My Hero, My Bestie, My Role Model - My Mom

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

If you've been following my blog for any time, you probably know I've written about various important people in my life - my dad, my Uncle George, my grandmothers, my daughters.  But there's one significant person missing from that list - my mom.  I've decided it's about time I devote a little time to her today, not just because she's the woman who gave me life, but she's also one of the strongest and most influential women I know.  If you know her, you already know this, but for those of you who don't, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to my mom, Ann.

Me & My mom on her 80th  Birthday!
 My mom was born 82 1/2 years ago in Mechanicville, NY.  Those were not the best of times, in 1932 and life was less than idyllic during my mom's youth.  Mom lived with her mother, her older sister and her grandparents in a small home.  Although it was in the city, it did not have running water or an indoor bathroom.  They had a 2-hole outhouse.  When she was 10, they moved to a cold-water flat where the rent was $12 a month.  Baths would be taken in tubs filled with water warmed on the stove, beginning with older members bathing first followed by each family member one at a time - in the same bath water.  My grandmother worked hard but money was not plentiful, yet my mom remembers those as good times.  Like many during those days, my mom quit school at the age of 16 to go to work to help support the family.  By now my Grandmother had married my Grandfather and the family moved to Rotterdam.  That meant my mom had to take a bus to Cohoes to work in the factory (Barclay Home Products) for .50 cents per hour.


In April of 1949 she met my dad and on April 9, 1950 they were married - my mom was 17 1/2 yrs old.  My dad was 20.  Like most young couples back then, their first year of marriage they lived with my dad's grandfather downstairs from my dad's parents.  Eventually when things were better financially, they moved to their own flat, also in Cohoes.  In July 1952 my parents were blessed with a son, Gary.  Gary was a beautiful, healthy baby boy, the first grandchild of the family.  Then eleven months later, without warning, Gary took sick after a visit to Hoffman's Playland.  Within two hours, Gary was gone, the victim of spinal meningitis.  As you can imagine, this was a life changing tragedy, one that is impossible to forget, much less overcome.
Mom & Gary
 Happily, in time their sadness lessened and they opened their hearts once more and God blessed them with another child - me.  I would be their one and only.
Yours Truly!

My mom has always been a hard worker.  She has always worked full time, first in various factories but eventually she moved up the ranks and began work for NYS.  She spent 25 years as THE receptionist at the Department of Civil Service and anyone who ever worked for the State knew her and her brilliant smile and gregarious nature because it was her radiant face that greeted one and all as they entered one of the busiest state agencies.
Flashing her famous Receptionist smile!
 My mom isn't someone people easily forget.  When she wasn't working, my mom kept busy with a variety of interests.
Our humble home - our castle on the lake.
 She inherited her mom's love of gardening and that was evident by the traffic-stopping flower display that covered much of their property on Saratoga Lake, where my dad convinced us to move in 1967.   The lake was our home away from home anyway.  We'd been summering there all my life.  While owning a home on the lake may sound glamorous, let me clarify that this "home" was no palace.  It was a small, two bedroom, winterized camp.  Although over the years some minor sprucing up did take place, it was never quite the homestead my mom might have dreamed of, but in our house, Dad was the boss and life often revolved around keeping him happy.  Owning a big, fancy home wasn't on his list of life ambitions - for dad, home was about your surroundings and the people who shared those surroundings.
One of the things that kept him happy was being with friends.  My dad loved people, the more people, the better.  Consequently my parents spent a lot of time with their friends.  They snowmobiled and ice fished in the winter, fished in the summer, boated and socialized all the time.  Living in Saratoga and working in Albany meant long days for my mom (and dad) and mom was busy keeping a home, working full time and often hosting an array of guests, often at the spur of the moment.  Sunday dinners were a given in our house and were often attended by last minute guests like my grandparents, or aunts and uncles.  Mom worked like a short order cook and could put on a meal for 4 or more at a moment's notice.  For years we hosted a Christmas Eve gathering that would include everyone from family to friends to neighbors.....only to be followed by a big Christmas dinner for family.   Cook-outs in the summer were commonplace, again always consisting of more than the three of us.  My dad was happiest when he was surrounded by the people he loved and that made for a lot of work and hostessing for my tireless mom. It's no wonder that right after my dad passed, my mom took a moratorium on cooking!
Ice Fishing on Lake George
Nice Catch!

My parents did everything together.   They retired in 1987 and enjoyed 21 years of retirement together taking rides, fishing, enjoying the life they worked so hard to make for themselves.  Fortunately my mom was the 'go with the flow' type because she and my dad hunted together, fished, snowshoed and ice fished.  They were partners in crime every step along the way, whether that meant in fun or in work.  There wasn't a job my mom couldn't do, (then or now) in fact she pretty much single handedly managed the outside yard work.  Whatever the task though, she was by his side or fetching a tool.  They had a partnership in everything in life - with him as Director and CEO.  When my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's he gradually stepped down from his role and without skipping a beat, my mom rose to the challenge and would now single handedly manage life and my dad's changing condition.  While doing this, an already daunting task, she also took on the role of caretaker for my dad's  aunt and uncle.  My uncle was dying of cancer and for the next 10+ years, my mom oversaw my aunts affairs and saw that her remaining years were happy and healthy.  She did the same thing again for my dad's other aunt and uncle, tirelessly, selflessly overseeing nursing home care, financial affairs and more - for her husband's relatives.  She continues that exhausting task today overseeing her sister's remaining time here on earth.
On their 25th Wedding Anniversary!

