Jerry's View: I Love You Mom

I know that Mother's Day is this Sunday so I need to write about the World's Champion Mother... my mom.

What was so great about her? Let me count the ways.

She had ten kids. With the help of my dad, of course. I was number eight. He was a traveling salesman and came home ten times.

I grew up in Portland and we lived in a dilapidated old four bedroom house with a wood burning furnace and a leaking roof. Every time it rained we put buckets and pots on the floor. Rent was cheap if we paid it at all, sometimes needing to move in the middle of the night to a new place to avoid paying for the old place.

Dad wasn’t much of a provider because he had a drinking problem. We loved him though.

Mom was the rock. She read to the four of us in the afternoons before she took her daily nap. I still have her well thumbed copy of Anderson's Fairy Tales.

Like many Moms during the depression she had her pride. She did not like being poor but had no alternative but to seek relief. She and I went every week to a welfare office and got some cans of Argentine beef, a bag of flour and a tin of Rumford baking powder. She turned the cans of beef around in the cupboard so the label “not to be sold” would not be seen. Like the neighbors might take a tour of our house?

Mom had a big wash tub in the basement. She washed our clothes in it each week used her hand crank wringer nearby to squeeze out the last bit of water before she hung them on the lines out in the back yard. The smell of air dried laundry was a treat for me.

It was a glorious day for mom when we got our electric Maytag which had rollers that squeezed the water out so she did not have to turn the crank. That was a good thing because I did not want her to get stronger than me.

We were a rough and tumble bunch. Our clothing certainly looked like we had fun. Mom had an old, foot pedal Singer sewing machine which she used to patch our pants. It was exciting when dad found her a slightly used Singer electric. But it would not work when the electric company shut us down. My clever dad would go out and start the meter again.

Every so often the Singer (sewing machine) man came to the house to fix it. He stuttered pretty bad and she would patiently listen to him. She never complained but she did nickname him Painful.

Mom was a faithful member of the Mallory Avenue Christian Church and dragged some of us along every Sunday. When I was seven I was not too interested in listening to the sermon but when they brought out a tray of small silver cups of grape juice and some crackers, I was so glad. Then they dunked me in a tank of cold water.

Our house of worship had no roof. It was in a basement where everything took place. The plan was to build it higher but they never got around to it until years later after I moved to Seattle. One year I surprised mom by driving down and taking her to a Mother's Day service.

She looked glorious in her new pink coat and white purse. I got all spiffed up in a suit and wore a red Carnation.

I get a little teary when I think about it.

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