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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Sunday, May 13 2001


A new weekly feature

David Caldwell, whom you on this list know from his frequent and well-liked notes from Nanty Glo (Jackson Township, actually, just above town), has been enlisted to provide a weekly postcard for this space to give both you and me a day off. This reminiscence on his mother in observance of Mother's Day is his first in this space under his own logo.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

My Mother

My mother died at age 86 when I was 57. I married late, so I lived with Mom and Dad till Dad died, then Mom and I took care of each other. When I did marry, Mom lived with my wife and me till the day she died. In fact, she died in our arms.

Like most women in a community such as Nanty Glo, Mom worked hard all day caring for children and keeping the house going while Dad worked at the mine. Although Mom had the inconvenience of blindness for most of her adult life, she did most of the work most other mothers did. She washed clothes every Monday. That meant heating boilers of water for the wringer washer and filling a rinse tub next to the washer and then taking the clothes out to hang up for drying or stringing a line through the kitchen in the winter to get the clothes dry. On Tuesdays, she would iron and mend.

Many of you whose fathers were pick-coal miners can probably remember the layers of patches on the knees of their work pants. On Wednesdays, Mom would continue with her mending as well as bake bread. When I was young, I always thought it was a treat to have bread from the store. Now that I am older, and hopefully wiser, I consider it a treat to have homemade bread.

Mom spent the end of the week cleaning and repairing and keeping us five children out of trouble. No matter what chore Mom was doing, when mealtime came, she would put her work aside and prepare something for us to eat. We always ate our meals together as a family. Every meal began with a prayer of thanks. One thing different for my mother was that Dad did all the shopping.

Not till my eyesight began failing did I realize how difficult it was for Mom to keep our household running as well as she did. I will always be thankful that my wife and I, with the help of my sisters, were able to care for Mom at home. Toward the end, it became very difficult. Parkinson's Disease slowly took away her ability to walk or eat without help and for most of the last year it took away her speech. Losing her speech was probably the toughest blow of all for her and us kids. She couldn't communicate her needs to us and we all became very frustrated.

For the last few months, we had to do everything for Mom, including turning her in bed to avoid getting bedsores. It was while we were turning her that she fought for her last breath. My wife looked at me and said softly, "Mom's dying. Should I call 911?" I swallowed back the lump in my throat and answered, "No, let her go in peace." I knew that even though Mom had a living will, if we called 911 the paramedics would attempt to revive her. For those of you who don't know, the attempt to revive a person is a very brutal process often resulting in broken ribs and punctured lungs.

Mom lived a good, dignified life. She deserved a dignified death. Letting go and letting her go at that time was the right decision, even though it was very painful for us. Mom left a wonderful legacy and lives on through her many offspring.

—David Caldwell

Mothers' white hair

One day a little girl was sitting watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast to her brunette head. She looked at her mother and asked, "Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?"

Her mother replied, "Well, every time you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white."

The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then asked, "Momma, how come all of grandma's hairs are white?"

Sent by Virginia in Millville

For all mothers

This is for all the mothers who froze their buns off on metal bleachers at football games Friday night instead of watching from cars, so that when their kids asked, "Did you see me?" they could say, "Of course, I wouldn't have missed it for the world," and mean it.

This is for all the mothers who have sat up all night with sick toddlers in their arms, wiping up barf laced with Oscar Mayer wieners and cherry Kool-Aid saying, "It's OK honey, Mommy's here."

This is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they'll never see. And the mothers who took those babies and gave them homes.

For all the mothers of the victims of the Colorado shooting, and the mothers of the murderers.

For the mothers of the survivors, and the mothers who sat in front of their TVs in horror, hugging their child who just came home from school, safely.

For all the mothers who run carpools and make cookies and sew Halloween costumes. And all the mothers who don't.

What makes a good Mother, anyway?
Is it patience?
Broad hips?
The ability to nurse a baby, cook dinner, and sew a button on a shirt, all at the same time?
Or is it heart?
Is it the ache you feel when you watch your son or daughter disappear down the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?
The jolt that takes you from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2 a.m. to put your hand on the back of a sleeping baby?
The need to flee from wherever you are and hug your child when you hear news of a school shooting, a fire, a car accident, a baby dying?

So this is for all the mothers who sat down with their children and explained all the facts of life. And for all the mothers who wanted to but just couldn't.

This is for reading "Goodnight, Moon" twice a night for a year. And then reading it again, "Just one more time."

This is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in the grocery store and swat them in despair and stomp their feet like a tired two-year-old who wants ice cream before dinner.

This is for all the mothers who taught their children to tie their shoelaces before they started school. And for all the mothers who opted for Velcro instead.

For all the mothers who bite their lips sometimes until they bleed when their 14-year-olds dye their hair green.

Who lock themselves in the bathroom when babies keep crying and won't stop.

This is for all the mothers who show up at work with spit-up in their hair and milk stains on their blouses and diapers in their purses.

This is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook and their daughters to sink a jump shot.

This is for all mothers whose heads turn automatically when a little voice calls "Mom?" in a crowd, even though they know their own offspring are at home.

This is for mothers who put pinwheels and teddy bears on their children's graves.

This is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who can't find the words to reach them.

This is for all the mothers who sent their sons to school with stomachaches, assuring them they'd be just fine once they got there, only to get a call from the school nurse an hour later asking them to please pick them up. Right away.

This is for young mothers stumbling through diaper changes and sleep deprivation.

And mature mothers learning to let go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers and married mothers. Mothers with money, mothers without.

This is for you all. Hang in there.

Sent by Mary Howell
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