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Happy Mothers Day
May 9, 2013 - Michael Palmer
With the recent horror story that was revealed in Cleveland with the missing girls it makes you feel very lucky to have your children safe. The news also was a sort of happy ending for the mothers of those young ladies.
Many of us will not share this Mother's Day with a loved one, but we have their memory here in our hearts. I dedicate this blog to all the Moms out there.
You may not know the name Anna Javis, but we all owe her a debt of gratitude because she was the first to suggest having a national observance of an annual day honoring all mothers because she had loved her mother so dearly.
At a memorial service for her mother on May 10, 1908 Javis gave a carnation, which was her mother's favorite flower, to every person who attended. Obviously, the idea of honoring mothers soon caught on and on May 9, 1914 by an act of congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day. He established it as a time for "public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."
My mother died from complications due to chemotherapy on June 28 of 2009. She was born May 4, 1926 and grew up in the Great Depression. She always kept Mother's Day as a special occasion because she had lost her mother at a young age. My grandmother was Edith "Ida" J. Gebelin Visintainer, I never met her but from what I heard of her she was a very talented and intelligent woman. She died on Jan, 07, 1949 from a simple infection when my mother was just 12 years old.
As the oldest of three children she assumed many of the responsibilities of matriarch. Fortunately my great aunt Anna was the next door neighbor and as she had no children of her own unofficially adopted her nieces and nephews and as a result became very much a mother to them.
She still managed to graduate with near perfect grades, she got a medal from the governor for her academic achievements.
As a result there was not a lot of whining when I was growing up because Mom had the trump card for just about any hand you would deal.
Did not want to do your homework, again, she could bring the shame by the buckets. Did not want to shovel any coal in the furnace or do your other chores around the house, welcome to the lecture series of one-upmanship.
I would sit at the table staring down a portion of Brussels sprouts I did not want to eat and inevitably a story of how a family of four had to survive on small birds killed in the back yard and salad made from dandelions would be presented in her very sorrowful tone. Although I must say to this day plain white bread spread with mustard and sprinkled with sugar is a nostalgic treat, “My mom used to make this for desert back in the Depression,” I was told.
Despite the preaching, we did get away with a lot on her shift because Mom was not much of a disciplinarian. Let me temper that comment with the following: if you pushed her hard enough she would wield the “Polenta Stick” like a nun in a Catholic school with a ruler. It was a very effective paddle which kept me in line until I learned that I could outrun her. Unfortunately her last words as I disappeared through the neighbors back yard were, “Go ahead and run, I know where you live.” Probably a little left over attitude from her early days when it was rumored she was a bit of a “Tom Boy.”
She got past the “Tom Boy” phase and was crowned Clay Queen in 1950. That title is now a qualifier for the Miss Ohio pageant, so I would say it was a noteworthy achievement.
My dad seemed to notice and the two were married on October 30, 1957. A date they later had to rethink as they spent most of their wedding anniversaries Trick or Treating with their four children.
We never had much money growing up, so the little home made gifts were our Mother's Day presents. I recall one year bringing home a plant in a milk carton from school, I think it was the first grade. It was just a green leafed Philodendron, but to her it was a treasure. In the blizzard of '78 she protected it and the plant still lives today, with my dad who still waters it.
On this Mother's Day I write this column as a tribute to her tremendous and selfless love and devotion. She would cook, clean, wash clothes, put Band-Aids on scrapes, be the first up in the morning and the last one to lay down at night. She had the ability to juggle a lot of things including raising children, working a job, managing a home, and very rarely took time for herself.
Her favorite Bible verse for the occasion was Ephesians 6:1-3. Her favorite poetic verse was a familiar one:
M is for the Many things she gave me, O means only that she's growing Old. T is for the Tears she shed to save me, H is for her Heart of purest gold. E is for her Eyes with love light shining, R means Right and Right she'll always be.
Put them all together, they spell MOTHER. A word that means the world to me.
I could go on for many thousand more words reminiscing, but the main point is that in a world where Moms are becoming a rare commodity, I was lucky enough to have one of those tremendous ladies that surpass the term birth mother and qualify for the honor of being a “mom. If you also have a special mother and she is still with you, then celebrate her.
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The newspaper article featuring the 1950 Clay Queen contestants.