My winning entry in Mother's Day Essay Contest - May 11, 1997
sponsored by the Mesa Tribune
"What's the best advice your mother ever gave you?..
and How does it apply to your life now?"
What a pair we were - my mother and I. I must have been about 11 at the time, a painfully skinny little girl with a thick swatch of long, coarse brown hair. My mother herself was a tiny little lady - but to me she was a tower of strength - she was my life. There were sketchy stories of why my father left her with four children to raise shortly after my birth. She recalled that she didn't have the luxury of self-pity. She set straight to work to provide for her brood in our little village of Ashton, Illinois. Her source of income included baby-sitting, housecleaning, doing ironings and working in a nearby canning factory. I was the baby of the family and with the older children then grown and gone, it was just the two of us.
Like all families who struggled, there were good times and bad. This was one of the more stressful ones. We were without our own home - I don't even remember why, but we were renting a room in the home of a family where my mother worked caring for children. It was a limbo type of existence then. We had kitchen privileges and a bedroom. At night we would walk to the school yard and sit on the swings - remembering better days - planning for a time when we would have a home again with our own things about us. I remember I would cry, feeling that it was all so unfair. The school yard seemed to take on an ominous desolate glow in the moonlight as we sat there on those swings. Yet somehow I felt safe as long as she was there with me. I can still see our shadows in my memories.
Though idealistic by today's standards - my mother's comfort came in familiar words that reminded me to count the blessings of our family and loved ones - our health - and being together to face whatever is now before us.
Of the many perils of life that I have endured since those times, I look back to those gentler times of despair - those nights in the school yard where we sat together to hope for better things to come. Calling on this memory brings a glow of peace and calm and I think of my mother's comforting words of wisdom - to reach out and find the good that still remains when the world seems to be crumbling around us. We may not have had a home then, but we had shelter - and more importantly, we were together. The greatest blessing of all!
My mother, Anna Maria Ruschke Parker died at the age of 92 in 1989 - I was so blessed to be her child
June Parker Beck 5-14-01