My brothers and sisters and I were fortunate. Our late mother was as loving and caring as we could have ever hoped.
Mom exhibited those endearing qualities for as long as I can remember until she died eight years ago. Even in her final months as Alzheimer’s took its toll on her memory, she remained pleasant. As her adult offspring, we embraced her goodness as often as we could.
As a gang of five youngsters, I’m sure we didn’t fully understand or appreciate just how kind our mother was. Still, each of us tried to express our love and affection for our kindly mother, especially at Mother’s Day.
As I recall, our elementary school teachers spurred us on with class projects that created gifts for our mothers. The fact that most of the teachers were mothers themselves likely influenced their desire to honor our mothers.
The art teacher helped with that cause, too. She had us make cards or draw flowers or paint a landscape for our mothers.
Ironically, my only male teacher in elementary school was perhaps the most resourceful. Mr. Bartley arranged for a local greenhouse to have a variety of violets for us to choose as Mother’s Day gifts. We walked from school to the nursery, picked our flower, and handed over the dollar bill that sealed the deal.
Our mother loved flowers, so I was most pleased with the teacher’s decision. It just so happened that the lovely plant that I had selected bloomed as a double-violet. Mom’s smile doubled, too, when she saw the frilly bloom.
I loved them, too. One particular red tulip stood out to me, and I wanted to share it with my teacher. Mom took time out of her busy household chores to carefully dig up the flower and place it in a terracotta flower pot for my teacher.
Not only did she grow flowers, but she also painted them, too. When my sister Claudia brought home a fragrant, bulging bouquet of lavender lilacs, Mom was moved.
She placed them in a pitcher and was so enamored by them that she also painted a stunning oil still-life that perfectly preserved that marvelous gift. Fittingly, my sister still has the painting that she inspired, “Claudia’s Bouquet.”
Mom did her best to feed her hungry flock on Dad’s meager salary. Supper was always ready by the time he arrived home from work. Her Sunday noon meals were the highlight of her culinary skills.
Besides being an artist and homemaker, Mom enjoyed sports, too. If my brothers weren’t available, Mom would take time away from her household chores and play pitch and catch with me. She threw straight and hard, too.
You can imagine with our brood that our mother’s patience could easily wear thin at times. She was never mean or harsh with her discipline, which I think made us kids feel even more guilty for whatever offense we had committed.
I’m glad there is a day designated to honor and remember mothers everywhere. I realize that not everyone had a happy and loving relationship with their mother. It’s all too easy to take a mother’s love for granted or to think that all mothers are as devoted as mine was. I wish they were.
I am glad that Marian Frith Stambaugh was a caring, loving person. And I am incredibly happy that kindness and creativity are her motherly legacies.
© Bruce Stambaugh 2020