Thanks, Mom

Today is my birthday.  I guess when you reach a certain age, you spend more time looking back and evaluating rather than looking ahead with anticipation.  My age and my mind would suggest that I’m at the half-way point between the two.  This year I’ve spent a significant amount of time thinking about my mom.  After all, she’s the primary reason I’m here.

I’m not sure what started me thinking about these things.  But I do realize I haven’t given it much thought until just recently.

Here’s how 1963 went for her.  She’s 19 and will turn 20 in November.  She meets the boy (he just turned 19) who would become my father, they fall in love immediately and are married just a few days later.  None of the parents approve of the whirlwind romance and marriage so they sneak off and have a neighbor serve as the witness.

She gets pregnant almost immediately.  I was 27 when Curtis came along and 30 when Travis was born.  Even at those ages, I felt wholly unprepared for parenthood.  I can hardly imagine what it would have been like to be 19 and expecting a baby.  While all this is happening, tensions are mounting in Viet Nam and people my dad’s age are worried about being sent to war.  Thankfully, these fears were lessened because he had a job on the railroad, working with my grandfather and the railroad was still considered an essential service and therefore exempted people from the draft.

In the fall, the Dodgers swept the Yankees in the World Series and the Cubs finished in 7th place.

November rolled around and at the height of being pregnant, the president was killed.  I know from reading about that time and those weeks following Kennedy’s assassination, the stress level of people in this country was at an all time high.  A week later, Mom turned 20 and I can’t begin to think about what she was thinking during that period of time.

I made it into this world a few hours before leap year, 1964, and the rest is history.  Mom and Dad did a fine job raising my brother and me.  We were the first two in our family to go to college.  We both ended up with advanced degrees and have adequate lives.  In addition, we both know how to cook, clean, and wash dishes.  A product of having a mother who worked and taught us to be independent.

Dad died in his early 40s and after that, Mom went to Ames and became the housemother at my brother’s fraternity.  There, she inherited another family of boys who challenged her in different ways, but she loved every minute of it.  Today, she and her husband Don, do whatever they feel like doing and that’s just how it should be.

Thanks, Mom!