By Bruce Stambaugh
My four siblings and I were very fortunate to have the mother we did growing up.
The two decades that followed World War II were some of the most eventful yet tumultuous of the 20th century. However, I don’t remember feeling afraid in our modest household. I think Mom helped us stay focused on the positive aspects of life.
Mom, along with Dad, trusted us. Yes, we had rules, but they weren’t suffocating to us energetic, adventuresome youth. They just kept us connected and safe. We were taught to be polite, seek justice fairly, and to always be honest.
As was the custom in that era, Dad was the breadwinner and Mom the housewife. Right or wrong, few seemed to question that model until my teenage years. It was just the way it was. I think I found a certain comfort in that daily arrangement.
Mom didn’t smother us, but we saw and sensed her love in how she handled every situation. Besides doing all of the housework, and there was a lot of it with five children and a working husband, Mom somehow managed time for each one of us.
She was there to mend both our scrapes and our clothes. We weren’t rich by any stretch of the imagination. Mom somehow made do with the meager salary Dad earned.
Busy as she was, Mom would always take time to interact with us personally as much as she could. Once, when no other kids were around, I asked Mom to play pitch and catch with me. She dropped what she was doing, found a glove and threw the ball back and forth with me for several minutes in the summer sun. And Mom didn’t throw like a girl either.
When we were ill, Mom was there to comfort us. When we were bad, she knew how to discipline justly and accordingly. I will confess that I always enjoyed watching my brothers and sisters getting the what for. I never did of course.
As a teenager, I felt my relationship with my mother growing stronger, better, yet different. Mom and I would regularly engage in protracted conversations covering a wide range of topics, including stories from her past that I had never heard before. Those were precious moments indeed.
Mom was as wise as she was talented and beautiful. She was smart enough to give us the space and freedom we each needed to find our own way in the world.
Mom was more than a mother and a wife, however. She had a life, too. She learned to drive at age 40.
Mom bowled with her sisters and mother. She was an accomplished artist. Even though she won awards and sold many of her watercolors, Mom seldom was satisfied with her vibrant renderings. I must have gotten my modesty from Mom.
Those snippets of memories can’t compare though to the love my siblings and I still have for her today. Out of necessity, Mom, who will soon be 90, is now the one receiving kindly care.
She is happy. She is still friendly and polite. And I wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard others remark about how beautiful a woman she is. She always was, and still is.
The five of us siblings were fortunate to have such a wonderful mother to guide and nurture us. Today we are fortunate to still be able to thank Mom for the many forms of beauty she modeled for us all.