Sunday, May 11, 2008

In Honor of my Mom

On this occasion of mother's day I'd like to tell you about my mom, Ruth. She was born in 1944 in Hammond, Indiana where she grew up. Her mother passed away when she was about 12 and her dad remarried, but she did not like her step-mother at all. Her family was fairly religious, but she rebelled as a teen. She and my dad started dating when she was 13 and he was 16. I think that is about the time she also started smoking as well. She was a good student in school excelling in English. She was always a favorite of teachers. She once told me a story of how her teacher asked her if she would like to be cheerleader and my mom said "yes". The teacher then said "O.k. we will now vote on the rest of the cheerleading squad." She and my dad married when my mom was still a junior in high school. I think her home life was not ideal and she lived with my dad's family most of the time anyway. This was in 1961. My mom had my sister, Paula, when she was about 19 (1963) and my brother, Tim, followed two years later in 1965. They moved to Texas in 1968 and I was a surprise in 1969. My mom didn't realize she was pregnant for a while and her due date was a guess since she didn't have a reference point of her last cycle (they were irregular). I was due on Oct. 10 officially, but I didn't arrive until Nov. 10.
My mother was the creative type. She learned to decorate cakes when I was young and she always made a special cake for me and my siblings for our birthdays. She would let me look in the decorating book and pick out the cake I wanted. She also made costumes for my sister when she was in drama and I remember her making a pinata for my first grade class. She was an amazing cook and it is really a shame that I grew up to be a picky eater. She loved to cook and Thanksgivings and Christmas dinners were always my favorites. She made homemade cinnamon rolls from scratch on Christmas mornings.
She was involved with the Beta Sigma Phi sorority for many years. I've been told that she was fairly shy when she was younger, but once she got involved with Beta Sigma Phi, she came out of her shell and was fairly outgoing. She was often nominated as social hostess because she always had great ideas for parties. She would often do gag gifts for people she worked with and would write silly poems to go with them.
She worked hard all her life. In Perryton (where I was born and lived for six years) she waited tables at K-Bob's. When we came to Amarillo in 1976 she again worked at K-Bob's to bring in money until we got on our feet. (My parents declared bankruptcy due to a law suit by a family member.) Later my dad went to work for IBP (now Tyson) and my mom got a job in the scale house there. Although she moved up in job titles, she worked there for 26 years.
My mom and I weren't really close so to speak, but she was a good mom and always made sure my needs were met. When I wanted to go on the Washington DC trip in the 9th grade, she made sure we had to money to pay for it. She loved doing things for people. I think that brought her the most joy. (I've inherited that bit.) She was kind to everyone. My ex-husband adored my mom and all the meals she made for him. I think if she had more choice in a career, she would have loved to be a baker or caterer.
Although it wasn't apparent to me as a child, she was fairly religious. She didn't get back involved in church until I was in high school or college, but it was a big part of her life and many people in her church looked up to her. She was raised Pentecostal (I think), then attended the Methodist Church, but in the later years attended the Baptist church.
In March of 2003 she was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. The doctor gave her a prognosis of up to two years at the time. Once we started doing research, we realized that two years was very unlikely. She smoked for 42 years. She wouldn't go to the doctor for a long time and by the time she did go (because she blacked out at work) it was too late to do anything about it. She did chemo to slow the progress, but a cure was impossible. She managed to hold on another 8 months. Throughout this time, she continued to work until about three weeks before she passed away and she lost the ability to walk when the cancer hit her spinal cord. I think that was the hardest part for her because she had been so active most of her life and always taking care of other people. Even when she was told she only two weeks to a month left, she still tried to take care of everything. She made all her funeral and cremation arrangements beforehand so that we wouldn't have to deal with it. Even when in hospice she would ask everyone if they had enough to eat.
She wasn't afraid in death. Her faith helped her get through it. In hospice she was often saying "Let's get this show on the road." One night when it was my turn to stay overnight with her, she started talking about church songs. I wrote them down and that is what Josh and I played at her funeral. She wasn't very lucid at the time - going in and out of consciousness and often talking nonsense. At one point she was talking about random websites that didn't make sense and then something about putting the dinosaurs in the cage. (I think that might have had something to do with Josh since he was obsessed with dinosaurs when he was little.) She passed away on November 22, 2003. We had a memorial service a week later. My aunt, Josh and I had made plans to go to San Diego for Thanksgiving and we went ahead and went on the trip for a couple of days because we knew that mom would have told us to go. She wouldn't want us to have canceled plans for her. Since she was being cremated and we were only going to have the memorial service the family decided it could wait.
I dealt with her death pretty well for the most part. I think the fact that she was so accepting of it and took care of everything made it easier on us. She told my dad to go on with his life and to not pine over her. I have those moments now and then, however, where I do miss her. Like when I want to make something I haven't made before I think about calling her and then it hits me that I can't. When Josh does something well, I think about how proud she would be of him. I've even had several dreams about her in the past few years. It's strange, but the dreams have always been of her in her younger self. The images of her that I remember as a child. Although I can't remember the dreams, I think they were all a positive message. I do know that in the dreams she was very real.
So that's my mom. It's only a brief glimpse of her, but she was a great lady whose joy came in doing things for other people.

6 comments:

mapiprincesa! said...

Beautiful.

A big hug to you.

Cin said...

That is a wonderful story about your Mother! Happy Mothers Day to you!!

I often dream of my Granny when she was younger too! Isnt that strange?

Aimee said...

Thanks so uch for sharing, I hope it was theraputic for you.

What a nice way to remember her.

I worked at K-Bob's in high school.

Terri said...

great post annabel and happy mother's day to you!

Leann said...

Thank you for sharing your mom with us. I hope you had a wonderful Mother's Day.

mago said...

I am sorry, I do not like Mother's Day. Hope she died peacefully and in not much paine.