Daddy called Mom the Contest-Coupon Queen.
She claims it started when she was nine-years-old and won a set of Encyclopedia Britannica for her question to Mr. Science in the local newspaper. The euphoria she felt was addicting. It was the first of many contests she’d win.
Mom was nineteen when she married Dad. She got a discount on her bridal package by posing as a model for wedding gowns. She clipped a half off coupon to get her hair done. Her resourcefulness would serve to help dad makes ends meet when we kids came along.
I, Olivia, and my twin brother, Oliver, were born a year after Mom and Dad got married. Thank goodness Mom had won a year supply of diaper service by writing a jingle for Diaper Tyme. She also bought our layette for a fraction of the cost from a going-out-of-business sale.
Mom and Dad already had their hands full when two years later my identical twin brothers, Donald and Ronald, were born. Mom convinced Diaper Tyme to provide free diaper service by doing a local television commercial for them. There she was – a beautiful young mother with two-year-old and newborn twins, gushing about how she loved Diaper Tyme service.
Grandma began spending days at our house to help Mom with us four babies. “Thank God Donnie and Ronnie were such good babies cause you and Oliver were a handful,” Mom later told me.
Mom’s coupon clipping and entering contests escalated. “Poor Charlie works so hard. It’s my way to help,” she told everyone. She won a year supply of peanut butter, magazine subscriptions, a freezer, photography package, and more things than I can remember.
I think Mom was the only mother who took scissors to every pediatrician appointment so she could clip coupons from the magazines in the waiting room. I have early memories of Daddy swinging me in the air, asking, “Well, Olivia, what kinda bargains and contests did Mommy win today?”
We appeared on television again, but not for a commercial this time. When Oliver and I were four, and Donnie and Ronnie were two, Mom had her third set of twins – identical girls, Marlene and Darlene. Mom loved cutesy twin names. I guess it’s rare for a woman to have three set of twins in a row, especially without fertility drugs.
Dad and Grandma brought us four toddlers to the hospital. Television crews arrived to film us while Mom held Marlene and Darlene in each arm. Watching those clips now, I’m amazed at how young and serene my mother looked, and how youthful and handsome Dad was.
What captured America, though, was when the reporter shoved a microphone in Dad’s face and asked, “Mr. Forrest, is it going to be difficult to support a family this size? I’m sure with six kids, mostly all babies, your wife can’t work.”
Dad flashed that movie star grin and said, “Kathy is a coupon-clipping, contest-winning gal, so I’m trusting she’ll be hard at it. I swear my wife found a Two-For-The-Price-of-One coupon on babies. I don’t know how else to explain all these twins since neither of us have twins in our family.”
This comment from Dad sent that local television interview nationwide. Everybody wanted Mom and Dad to be a spokesperson for their products. We got diapers – disposable diapers were just getting started – baby food, laundry supplies, grocery products and playground equipment.
We rode a wave of fame for about a year, then it settled down. Mom continued clipping coupons and won more contests. She won a minivan from TreeTop Car Sales by staying awake in a tree house longer than anyone else. She lasted forty hours. When asked how she managed to stay awake that long, she replied, “I’m the mother of multiple twins. I’m used to going without sleep. Besides, we desperately need this van.” A local gas station loved her spunky attitude and gave us a year supply of gasoline.
I became the bossy older sister. Grandma would babysit while Mom went shopping. Grandma always said, “Kathy, take missy smart mouth Olivia with you.” It wasn’t until I was older that I realized it wasn’t a compliment when Grandma called me that.
Our house was noisy but full of love and laughter. Mom never worked outside the home, but we always had enough. She’s been in heaven a year now. I was sitting by her bedside clipping coupons for my grandchildren when she passed. She had her coupon stamped Salvation ready.
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