February 13, 2011

52 Weeks of Sharing Memories (Week 7): Remembering Mom

This is Week 7 of our second set of 52 weeks of topics for readers (and me!) to start a genealogy journal. Please join us for Sharing Memories - A Genealogy Journey We focus on memories of our parents, grandparents and others. We write for our children and grandchildren, that the memories are not lost over time. I hope you are keeping a journal, whether it is private or public, and joining us as we write our memoirs.

In Week 5 we remembered our fathers, in Week 6 we talked about our siblings. This week it's Mom's turn! Whether your Mom is gone or still with you, please take some time to record your memories of times spent with her.

What was your favorite moment you remember spending with your mom?

What things did your Mom do for you that were special?

What do you remember most about your Mom?

What do you want your children and grand-children to know about your Mom?

My mother was a character. She wasn't into being a "mom" but she was into living life to the fullest and that is what she taught me. She was fiercely independent and proud and she taught me that you cannot depend on others to take care of you. You must be self-sufficient in all ways, and make your own way in the world.

Mom was a secretary for most of her adult life but she had a brief stint in the War years working in a Munitions Factory. She loved it. She loved working outside the home. Cooking, cleaning and staying home with children bored her. She was very active and very healthy and believed in long walks and exercise. I'm afraid I didn't take after her, suffering from various physical ailments even as a young child, and having my first of many operations at age 16.

Mother used to proudly claim that she had never had a headache in her life. I suffered terribly from migraines and it was very hard for her to understand or be patient with me during my severe bouts. It was hard for her having such a sickly child as I was.

A tiny woman, only 5'2" tall, she made up for her lack of height with a feisty attitude. No one would force Mom to back down!

When she was in her early 50s she decided to retire, sell all her possessions, buy a Winnebago and travel. She convinced her mother (in her 70s) and older sister to go with her. Mom took a mechanics course to learn how to fix the car they towed behind them.  They travelled all over N. America and Mexico for many years. Mom did all the driving, Lily (her sister) did the cooking and cleaning. They were even written about twice in Motor Home Magazines!

Mom in her 80s
in S. Africa

Mom loved adventure and when she was 80 she decided to hike through Australia with nothing but a pink Barbie backpack. She wanted a hot air balloon ride for her 80th birthday and was determined to do it in Australia. So off she went! On her own.

That was the start of 10 years of constant travel. Every year she took one major trip - to S. Africa, to Russia, to China, New Zealand, back to Australia, to Denmark, Sweden, Finland and many other places. In between her big trips she took what she called "little jaunts" - to England, New York, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Alaska... I can't remember everywhere she went, it seemed she was always off somewhere.

She usually went alone, sometimes she booked a tour, but S. Africa she did on her own which was very worrisome to me. Her last big trip was around age 90 when she and her younger sister went camping in the Australian outback for 2 weeks. Everyone in the group was in their 30s except Mom and her sister. When she came home from that trip she admitted that it was very difficult (unusual for Mom to admit something was too hard for her!) and that she didn't think she could do the big trips anymore.

At age 60 she learned to fly an airplane and was within a few hours of getting her pilot's license when she stopped the lessons. I don't know why, Mom would never let on she couldn't do something, but she might have quit simply because she only took the lessons so she could fly the ultralight that she and her companion were building!

Godfrey, Mother & UltraLight
In her 70s she moved to British Columbia with her companion and they began going on little impulsive adventures. She phoned me once from a highway en route to Alaska. She and Godfrey (her companion) had decided on the spur of the moment to take a pup tent and go to Alaska so off they went.

Another time she phoned from somewhere on the West coast of America, saying she was on her way to the Rose Bowl Parade. She and Godfrey had gone to Tim Horton's for a coffee and over coffee decided to get in the truck and start driving until they reached California. They didn't even go home to pack a toothbrush or clothes, they left from the Coffee Shop.

When she would visit me at my home she'd bring a tent and pitch it in my backyard. I was horrified the first time that happened, and begged her to come inside and sleep in my guest room. She refused, saying she preferred to sleep under the stars. I was very upset and told her the neighbours would think I was a horrible daughter. She smiled, patted my hand and said "Dear, just let me do my own thing"

And that was my mother - doing her own thing until her death at age 93. A character who led an active, full and interesting life!


kbea831 said...

Your mother sounds very fascinating and I enjoyed reading your post.

PalmsRV said...

Wow! Talk about living life to its fullest. Self-sufficient and impulsive is a powerful combination.


ChristyLyn said...

Oh so glad I stumbled upon your blog! You havve some wonderful ideas!!! Sometimes I stop researching because it gets all too big!! I forgot that I need to journal and write things down for my kids. I want to know everything about my gramma and great gramma yet I cannot forget about my kids. I love this 52 weeks of memories. Thank you!