My Mother - Rosemary Maynard Woolery
The one thing that brings my mother to the forefront of my brain is her lovely, soft skin. To this day when I need my mother, I find a piece of velvet and rub the fabric in my hands, and there she is in my mind's eye.
While my mother would have been the first person to say that she was not perfect, I see my mother as the perfect mother for me. My most vivid memories of her are:
* Her brilliant mind. She seemed to have most of the answers to her children's endless questions, times six.
* We always came first in her life.
* She had rules and you followed them.
* She absolutely loved a good joke or prank--she had a wicked sense of humour.
* She was a devout Catholic with an unwavering belief.
* She had a strong sense of justice and fair play.
I can imagine my mother as a child. She would have been the child selecting the least likely people to play on her team, to make them feel special and wanted.
My mother earned her master's degree in library science. For a time she was a professional woman working at the Library of Congress, where she met my father, a librarian too. Yes, you could call them "bookends" (I say that in the most endearing and respectful way) for their true love of books, reading, the arts and especially each other.
Like so many women of her day, my mother stayed home once she started a family. As a mother myself, I can attest that the work did not end; it just changed locations. My mother raised six children, which at times must have been absolutely maddening.
In 1965 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and immediately placed in a sanitarium so the disease would not spread to her family. She spent nine months away from her husband and children. During the separation, our family tape-recorded messages back and forth. (I have never found a single tape from this period, but continue to look.) In the recordings, Mother would give us advice, tell us stories, answer our endless stream of questions and let us know what she expected to hear from each of us. I clearly remember taping an oral book report about the book I was reading at the time. My parents found a way to keep us connected as a family, even though we were physically separated.
On Sundays during Mother's confinement, we would visit her at the sanitarium. While we were not allowed near her physically, I'm sure the entire hospital knew when we arrived because six young children, about 10 and younger, would jump up and down and scream messages and blow kisses to our mother from the grounds or the parking lot. Our mother would hang out the window shouting back and blowing kisses to each of us. While it wasn't the same as getting kisses and hugs from her, we never forgot her voice or what she looked like.
My mother passed away from pneumonia on July 7, 1979. I was just starting my adult life, so I have no recollections of her advising me on professional situations. She taught me to work hard and do the absolute best job I could, and that hopefully I would find something I loved doing that wouldn't feel like a job. I did. I know she would have been proud of my choice and wanted to hear all my stories and adventures.
On the day our family buried our mother, our family priest said a few words to each of her children. His words to me were, "Louisa, you are exactly like your mother. Follow in her footsteps." I feel I have done that in so many ways that would have made her smile.
Posted by Louisa Woolery January 23, 2008 @ 2:06 AM.