When I posted about my mother, I had no idea it was going to lead to a better understanding of myself.
But as in all things, where we come from is a good indication of where we are headed as well: to healing, overcoming difficulties, and following our internal impulses.
I thank my mother for what she did, acting toward her dreams despite all difficulty and circumstances.
All About Mother
This is my own mother, age 22, in 1950 (approximately). She was single here, hanging out at Rock Rimmon Pool in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she often competed in city and statewide swimming trials.
She married my father in the following year, an ex-marine from the Korean War, and went on to have 8 children.
She ran a tight ship. The house was always immaculate, she prepared 3 meals a day for us, including lunches we took to school. She taught us all how to knit, crochet, embroider and sew. She brought us to piano lessons, chorus and cheerleading practice, and countless baseball, soccer, softball and hockey practices. She had 6 siblings of her own, all pretty close by, and we had tons of family events with cousins and aunts and uncles, constantly.
In 1976, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and at that time, it was unheard of. Later we've learned, that doctors were prescribing high doses of estrogen to menopausal women in those years, and 80% went on to develop breast cancer.
9 months after her diagnosis, and a radical massive double-mastectomy, she opened her own business, a small shop downtown that focused on 3 crafts: quilting, rug-braiding and toll painting, all traditional New England crafts.
She worked at the shop all day, and taught classes in these crafts in the evening, 4 nights a week. She never missed making any of those 3 meals a day for all of us, ever.
She outlived her prognosis of only having 3 -5 years left to live, and went on for another 17 years.
The shop became a beacon for women all over New England, who would drive for hours sometimes, just to come to the shop, and listen to each other. They would sit around the quilting table upstairs while the classes were going on, and talk about their lives. They hadn't anywhere to go to talk about these things. The shop was called "The Heritage House", and my mother would come home and say, "It's the Therapy House". I know she helped so many, just by being a cancer survivor, and moving on toward her dreams, no matter what any doctors said about anything.
When she died, the Catholic Church, St. John the Baptist in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she was baptized, all her children were baptized, was filled to the brim with people who's lives she had touched. I never knew this about her. I didn't know that part. That she was the head of so many craft organizations, started the Quilting Guild of New Hampshire, and so many other things.
She had to keep her accomplishments quiet at home, because in my father's generation, he thought she should never have left the house, and should have stayed there, continuing to prepare those meals, and keep the carpets vacuumed. I'm glad she followed her will, and did what she wanted to do, in her lifetime.
I will always honor her. Times were often tough, but like so many women of that generation, you did what society expected of you, and that very narrow vein of acceptability was not always entirely satisfactory.
To this day, when I hear "Claire du Lune", the Debussy piece which was always her favorite, which my sister was playing on the living room piano, when she finally died, letting go of the battle, I will come to tears. I love you ma. I feel you in heaven, and I'm so happy you're finally at peace and happy now.