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05-19 Sarah Raplee – Riff on 7 yrs. Of SPAM & a Giveaway

Friday, November 23, 2012

Remembering My Mother—Strong, Stubborn, Smart

We had a creepy basement. Our oil furnace alternately growled like a bear and clanked like Scrooge dragging his chains. The coal bin the furnace replaced seemed equally forbidding—ready to swallow you up or hide monsters in its inky recesses. What looked like hair from buried creatures mysteriously poked through nooks and crannies. Shelves lined with old Mason jars hid unidentifiable slime.

Sometimes at night when the basement began to belch a series of terrifying creaks and groans, my sister and I would freeze, certain some boogeyman was about to creep up the stairs. Mom’s reply? “It’s just Casper the Friendly Ghost. Nothing to worry about. I’ll go check.” I don’t recall if Mom grabbed any weapon (her choices would have been a baseball bat, umbrella, or cast-iron frying pan—no guns). But she would descend to the basement, check things out, and return with a smile. “Like I said, just Casper the Friendly Ghost.”

As an adult, I asked Mom about Casper, and she laughed. Mom admitted the noises often seemed as scary to her as they did to us, but she didn’t want her daughters to grow up fearful. Mom was brave.

Funny thing. I don’t ever remember seeing Mom in her bed. I’m certain I did, but it’s not among my memories. I grew up in a single-parent household, and Mom worked fulltime—our all female household’s sole support. When we were little, a great aunt stayed with us during the week. Still Mom did all the laundry, a lot of the cooking, and she cleaned the house on Saturdays (a family affair when my sisters and I were old enough to participate).

For years, if I happened to wake around five a.m., I’d find Mom either ironing clothes or studying. After she graduated high school during the Depression (early since she skipped two grades), Mom immediately went to work to help support her family so her younger brother could stay in school. Later, when we were kids, Mom took accounting correspondence courses so she could get a better job. She did. Of course, it didn’t pay the same as the man she replaced, but that’s another story. Mom was smart, determined, hard-working, and fiercely loyal to her family.

Like any teenager, I had my share of rows with my mother since I inherited her stubborn streak. But I never doubted her love, and I always, always admired her character. Though she’s been gone many years, I still miss her.  Yet I often hear what I like to think is her voice, sharing the mantra she ingrained in me when I was young—“You can do anything you set your mind to.”

I have yet to dedicate one of my books to Mom. I’ve been waiting for the perfect fit, a novel with a heroine who demonstrates all her qualities. That book is my work in progress, a 1938 romantic suspense set in my mother’s era. However, while I’ve yet to make an official dedication, every novel I write is influenced by my mother. Thank you.  


Ellis Vidler said...

Nice memories. Your mother does sound strong and caring, someone to admire as well as love. Nice post, Linda.

Linda Lovely said...

Thanks, Ellis. I know how much you treasure the memories of your folks, too. We were lucky.

Paty Jager said...

Linda, it is wonderful to have had mothers who told use we could do anything. Mine was the same and I miss her every day. Great post!

Judith Ashley said...

Linda, Thank You so much for suggesting the Genre-ista theme of 'Women of Influence'. This month's post have been a treasure trove of love, truth, imagination, and creativity. While I love reading everyone's post, this month I've looked forward to each days offering.

Robin Weaver said...

Your mother sounds like an awesome lady.

Jodi said...

What an interesting and thought-provoking post, Linda. Like you, my mother was sole support for our family...not just me but her mother and step-father, my beloved grandparents, as well. And until you mentioned it, I don't recall seeing my mom in bed except for the occasional Saturday. (She worked her way up the ranks at the airforce base at such low pay by today's standards, it's a miracle we didn't starve to death!) To this day, she represents all I respect in a strong, independent woman, not just surviving but excelling in both a man and woman's world. Joelle

Linda Lovely said...

Joelle, it's hard to imagine the social pressures prior generations of women faced when they were the bread winners for their families. The older I get, the more I appreciate Mom's grit. Sounds as if you feel the same way.

Diana Mcc. said...

Linda, I enjoyed your post. Your mom was a strong woman. I like the Mantra of Casper the ghost. What a great idea for calming young children's fears.

Sarah Raplee said...

I love reading about the real-life heroines, mostly mothers, who influenced so many of the Genre-istas! Each one inspires me to be a better, stronger, more determined and loving woman.

Thank you for sharing.