Missing Mom


Kay Reminger, Leader Columnist

I miss my mom. My mother was a remarkable woman. Without entering high school, she earned her degree in the business of life. That might sound cliché, I know, but unquestionably true. Coming from a farm, marrying a farmer and raising her children, she absolutely honed her life skills — hard work, determination, fortitude — and then taught us.

Mom and Dad had a textbook marriage. They were not saints, not at all, but we kids understood they loved each other. They first met at McKinley School in 1928 when Dad was in third grade and Mom was in first. We have a picture of them sitting next to each other! In 2009, they went Home, mere months apart.

Marrying in 1942, Mom knew what Dad needed before Dad needed it. She was his helpmate, working side-by-side on the farm: driving tractor, feeding calves, milking cows. She was Dad’s best friend, his confidante, business partner and the mother of his five children.

My oldest brother, Colin Marshal, born November 1944, tragically died six weeks later. Mom never talked about Colin when we were growing up; she put all her effort into raising us kids and helping Dad. As they aged, my folks would bring up our older brother more and more often. It was like they knew they were slowly being called home, and would soon see their beloved eldest there.

A few years after Colin died, my sister Beth was born, three years later I came along, and then, when I was still in diapers, twins Terry and Sherry made an appearance. When we all grew up, got married and moved out, our mom began in earnest the career she probably would have had, had she been born 60 years later. She would have been an architect.

Even when we were all still home, every so often there would be varying degrees of remodeling taking place. Whenever we’d complain, which she had no patience for at all, she’d say, “Oh, it’ll get better before you’re married!” (It didn’t matter if it was a scraped knee or something more serious.) As for our remodeling complaints, she’d singsong say, “It has to be bad to be good!” So we’d all just sigh and go along with our momma.

My folks moved to town after my brother took over the home farm. Dad always drove out to the farm every morning, packing his own lunch to eat under a tree if the weather cooperated. Then he’d drive home for a short afternoon nap, going back out if he was needed.

Mom, intent on utilizing every single available space in her cozy town house, figured out there was a spot that could very handily hold a loft. She wanted it extended so that Dad could stretch out there in comfort, and peace and quiet. She figured if Dad wasn’t using it, it was also a good spot for snuggling the grandchildren in for a nap. She envisioned an octagon window to allow filtered light through.

Mom was determined, feisty, inventive and a visionary. (These are all terms I got from her daughters, son and grandchildren.) I know all of that to be true and more. When our mom wanted something done, after much planning and forethought, she brought up the idea to the guy who could accomplish it.

The handyman was called. This was a guy that, with regularity, set about physically creating what Mom had in her head. This loft, however, puzzled him something fierce. Taking off his cap, he scratched the back of his head, closed one eye in puzzlement, thinking. There was just no way he could see it happening. The space was too tiny. He tried to argue with Mom. Tried.

“Listen, Doris, listen. You can’t put 10 pounds of s … ah … poop … in a five-pound space!”

The loft got built. With an octagon window.

Out came our handyman once again to build Mom a deck. (He was a patient gem of a guy.) She wanted Dad to be able to enjoy being outside, hearing the birds, looking out over the towering backyard oak trees, so he’d feel closer to the fresh, wide-openness of the farm, even in the middle of town. She had it screened in so they could sit out there in comfort.

Mom was also a talented seamstress, her sewing machine whirring nonstop. Her pincushion was always full. Embroidering flour-sack towels, she supplied all of her daughters and daughter-in-law with unique, decorated towels. She always had a pin fastened to the front of her blouse, for a quick patch job.

She was fashionable. She’d buy a tie for Dad to wear when they went to church and get an outfit to match, reconstructing it to fit properly. She was a small woman. Dad would always bend down, kiss her cheek and say, “Mom’s petite!”

Mom was an excellent cook. Her porcupine meatballs were the best! Dad loved to fish for trout and when he came home with his limit, she’d clean and fry up the trout, adding homemade potato salad, with yeast rolls rising in a great big silver bowl. Her holiday dinners were works of art. She’d pay attention to detail, adding her special flair to make a visual and culinary extravaganza!

Mom, I miss you. Thank you for completely and fully loving Dad. Thank you for loving and nurturing us, handing down the life skills you knew we’d need. I’m the woman I am today because of you; you’re a lifelong blessing to me. Tell Colin we can’t wait to meet him. Squeeze Dad for us!

I love you.

(“Her children arise and call her blessed.” Proverbs 31:28)