Mother’s Day: A Tribute to My Mother

by CJFosdick on May 7, 2009

a tribute to good mothers
Image by lastyearsgirl_ via Flickr

Most children are shaped by the women who bore them or who became their substitute mothers. I am no different. I am the woman I became because of my mother. This blog is a tribute to her memory.

To pick one word that describes Mom, it is “atypical.” In the 1940s and ’50s when I was growing up, most women’s lives were bound by their households. Stereotypically, they were judged by their domestic abilities, held down by society’s attitudes towards womanhood, and Mom just didn’t fit. For example, she was not a housekeeper. I remember her standing in the front room saying, “I don’t even know where to begin.” Our house was cluttered, but not dirty. This was good for me, because of my love of art. I’d paint in my bedroom and Mom never scolded me for getting paint on my sheets. Rather, she’d say, “It’s great to have an artist in the family.” We had very little money, but Mom saw to it that I always had art supplies. For oil paints, she’d buy tempera powder and I’d mix it with linseed oil. There are many and many a picture I painted there in my bedroom, intuitively feeling my mom’s love wrap around me.

She was a good cook, but not a great epicurean master. She could make a pound of hamburger feed six people, even though there was no Hamburger Helper. Long before healthy eating was emphasized, we ate wholesome food like whole wheat, vegetables, and wheat germ. She gardened and canned, but didn’t sew, knit, or crochet. However, she did make a hooked rug that had our family dogs, horses for me, guns for my brother, fish for my father and the Latin words, “Welcome to our Household.” (That is because I took two years of Latin in high school.) I cannot think of anything Mom ever did that epitomized more whom she was than this rug. Rather than pick a safe, ready-made pattern, she made her own.

Mom and I were always close and often had long, spirited discussions on life and living. However, many of Mom’s greatest gifts came from example rather than talking. She was my Brownie leader, and once a black girl wanted to join the troop. A white girl threatened to quit if Mom let her in. I remember discussing prejudice with Mom, but it was the example she set that brought home the message. Mom let the black girl stay and the white girl did indeed quit.

One of Mom’s strongly held convictions was, “Brighten your own little corner.” Her idea was that if everyone reached out and helped someone close by, and then if they in turn reached out to others, our world would be a much better place. Mom worked for a while at the Colorado State Hospital and often she would bring home a patient for a day. Her two favorites were twins, Patience and Prudence. I know she did a world of good for these two ladies.

Other words that describe my mother: loyal, independent, honest, caring, a thinker, valued education, supporter, and my dear friend. This barely scratches the surface of the woman Mom was. Her wisdom has stayed with me through the years, and when I had children, I tried to pass it on to them. They now are raising children of their own and I can see a part of Mom still lives on, for I know when my grandchildren have families, too, they will pass on the legacy left by my mother, Buena Caroline Dewey Osborne.

And so it is with life. Millions of American women, strong and resilient, wise and wonderful, will be remembered on Mother’s Day — atypical women forced into the mold society chose for them, yet holding America together through the generations, helping keeping the tapestry of the greatness of America strong for yet another era.

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