Looking over my blog posts, I realize not many have been about Mom. And most of the ones I’ve written about her haven’t been in a very positive light. Slightly askew. Sorry Mom. I know much of your life wasn’t easy. An unhappy marriage. Tragically losing your 12 year old son Larry in 1958, when you were only 32. I think these insurmountable challenges throughout your life were almost more than you could bear.
|Mom and newborn me, early 1951…|
I assume I was not part of your master plan. By the time you were 20, Mona and Larry had each made their appearance in your life. But birth control methods were dicey back then. About 2 weeks before your 24th birthday, you became the mother of 3 with the addition of me. Nine bouncing pounds of Denise Lynne. I think you might have regretted many things during your life. Never did I feel you were sorry that I’d been born. Quite the opposite actually. You doted on little Neese. Ok, I admit, I was pretty awesome. Before I became a world class brat. Around age 10.
|Mona, Mom and Larry. Before my birth, about 1948…|
In my memory bank when we lived in the little house on the west side of Rock Valley, we were happy. A stay-at-home-mom with 3 kids under 8. Most of the pictures I have show us as a close knit group, enjoying family life. Simple trips to the park, swimming pit, celebrating Rock Valley’s Diamond Jubilee in 1954. Day trips to Yankton and The Grotto. Our Lake Okoboji family picture in 1957 depicts a family that really enjoyed doing things together. We don’t look miserable or unhappy. We look like a well-rounded, normal family. We were going to a great church. Larry and Mona were in school, so you devoted all your attention on little old me.
|Larry, me, Mona and Mom at Yankton, 1956…|
We needed a bigger house but that wasn’t a problem. You and Dad saved up money for the down payment on our house on 15th street. We could each have our own bedroom. Yay. The first 3 years in that house were great. Dad worked on it constantly after his long day at the State shop. Remodeling, making the house into a home for us. I was finally in school, and out of your hair. You started working so we’d have some extra money. Life was good. So what happened to our all-American family?
|Okoboji 1957. Larry, Mona, Dad, me and Mom…|
I think it all fell apart after Larry was killed. It’s been said even the happiest, most stable marriages cannot recover from the loss of a child. I believe that to be true in our family’s case. Dad found the Lord (a good thing, but he was over the top about it for a couple decades). And you, my poor Mom sunk into a deep depression hole that would take you a couple decades to climb out of. And I don’t think you ever really fully recovered. Had you been encouraged to talk about your feelings of loss with a support group or therapist, it might have changed your life. Not to be. But this isn’t the day to talk about what should have happened over 50 years ago.
|Dad, Mom, me and Mona. Canton S.D. 1961…|
Here are some positive things about Mom. She never gave up. And she could have. Might have even wanted to at times. She always put on a good front. Good fronts were something she excelled at. Mom always took care of us. Her family suppers (everyday but Saturday night) were always good. Her house was immaculate. (And I do mean spic and span. Nary a germ in the place) She always had me dressed to the nines. She encouraged me. She rarely said “no.” (I love this part, but in retrospect, might not have been the best thing for me. See above: really a brat by age 10). And this was well before I became an angry, belligerent, disrespectful, rebellious teen. Mom taught me how to drive a car when I was 12. She taught me how to knit and crochet. I should have paid more attention to learning how to read knitting patterns, but she was always there to show me how to do it. She was so proud of this loser girl. Awful-student-that-I-was-and-all-around-pain-in-the-ass-shit-that-I’d-become.
Mom thoroughly enjoyed letting me skip school to go shopping for an afternoon (pretty much except for that one awful time). She liked when I brought friends home. To our unusually quiet house. I can remember Randy Vandevelde and I doing a skit for Mom in the living room when we were in high school. We were re-enacting a goofy TV commercial. Mom was in stitches, as were we. She especially loved my friends Char, Wan, and Kay. Tolerated a couple others, one who always managed to scuff up her glorious oak dining room floor. She made me anything I was ever hungry for or craving. Fudge, divinity, popcorn, cinnamon rolls, apple pie. She was immensely proud when I was selected to be a cheerleader. Couldn’t wait for that annual trip to Sioux City to buy my new cheerleading sweater for the season. While maybe some moms might have been fretting about the cost, she couldn’t wait to shell out money for my special outfit.
|Faye, me, Kay and Diane, 1968…|
Although Mom was most unhappy with my choice in the husband department, she adored the grandchildren our union produced. (I think she preferred to believe I managed to do this part all by myself. Think immaculate conceptions, times 3). When our then small kids visited Mom and Dad in Rock Valley, it was usually just one kid at a time. So they could really spoil the heck out of each one. Let them be the big cheese separately. Mom and Dad never enjoyed or tolerated their sibling rivalry. Shannon, Joshua or Adam would come home with happy tales of the things they did. Baking tiny sugar cookies, the size of my thumbnail together. Trips to Sioux Falls, the Zoo, the Falls, parks, restaurants, malls. Taking them to Sioux Center, Canton or Rock Rapids. Never doubted how much Mom and Dad adored my kids. Not always in a healthy way, but for the most part idolized my kids.
|Joshua, Adam and Shannon, 1979…|
Mom and I pretty much had a complicated relationship our whole lives. The older I got, it was as though she couldn’t help herself by intruding, interfering and manipulating in our lives. But I always knew she loved me. Mom, this is to assure you, I always loved you too. No matter what…
|Made in school, Mother’s Day about 1958…|
|The poem inside my card to Mom, 1958…|
|The poem inside my card to Mom, 1958…|