This weekend is a major one because of Sunday - Mother's Day. Plans have been in the making for a good while. I'm thinking of what to buy for that special lady or how to make the day a memorable one.
I remember my mother telling me and my brother, "I know you are going to give me a present for Mother's Day, but please don't give me any more dishes or pots or pans." What we did give her that year is lost in time, but I do know we listened to her.
Mom, the youngest of five children in her family, was 6½ years old when her mother died. Her dad, an immigrant from Croatia, was a coal miner. Mom told me many stories of her growing-up years. When the Great Depression hit, her dad was out of work for two and a half years.
I heard of how Grandpa and the five children planted an acre of ground - one quarter of it to raspberries and the rest to vegetables. Of how they were all up at 4 a.m. to pick raspberries to sell. Grandpa had a contract with a grocery store for all the raspberries he could provide as well as excess garden produce. Mom said that garden and all of them doing hundreds of odd jobs was how they got through that difficult time.
As was the case with most young people of that day, Mom never finished school. She had to quit after sixth grade.
Mom and Dad were married in 1939. She often told me the rent for their first house was $9 a month. By the time the rent, utility bills and groceries were paid for, they had 50 cents left over for the month. Dad was also a coal miner.
Hard work and Mom weren't strangers to each other. I don't remember my mother sitting still very long during the day.
But I do remember what she taught me - to put others first, to be kind, to work hard, to be forgiving, to share what you have, to be thankful for your blessings. And that no matter how tough things got, your faith would help you through.
I was 26 years-old when Mom died. She was in so much pain, that although it was hard to let her go, I couldn't wish for her to stay. Six weeks after her death, our first child and her first grandchild - a girl - was born.
Although it's said you only get one mother, I was blessed with two - Mom and my mother-in-law. When I returned home after my mother's funeral, my mother-in-law embraced me, then said, " I can't replace your mother, but I will be as much of a mother to you as you will let me be." And she truly was like a mother to me.
She was beside me through life's ups and downs - rejoicing with me in the happy times, encouraging me, and sharing my tears in the sad times. We had many long talks and enjoyed each other's company. As children came along, she was right there to help. She, too, was a hard-working, no-nonsense lady. But she, as did my mother, knew how to have fun.
Because of these two very loved ladies, I learned to embrace life with all its twists and turns and I've learned to live. And I hope I've been able to pass on to my children the wisdom my mother and mother-in-law shared with me.