By Bruce Stambaugh
My four siblings and I were spoiled. We were very fortunate to have a loving, devoted mother. Unfortunately, not everyone can say that.
Growing up, Mom cared for us in every way imaginable. She fed us, clothed us, nurtured us, played with us, corrected us, loved us, and so much more. Those were the roles and expectations of a post-World War II wife and mother.
In those days, careers for females were pretty much limited to secretary, nurse, or teacher. Mothers were expected to be at home to care for their children. It’s just the way it was.
My brothers and sisters and I were the beneficiaries of Mom’s time, effort, skills, and wisdom. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
Life couldn’t have been easy for her. We weren’t wealthy by anyone’s standards, but we weren’t poor either. We grew up in the suburbs of a blue-collar town in northeast Ohio’s mid-20th-century industrialization.
Mom reassured us when we were scared, nursed us when we were sick, and encouraged us in our schoolwork. How she did all that and kept her sanity, I have no idea. We were five active kids, all with different needs, wants, and interests.
Somehow Mom made time for each one of us, though I remember plenty of times when we wore her patience thin. “Wait until your father gets home” was a familiar tune in our household. Usually, that comment was directed at one of my siblings, not me.
Children of every age filled our close-knit neighborhood. Many times the number of youngsters in our household doubled in number as friends came and went. If we got too loud or rowdy, however, Mom lowered the boom. She not only modeled justice, but she also instilled it in us.
Most likely I am romanticizing those fond memories. Not everything always went smoothly of course. We had personal, relational problems just like every other family.
As much as we admired our father, he wasn’t the most helpful or responsible husband when it came to household chores or repairs. Later in her life, I told my mother that she had raised six children, not five. With no explanation needed, her hardy laugh affirmed my comment.
Mom was a string bean of a woman. She cooked us nourishing meals but seldom ate much herself.
Mom could speak her mind, however. She let Dad have it in no uncertain terms when he arrived home from a fishing trip without my older brother, a cousin, and me. Having been left in a raging thunderstorm frightened us. Dad had to weather a storm of his own with Mom.
Mom was a multi-talented person. Besides her homemaking skills, she was an accomplished artist, loved to play cards, bowl, and shop for antiques. In their retirement years, she and Dad relaxed at the cottage they had built on a fishing lake in southeast Ohio.
Not only was our mother talented, but she was also a looker. Some folks actually wondered what Mom saw in Dad. Their 68 years of marriage answered that question.
I don’t mean to paint her as a saint. Mom wouldn’t want that, and she would be the first to say that she made mistakes in her motherhood. I just remember feeling really safe around her. That was no small matter.
In my youthful naiveté, I thought everyone had a mother like the late Marian Stambaugh. My lifetime experiences unfortunately proved otherwise. I wished for their sake that they had. Now, I am forever grateful for my loving mother.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2018
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