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June 28, 2012

Refelections on My Mother

In loving memory of Marion Frances Freeh March 20, 1923 - June 6, 2012


When I was young if you would have asked me who should win a contest for the greatest mother in the world, I am not sure if I would have said my mother. In elementary school I more likely would have said Mrs. Cressman. Each school day I stopped at my friend Sharon Cressman's  house. As I waited for Sharon to be ready for our walk to school, her mom would be simultaneously cooking eggs and bacon, tying Sharon's shoes, and packing her book bag for the day.  I would stand there and reflect on my morning of preparing cereal for my breakfast and packing my things for school—by myself .

My mother was not always the most positive person either, thankfully we had our Dad to balance things out. For example, if you came to visit her with a new haircut, or hair color, she would look at you and say, "wow it is awfully short", or dark, or light, whatever was appropriate, pause—and then say, "but it looks good".

Although she may not have been a doting mother, or always the most diplomatic and positive person, there were many things about my mother that I knew for sure, things I knew I could depend on to never change.

I knew for sure that she would always listen to me. For most of my adult life, I would call my mom daily. Every day she would ask me "what's new?, how is Tara doing?, how is Gary", and inquire about the current issues of our lives. She was an ever ready sounding board when I needed to vent about something in my life.

I knew for sure she would always love me. I'm sure I have given her many things to worry about through the years and I was certainly not a perfect child. However, I never felt I had to perform or act a certain way to earn her love. She accepted me unconditionally. She was certainly willing to call me out on things, but she loved me through it all.

I knew for sure that she always wanted the best for me. She hoped, prayed, and worried through all of her family member's lives, just wanting us all to be happy and healthy.

Childhood memories have a way of returning to us through sounds and smells as our senses take us back to an earlier time.

I remember many Sunday afternoons taking a nap on the couch with my mom. Our dog Ladybird and I both using mom as our resting place to sleep as the sounds of a Phillies or Eagles game filled the room.

I remember watching the Lawrence Welk show with both my mother and my grandmother. Mom and I sharing the same oversized chair at my grandmother's home, me enjoying the company more than the show.

I  remember falling asleep to the sound of the adding machine as my mom did the monthly statements for our store, United Hardware. This was always preceded by an evening of mom lamenting the fact that she had to do the statements for the store—again.

I remember less pleasant sounds too, like loud somewhat heated discussions between her and my father. Thankfully the number of these discussions was greatly surpassed by the number of their kisses.

I remember the smell of Vicks Vaporub as my mom put it under her nose every night before she went to sleep. I found myself buying some last week, not sure if it was my allergies or something more.

I remember the sound of my mother calling my dad up from the store to eat dinner through the intercom. This was sometimes accompanied by the smell of liver cooking in the oven. That smell I certainly do not want to revisit.

All of these sounds and smells, both the good and the bad, filled a home where I knew I was safe. I knew I had parents who loved each other and loved me.

My mother taught me the love of reading, playing board games and putting puzzles together. I believe she scratched my back almost every day of my life when I was little. Dad would do it too but I appreciated mom's nails more for this job.

When I was born my parents were 40 and 45 years old. My dad would call me the caboose of the family and joke with customers and friends that I was sent to keep them young. Although they joked they also had a fear of not living to see me grow up. I remember I didn't actually know how old they were for a long time. My husband Gary will attest to how this has created a fear of abandonment in me.

I just want to say thank you to God for allowing both of them to live for 89 years. I may not be quite fully grown up, but I am close!

Gary will often look at me after I do or say something and respond, "you look just like your mother", or "you sound just like your mother".  As my Mother was almost 41 years older, these comments never really sat well with me.

Maybe I will look at them a little bit differently as I realize—I had a mother who would most certainly win a contest for the greatest mother in the world.