Mom’s Many Gifts to Me

mom donnie & larry

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul,  

I know whose prayers would make me whole,  

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling

(I posted this for Mother’s Day on The American Catholic.  I thought the history mavens of Almost Chosen People might enjoy reading this part of my personal history.)

 

My Mom died on Easter Sunday in 1984, age 48.  Her second bout with breast cancer took her life, she having survived a first round in 1972.  She told me at that time that she asked God to spare her life until her two boys, my brother and I, were settled in life, and so He did.

Mom had fiery red hair and a tempestuous temperament to match.  When she was a child one of her colleagues at school made the mistake of chanting at her “Fox in the bread box, eating all the cheese!”, and Mom clocked her.  Growing up it was a rare day when I didn’t receive at least one slap, which I had always earned, and one hug, which I rarely earned.  Mom always wore her heart on her sleeve and that fact brought excitement to my life while growing up which I greatly enjoyed.

Mom was a talker.  My laconic father said on occasion that Mom did the talking for both of them and I think that was true.  My brother, who had both Mom’s hair and disposition, also liked to talk and so did I.  When the three of us got going it was an interesting melding of three non-stop monologues.

Mom was also a reader, and she helped instill a love of reading in me.  When I was in fourth grade I read H.G. Wells’ Outline of History.  Mom was somewhat concerned because she knew of Wells’ skepticism of Christianity.  I told Mom that I understood Wells’ bias against Christianity and it would have no impact on me.  Mom never again had any concern about the books that I read that were very advanced for my years.  Her trust in me now that I look back on it was quite touching. (more…)

Published in: on May 9, 2021 at 5:29 am  Comments (4)  
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Nancy Hanks

Some historical figures we know so little about, that it is almost impossible to say much about them.  A prime example is Nancy Hanks Lincoln, the mother of Abraham Lincoln.  Nancy Hanks was born on February 5, 1784 in Hampshire County, Virginia.  She married Thomas Lincoln on June 12, 1806 in Washington County, Kentucky.  They had three children:  Sarah Lincoln, February 10, 1807- January 20, 1828;  Abraham Lincoln; and Thomas Lincoln who died in infancy in 1812.  On October 5, 1818 at Little Pigeon Creek, Indiana, she died of the “milk sickness”, a malady caused by drinking milk from a cow that had eaten the poisonous white snakeroot.  Her husband made her coffin, helped by her son.  That sums up much of what we know about her.  Well might her son describe his family history as “the short, simple annals of the poor”. (more…)

Published in: on May 10, 2020 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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Mother O’ Mine

If I were hanged on the highest hill,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose love would follow me still,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were drowned in the deepest sea,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

I know whose tears would come down to me,

Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

If I were damned of body and soul, 

I know whose prayers would make me whole,

   Mother o’ mine, O mother o’ mine!

Rudyard Kipling

Published in: on May 12, 2019 at 5:35 am  Comments Off on Mother O’ Mine  
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My Bride and Mothers Day

Cathy-in-the-1980s-234x300

Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband, and he praised her.

Proverbs 31:28

My mother loved my bride from their first meeting.  They enjoyed shopping together, and my bride was the daughter she never had. My mother died on Easter Sunday 1984.  She never saw, in this life, her grandchildren.  My bride and I were married for eight years before our twin boys appeared.  We were afraid we were never going to have children.  When they were born, I was 34 and my bride was 33.  After we brought the boys home, my initial thought was:  “What’s next”?  After being married for such a long time as a childless couple, I was concerned that perhaps parenthood would prove a challenge we were ill-prepared to meet.  Fortunately my bride, from the outset, proved herself a superb mother.

Changing endless diapers and making endless bottles of formula she did like a pro, as if her entire life had been preparation for these tasks.  When the toddler stage entered, she was constantly on the go, chasing after two inquisitive little boys who could cover a great deal of distance in a small amount of time.  I helped as much as I could, but the law mines often meant that for large portions of the week my bride was on her own.  This was especially a challenge with Larry as he always ranked among the boldest of spirits.  One morning my bride took the boys to Renfrew Park a few blocks from our home.  Toddler Larry loved that park.  He loved it so much that during the afternoon he slipped from the house and began a toddler trek to the Park.  My bride was frantic until a policeman returned Larry to our house safe and sound to the vast relief of Mom.

The boys were both late talkers and thus my bride began her relationship with various governmental “helping” agencies, who soon decided that something was wrong with both boys.  Well, they were half right:  Larry it turned out was autistic.  He began to speak about the same time as his brother, but he would always speak with difficulty and with a limited range of words.  I was crushed about this initially, alarmed for Larry’s future.  My bride’s optimism never faltered.  She, from their earliest days, began to teach the boys in “Mommy School”, tailoring Larry’s lessons to his abilities.  She continued to do this after our kids began to attend public school, with Mommy School ending with High School.  I largely attribute the academic success of our two other children to my brides’ patient instruction of them as they grew.

Our boys were joined by our baby girl three and a half years after their birth.  Tending the boys while pregnant was often a challenge to my bride, especially on one interesting, that would be the word, day when I came home and was advised that the boys had displayed their artistic skill, by painting on the white walls of their room in poop.  Life was rarely dull for my bride as our kids were growing!  With the advent of our daughter my bride had an inquisitive, and talkative, mini-her, who for the first years of her life often would say what her Mom had said just a few minutes  before, as if the words were thought up by her.  Donnie quickly reacted to this little prodigy by learning a new phrase, “I scared of sister.” (more…)

Published in: on May 8, 2016 at 5:30 am  Comments (2)  
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