My mom was an immigrant who was forced out of Poland in the 1940s. It was years before she and her sister and her mother were reunited with her father and brother. During that time, my Grandmother held that family together through wagons and trains and boats and refugee camps complete with cold and starvation and the loss of an infant child. She was resourceful and tough and kind, which is exactly how I would describe my mom. She raised 8 kids on a tight budget, and I never had a clue we were so financially challenged. She made our clothes and curtains and grew our vegetables, and I just thought it was because she loved those things. I thought they were hobbies.
Mom didn’t get a job outside the home until I (the youngest) went to high school. And then, she was making $5.25 an hour as an administrative assistant for a small clothing boutique. Again, I thought she just wanted to get out. Turns out, we were completely bankrupt and she was trying to pay the mortgage. The bank took our house and we downsized to a condo and kept on going. Again, she made this all seem kind of exciting, rather than brooding about our misfortune.
Fast forward five or so years and my mom and I were both attending ASU. Along the way she got a job with the State Department of Transportation and started working her way up and going to school. She graduated with a B.S. in programming and a job that led her to retire with a state pension. There are so many other things that belong in this story. Cancer is one of them. She battled it for ten years and it finally took her life, but she was at peace with her path, as always.
My mom was so ahead of her time, and would have LOVED this movement. She showed me how to be resourceful and tough and kind. She didn’t teach me. She showed me.