Saturday, February 26, 2022

For you, Mom. Happy Birthday!

I'm thoughtful today, steeped in memory and gratitude. February 26 is my mother's birthday. If she were still with us, she'd be 97. As it was, she made it to 93 and left a legacy of a long life, well lived. 

Mom was of the Greatest Generation. Like others of her era, born in the wake of WWI, she lived through the Great Depression and came of age in time to see her brothers and friends march off to fight in the Second World War. It was a tough time to struggle through and it raised tough people. Mom was a good example.

My mother lost her father when she was just seven years old. She saw older brothers drop out of school to work and support the family. She too went to work, at one thing and another, from a very young age, largely supporting herself and contributing to the family income while still in high school, but she stuck it out and earned her diploma,

The new war raged when she graduated and she went to work as a military file clerk. By the time she was 19, Mom was in charge of all the records at Williams Air Force Base. A possible career in government service beckoned, but in her heart of hearts, Mom yearned for higher education.

When the war ended, she took her savings and joined a group of friends who were going away to school. She knew she didn't have enough money to earn a degree, but she wanted to learn all she could. Over time, with periods out to rebuild her bank account, she completed most of a teaching credential. When she and Dad married, they returned to school on his G.I. Bill. Mom graduated the same day Dad did, and I crossed the stage with them both, carried under her heart to be born the following winter. She passed her love of learning to me.

I hardly ever saw her when she wasn't working at something. Even during quiet evenings when she sat in front of the TV, she was knitting or quilting, making rag rugs, or doing some kind of productive handwork. During her last years, when blindness stole her ability to enjoy the detailed work she had always done, she filled her time listening to books, learning as always.

My daughter always dreamed of the day when she and her daughter could join Mom and me for a four-generation portrait. The portrait finally happened only two days before my mother passed. It wasn't the formal image we had imagined, but it's a treasure we will always cherish.

My mother left me with a legacy of love: love of learning, of words, reading and writing, love of family and love of God. I can only hope to do as well for those who follow me. Happy birthday, Mom,

Susan Aylworth is the author of more than 20 novels. Over the Rainbow, a prequel to the Rainbow Rock Romances, is available free to everyone who subscribes to her newsletter on her website: Contact her on her Facebook author page or via or join her on Twitter @Susan Aylworth.

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