mastered a computer happily.
WW II took us to PA where we attended a small Quaker school. She became a substitute when teachers were sick… except my class. One try at my grade and we found she and I did not cope well. I recall very well trying to figure out who this teacher was… my mother or Mrs Morse. I spent that day in the office with my work, not as a penalty but because she saw how conflicted I was.
Back to MA after the war and the church job. Later teaching grade 4 at my school until she found her hearing loss was too much to handle a classroom.
She took Braille lessons, translating books or papers for the blind and often drove blind people to appointments or meetings.
In the summer we lived in the grandparents summer place on Cape Cod. She became cook for all the relatives and guests with a good friend sharing the care and feeding of us, her friends children, and whatever relative, friend, or friend of a relative might show up for the week or weekend.
Did I hear her complain…NEVER… it was a lot of work but she and her friend, Marg, would laugh and joke and get through the day. One day the two of them took off in the car. I assume they had had enough of a house full of kids, a baby sitter and who knows what else. They drove to a very fancy gated island on the Cape where they told the guard they were to clean for Mrs ???? — some made up name. They drove around the island to see how the other half lived and came home laughing about it and telling us of their adventure.
When I left for college I was greeted every week with a letter from Momie… “Deda dear… love Momie” I could count on it. Even if there was little news the letter would arrive. The sun was shining, the birds were singing, something, anything cheerful to say hi and let me know she loved me and remembered me. Even after I was married and moved away, those letters would come and I wrote nearly every week in response. In fact I have my letters which she saved for me…. note books full of them telling of my life and events, sometimes not very noteworthy, but saved for me to remember in later years.
Happy Mother’s Day Momie… I know you are hanging over a cloud like the cartoon… smiling at me. Telling me all is well with my world….. and I am listening even though I didn’t used to.