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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Parent (11/16/06)

By Ed VanDeMark



The lady was abusive. She used words that no elementary school age child should hear. The words were horrible but her abuse wasn’t limited to words. She dragged two kids through the mall in much the same way a child drags a rag doll around the house. The ironic twist to this story is the tee shirt that she was wearing. It read “the world’s greatest Mom.”

My first thought was to say “did you buy that shirt for yourself.”

My second thought was “why did you steal my mother’s shirt.”

The reality is, I didn’t say anything. In large part because my mother insisted that I treat everyone with respect.

I have heard references to June Cleaver, Harriet Nelson and Aunt Bea as the ideal mother types. If you add in a little bit of Mother Theresa you might have the beginnings of the mold that cast my mother.

Generalities are all well and good but for a person to be nominated for sainthood there needs to be specifics.

From before my birth to the time Mom was well into her seventies she cared for one family member or another in our home. Early in Mom’s and Dad’s marriage her grandmother came to live with them. Grandma was a handful, some people referred her to as a banty rooster. Then three of Dad’s sisters took up residence in our home. The first two to arrive merely needed a home while they got established in the working world. Aunt Betty came to live with us because she was suffering from a nervous breakdown and an eating disorder. She continued to live with us even though my father was drafted into the World War II Army. I’m not sure if Aunt Betty was still with us when my new born cousin came to live with us for a year and a half. This was necessary because Mom’s sister nearly died in child birth. My (Grandma) dad’s mother lived with us for 17 years. Her last four years were marked by serious congestive heart failure. She required total care in those final years. This responsibility fell to my mother.

Immediate and extended family members experienced Mom’s unconditional love. While she was never critical, she had a way of encouraging each of us to seriously evaluate our own actions. My cousin reports one occasion on which she (Cathy) was expounding her theories on life. Mom simply said “that’s what you think” followed by a softly expressed question mark. Cathy reconsidered her life’s philosophy. Forceful discipline was rarely a necessity.

Diplomacy marked every interaction Mom had with those around her. I always got to cut the candy bar in half. My younger brother always got to choose his piece. She admired the weather man. She said that he was brilliant. He predicted 50%chance of rain, which meant that he also predicted 50% chance of no rain.

Mom had a wonderful sense of humor. It tended to be the final word on the subject. On one occasion I said “one generation older than me isn’t old because I know how fast I grew into the next generation.” She responded “one generation older than me is dead.”

Mom hosted the family for Sunday lunch 52 weeks a year until she was too sick with cancer to continue. Every Sunday was like a catered event with individual menu selections to suit every person sitting at the table.

She always dressed like a lady even when she reported to her job sewing shoes in the Endicott Johnson shoe factory. This is the job that she took following my high school graduation. Between her work and my work I graduated from college without debt.

My mother was the dependable woman that quietly served her Lord behind the scenes. Her service emanated from her love for God and people and never for awards or recognition.

Did I mention apple pie? Hers were the best on the planet. Mom’s pies were nearly always per sold at church bake sales.

As you can clearly see the abusive lady at the mall was wearing my mother’s shirt. It had to be her shirt because my mother was clearly “the world’s greatest Mom.” Stealing that shirt was totally unnecessary Mom would have given it to the lady. Had she asked she would have received the shirt and a silent prayer asking the Lord to bless her and her family

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This article has been read 656 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Marilee Alvey11/23/06
I LOVE YOUR MOM! Let me be the first to say, "Well done!" Your mom gave you some great material. She was everything I strive to be: she was blessed to be a blessing. I can tell you that there probably was no one happier than her, either, because that's how God works. You can't outgive him. You were so fortunate to live under that example. It was brilliant how you used that beginning shock factor hook to hook us in immediately and use the contrast to display your mom's excellent qualities. You've done a wonderful job! Thank you for sharing this woman with us. May her example live on in all of us.
Donna Powers 11/24/06
What a wonderful tribute to your mother. She sounds like a wonderful lady. Great job!
Carol Sanford11/28/06
Terrific story! You have a knack for hooking in the reader with the way your story begins. We need more Moms like yours these days. Sadly, there are too many like the abusive one you described. What a wonderful testimony your Mom had...one that will continue to live on. There is one thing I am confused about...my husband says that his mother made the perfect apple pie!