Every year since I’ve been blogging, the Friday before Mother’s Day, I write about my mother who passed away over five years ago (coming up on 6 in July). There are so many lessons my mother taught me and today I’m going to talk about one particularly important one.
When I was nine years old, my mother roused all of us from bed on a Saturday morning to have a serious talk. My father stood to the side with a grim expression on his face. The horrible “D” word was uttered. They sat us down and explained that we would be going to live with my grandmother and grandfather in Baltimore. Dad would visit, but we all wouldn’t live together. She sent us back upstairs to get ready and I probably had the most tears in my eyes because I was dad’s fishing and hunting buddy.
Sometimes we could hear my mother and father talk through the heating vent in my older sister’s room, but today none of us had the heart to try and listen. Besides, we never really heard clearly what they were saying. We only occasionally caught a few words.
We didn’t end up going to Baltimore because my parents talked some more and mom decided to give dad another chance. Earlier that year, she had finally gotten her driver’s license after a good friend had continued to instill more confidence in my mom. it seems almost unreal that she wouldn’t have a driver’s license at the age of 30, but that is how it was back then. A lot of women stayed home and were completely dependent on their husbands in every way. With her license in hand, my mother started down the road to her own independence and personal development.
She got into therapy soon after this life changing moment, finished her education, became a special education teacher, and turned into the strong independent woman I came to know in my teens and adulthood. She continually instilled that sense of independence into all of us. She’d learned a valuable lesson in the first 11+ years of marriage to my father. She would never, ever, feel trapped again. Once she had her own career, she could walk out that door and never look back. She could give him that ultimatum and stick to it. I’d like to think my father never stepped out on her again, but I suppose they will both take that truth to the grave. Neither one of my parents were particularly good at telling the truth 100% of the time. Little white lies to save your children from pain was a lesson they’d learned from their parents.
While my mother attended Loyola University, I would travel to Chicago with her and on occasion quiz her during the trip. Science was not a topic she enjoyed and I remember once standing quietly to the side while she debriefed with her college friends after an exam. They wondered if the answer they had selected was correct. At ten, I piped up and told them what the correct answer was. My mother smiled. I was a whiz in the sciences and I had been quizzing her on the drive in. It was easy for me to remember that particular fact.
Now that I am all grown up and nearing full retirement, that lesson has served me well. I left home at 17 and never looked back. I’ve been independent all my life. It is ironic that at this late in my life, I feel a smidgeon of dependence on my wife. It is like an uncomfortable pair of shoes. It just doesn’t quite fit. Perhaps that is why I am not ready to fully retire and continue to look for that final job. That need for independence remains deeply ingrained.
How can I possible tie in anything to my books now as I usually do…hmmm…how about if enough people buy my books, maybe I won’t feel dependent on my wife anymore…okay, that’s a joke! If you want to check out my books…you know the drill…click on the links below.