Still crazy in love after all these years.........
 My mom's life has been a good one, but hardly a walk in the park.  She has stared tragedy in the face, overcame breast cancer, risen to the loss of her spouse of 58 years but if you didn't know all this, you'd probably be surprised by her positivity, enthusiasm and love of life.  My mom is one tough cookie and was one tough mom.   She was the disciplinarian in the house and when she looked at you, you knew she meant business.  She was old school and spanking was not out of the question if she thought it was warranted.  Back talk and eye rolling were not tolerated and opinions were kept to yourself - if you knew what was good for you.   While I may have been an only child and one might think a bit indulged considering the events that came before me, nothing is further from the truth.  My mom believed in building character.  She believed in teaching responsibility and from the time I was four, I had to dry the dishes every night before I could go out and play - every night - until the day I married.  When I was old enough to come home alone from school, I'd have to peel potatoes and start dinner.  My room better be clean and weekends were for chores, not sleeping in.  I learned to iron when I was about 10 and did plenty of it, along with dusting and vacuuming.  My mom is the reason I'm the homemaker I am today-although there were days (plenty of them) when I thought my mom was the wicked witch of the north.  Like most mothers and daughters, we've had our moments.  We don't always see eye to eye, but at the end of the day I like to believe we're best friends.  We talk everyday, normally twice a day.  My mom was not perfect, no one is, but it is in her imperfections as well as her tremendous drive that I get my determination and courage to work for what matters to me.
At 82 years old, my mom is a young at heart, beautiful woman who embraces life and all of it's opportunities.  She's active with the Malta Seniors, the Ladies of the Lake (which grew from her Red Hat group where she precided for many years as the Queen Mum), and travels every chance she gets.  She owns an IPAD and an IPhone 6, is computer literate and can keep up with the best of them.  Keeping the promise she made to herself when Dad died, she sold her house when she turned 80 and moved to an aparment where she can spend her days living her life care-free in an environment as frilly and girly as she likes.  She finally has the home she dreamed of!   She's always dressed to the nines, loves glitter and glamour, has a closet that most women would envy and has the love and admiration of everyone who has had the privilege of knowing her.  She would do anything for a friend and is the most generous and giving mother, grandmother and great-grandmother a family could ask for.
At Laura's Wedding (Dad was in the hospital recovering from blood clot surgery)
Although she suffers from severe, chronic Fibromyalgia, one would never know it.  My mom is not a complainer!  She refuses to let her health interfere with enjoying as much joy as she can possible find to fill her days.  Whether she's at the gym, playing canasta twice a week with her friends, having lunch and a little gambling with her friends at the Racino, mom is busy each and every day grabbing hold to whatever opportunities come her way.  She's fiercely independent and stubborn.  She's full of adventure, is fearless, inspiring and without a doubt the strongest woman I will ever know.  Mom, no matter how often I say it, it'll never be enough.....I love you and I admire you and I thank you for everything you are to me!
With us in Rockport, MA celebrating our 30th Wedding Anniversary with the whole family! (2008)

And finally this Christmas flirting with Santa Claus!  I think she's getting younger!!!

If you missed the blog on my Dad, you can read it here: http://gwfirecracker.blogspot.com/2014/06/happy-fathers-day-to-my-dad-in-heaven.html


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9 Comments »

9 Responses to “My Hero, My Bestie, My Role Model - My Mom”

  1. Amen to this article on your Mom. I've only known her as a member of the Ladies of the Lake, but I am always telling everyone I know, how she inspires me.

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  2. Just loved reading this. What a beautiful woman. Very inspiring story.

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    1. Thank you for reading and taking time to comment!

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  3. What a wonderful tribute to your mom. I didn't realize you had an older brother that passed from meningitis. I also had one that passed from it. Say hi to your mom for me!

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    1. Thanks Sue! I'll pass on your regards!

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  4. Thank you! She is an inspiration to everyone she meets!

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  5. Such an amazing story...thanks so much for sharing! It was very inspirational, to a person that didn't grow up with much family guidance of any kind.

    It's easy to see the love in your family, in all of your mother's lifetime of love. Proves that love is far more than a word; it is really an action!

    Rochel Badger @ Homewatch CareGivers of North Atlanta

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    1. Rochel - thank you for your comment. You are right - love is so much more than a word and I've been so blessed to have so much love throughout my life and to be able to share that now with my kids and grandkids.

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  6. What a Beautiful Tribute to your Mom!!

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