I realize as I’m writing this that my mom’s story is basely even a sketch in my mind. She just didn’t talk about it.
In fact, almost everything I know about her life comes from that one time she shared her testimony at church for a Mother’s Day banquet. Mum was a really private person.
I do know that she met an Air Force pilot as a young woman, fell in love, and married him. He quickly agreed to take Stateside postings, but broke his promise soon after they were married (I’m not sure he could have done much about it) and was sent to Formosa (now Taiwan). She had a cedar chest full of beautiful Taiwanese things – pillow cases, a robe, an inlaid-wood jewelry box.
Her husband’s career took her to Mobile, Alabama shortly after they were married. She was pregnant pretty quickly and spent a long hot summer trying to stay cool in the Southern heat. My oldest brother Gary was born in Alabama and proudly wears a “rebel cap” to this day in honor of his roots.
A couple years later, Ed was born, and with that mom was busy raising 2 boys.
There are two sides to all stories, and I’ve heard that her husband tells this next part differently. To my knowledge, I’ve never met the man so I don’t know. And it’d be rude to ask anyway, so I probably never will.
According to mom, who shared this story once when I asked her for it, everyone in his family knew what she was too naive to realize: he was cheating on her.
When she found out, she reacted with all the spitfire that you can expect from a 5-foot redhead: she threw him out of the house and out of her life.
Divorce wasn’t common in the late 50s/early 60s; thus, my mom found herself a single mother at a time when that wasn’t cool. She found a lot of support from her own mom, who watched my brothers for long stretches of time on weekends and in the summer so Mom could hold down her office job. By this point, she was working at The Associates, a loan firm, doing clerical work. She was hella good at detail stuff.
Somewhere in the crucible of single parenting, Mum found Jesus. I think it had something to do with the backyard Bible clubs that my brothers were attending in Scottdale when they stayed with Grandma. She’d grown up in the Methodist church with her mom, but the Gospel hadn’t really been part of that congregation. But she eventually heard the good news and from then on was heavily involved in a little church in Connellsville near where she lived.
My mom’s teaching gifts became apparent quickly to her church friends and she found herself in charge of the 4th-6th boys classes for Sunday School and VBS. She had such a knack for dealing with middle schoolers and kids in general, especially boys.
My brothers were latch-key kids long before that was the “in-thing.” Mum needed to keep them entertained and out of trouble, so she taught them whatever she could to fill their minds. In addition to plenty of books for reading, the boys had chemistry sets. Mum taught them both to sew, embroider, and crochet. Don’t laugh – my brother has a denim shirt with the most incredible tiger embroidered on back… done by himself.
I’m not sure how they avoided getting beaten up at school over that one. lol I think their nerd cred was cemented right there. That, and Ed was president of the chess club. haha
Mum always maintained her own skill of embroidery and crochet, and passed it along to me. I have one or two of her pieces along with her sewing machine. I ended up developing into a cross-stitcher, but that’s a different tale.
It was in the mess of parenting teenage sons that my dad entered the picture. So these two stories are about to collide….