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Remembering My Mom

November 12, 2014

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Today, November 13th, I am remembering my mother. She was always there for me. I never felt left out or pushed aside even though my parents took over 200 foster children during my life. We usually had 4 or 5 babies in our home at a time because we specialized in children who had disabilities. We had some babies who didn’t live long due to their disabilities, and died in my mother’s arms or in the hospital.  We had some whose parents had been advised by their doctor not to take the baby home, and even to deny the child had survived birth. There was always so much love in my home and my parents always had open arms to those in need. She is the inspiration for Gramma Grace in my short story The Nativity Set, as well as Mrs. Goodheart in my novel Victory.

My mother was the oldest of three children and the daughter of a nurse and a plumber. She was a gifted student and played violin. She was a member of one of the first Girl Scout troops in Salt Lake City. She graduated from high school at 16 and from the University of Utah at 18 with a teaching certificate. Her first teaching job was in a small farming town in central Utah. It was during the Great Depression and many of her little 2nd graders carried their shoes to school to save shoe leather, and most didn’t have breakfast to eat. My mom bought graham crackers from her small salary (which, by the way, was only paid IF the district had the funds to pay the teachers!) and one boy who lived on a dairy brought a pail of fresh milk to school every day.

My parents were married in 1935 after meeting at a friend’s New Year’s Eve party. Nine years and four children later, my dad was drafted into the Navy during World War II. After the war, my parents moved to a small farm next door to where my dad was born and raised. They built the house themselves. It was there they started taking foster children, mostly 7 to 10 year olds. One boy kept in touch with our family after he was grown, and served as a pall bearer at my mother’s funeral, and again 25 years later at my dad’s.

A few months before I was born my family moved back to the city. My three oldest siblings were finishing high school and attending University of Utah, so Mom had to go to work. I stayed with my maternal grandmother while everyone else was in school or at work. As soon as she could, Mom quit working and stayed home. We again took foster children, this time mostly babies.

My mom taught me how to sew, crochet and knit. She taught me the importance of loving and not looking with the eyes, but with the heart. She gave me the love of books. She and my dad showed me the love of the Lord.

I was the “tag-along” and a surprise baby, with 10 years between my next older sibling and me. I never lacked for attention and thrived with all the older kids around, even being the University of Utah marching band’s unofficial mascot. The band would invariably end up at our house after a home game, and they would raid the refrigerator and feel at home. That welcome environment came from my parents.

In 1966 we moved to St. George, Utah. My dad had taken an early retirement after 27 years at Sears. It was a hunch they had after a good friend had waited to retire at 65, and lost his wife just a few weeks later. My parents enjoyed their “retirement” in their favorite red rock area. Unfortunately, the schools were behind what I had in Salt Lake and we moved back to Salt Lake in 1967, again taking foster children. One little girl with Down’s Syndrome we had when she was a baby came back to live with us. It was a blessing to have her back. But it was not to last long.

In October 1970 my mother had a radical mastectomy. The cancer had spread everywhere. It was horrible to see my beautiful, loving mother in such agony. Chemo then was far worse than it is even now. She died on Friday, November 13, 1970, four weeks after her surgery. I was 17 years old.

I miss my mom every day, even 44 years later. She wasn’t here when I graduated high school, got married, had my babies, and went through divorce.  I would love to visit her and talk about anything. I would love to hug her one more time. I would tell her “I love you” one more time. Every year on her “angelversary” I allow myself time to reflect on what a beautiful woman she was, and how many people she influenced in her short 55 years. I have lived longer than my mother by 7 years, and I only hope that I can make a positive difference for others as she did, continuing her legacy of love.

I love you, Mom! I miss you!

Mom in Pine Valley, Utah

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From → Family, Mother

5 Comments
  1. Your mother sounds like a wonderful person. I know it sounds cliche, but those kids were lucky to have such a caring foster mom in their lives.

  2. Hello DeEtte. Thank you for writing this touching tribute to your mother. It warmed my heart. It is so very true that there are no ordinary lives, but your mother’s life was extraordinary. She left a wonderful legacy of concern for others.

  3. Beautiful tribute, loving the love ❤ ❤ ❤

    • Thanks, Janni. She was a remarkable woman, and I miss her still. Some days I think about what I missed out on with her early death, but then I remember the beautiful things about her, and the wonderful times we had together. She will always be my mom. Hugs!

  4. Reblogged this on deetteanderton and commented:

    Today is my mother’s 100th birthday. In her honor, I am reblogging this post from last November.

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