An Everlasting Flower

Losing her memory during the last six months of her life was the most devastating and heartbreaking thing I have ever felt. It changed the way I looked at life, and made me think about how I could become healthier, so I could be there for my own five children and grandchildren in my later years.
She was a teacher of pre-vocational girls for eighteen years, President of the Woman’s Medical Society, a devoted wife, and mother of five children. She was my mother.
Born in 1916, she was thoroughly, a “lady”. During the depression she was very lucky, since her father was blessed with a job at the New York Daily Mirror as a typesetter. His checks were usually divided and shared with those in need. She was the eldest of four girls and attended Jersey City State Normal School to become a teacher. She became the Dean’s personal secretary. Her knowledge of grammar was impeccable and she’d enunciate slowly, “Now, you must say, ‘ It is I’, not, ‘It is me.’” It sounded silly when we stood at the front door and she’d ask whom it was, and we’d say, “It is I, Mom”. No one else talked like that in the sixties.
As children, she and Dad lived around the corner from each other. She had always known about him, and thought her nurse friend might like him so she set up a blind date at an Ice cream parlor. He met Mom and her friend there, and when he saw Mom, they both realized their chemistry was destiny. He enlisted as an Infantry Captain as a medical doctor in WW2 and was shipped to Germany. He proposed to her before he entered the Battle of the Bulge and was honored with two bronze star medals. After the war, they married in All Saint’s Church in Jersey City. Their love and respect for each other throughout their lives was one of the gifts they gave to us. She was his ‘Dear” and he was her “Darling”. I had witnessed their talking through problems without sarcasm or without the need to be the one who would “win”. They both loved and memorized classical literature, and each night our dinner table was filled with discussions about science and about the wonders of Poe or Longfellow. We were blessed with our parents.
Sometime the five of us were overwhelming to her, since she was the first of four girls. Intelligent children are always scheming and plotting the best diversions for Mom’s. We often distracted her with squabbles and she’d call, “Mary, you’re the peacemaker. Could you please see what the commotion is about?”
Morning was a challenge! We all attended private schools in Jersey City, and my Mom stood us in line and braided our waist length hair. She inspected our uniforms for our ties and made sure out book bags left with us. That was not easy. She ‘d be there when we walked home.
I was the first girl, the second of five. There were three girls and two boys. My two sisters and my younger brother became doctors, like my Dad, and my older brother and I became teachers, like Mom. She and my Dad taught us the value of education and that you must do your best. You may not be the best, but you must do your best.
“Doing your best” carried me through life and gave me strength to get through two annulments, while raising two daughters, twin sons and another precious son. Mom gave me the tuition for my master’s degree since I couldn’t afford the tuition while raising five children. Without that degree, I would not have been able to retire early, move to Pennsylvania and marry my own “Darling”.
Mom, I know you are watching over me, and I thank God that you are an everlasting flower. Dad, I know you’d agree!

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