[Audio included for a limited time]
Something a little different this time out: I’m giving you a writing assignment, instead of the other way around!
Come with me on an adventure.
Sometimes, the strangest things remind us of our parents’ sacrifice for the family. We miss it until we are “…all growed up,” as Bruce Willis says in the movie Armageddon.
Case in point …
The Husband and I were watching the M∗A∗S∗H episode where Charles is asked to invest in Klinger’s next-big-thing toy ideas.
Unfortunately for both, Charles turned down the Hula Hoop® and the Frisbee® (no matter how much we yelled at the TV – ha!).
Greeting card yawn fest
Earlier that week, I’d bemoaned the fact that, after all these years, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards had become a yawn fest.
In my eyes, there isn’t anything new or inventive on the market.
After watching M∗A∗S∗H, I mused about children inventing the Frisbee long before somebody made money with it.
Part of my story wrapped around the sacrifice it took, on my mom’s part, to keep our neighborhood supplied with free ‘frisbees.’
In the eyes of the world, it was a small move on her part.
But to me? It was huge in the lots-of-love-department.
Finding the tree amid the forest
After hearing my tale, The Husband immediately pitched in with:
“There’s your original Mother’s Day card. It’s one way Barbara put the family first, even though she was a ‘working’ mom.”
He was right.
I bet you have a story too, even if it’s about a favorite aunt or uncle who stepped up when you needed a confidant.
Now we get to the assignment:
Why not write a special note to tuck inside a card?
Or create a tribute to hang on the wall?
Mom, Aunt Margie, or Gramma and Grampa
won’t mind if it’s not perfect.
They will be thrilled you put it in writing.
Here’s my account. It may help you with ideas for your own tribute.
The pariah of the neighborhood
My mother was the pariah of our neighborhood in the 1960s.
She was (thankfully) divorced from my father, married to my stepdad (yay!), and working outside the home.
By the time Daddy came into the picture, I was four years old and Barbara had a career.
So, pretty much, our family was the ‘weird one,’ and no one could figure out why my last name was different from my parents’!
My mom – an engineer by trade, though her boss wouldn’t admit it – had a career that came with a security clearance.
Once I understood what this meant, I knew she was doing something important.
She and the guys in her department divided the coffee ‘chores,’ but Barbara got the toughest job (IMHO).
She purchased all the supplies.
Among other inconveniences, this meant going to the grocery on her own time and buying those huge cans of coffee (plus big containers of creamers and sugar).
High heels, coffee, and parking lots
If you’ve ever worked at a government facility, you know the rest.
On delivery day, she had to lug the whole kit and kaboodle across an acre of parking lot – no matter the weather – and walk another acre inside the building.
All this while wearing high heels and dress clothes.
Even with that, she remembered me
Always one to remember what it’s like being a kid, my mom brought home the plastic lids from the old coffee cans.
She knew I’d soon be outside playing with my friends, and we’d sail those puppies back and forth for hours on end.
See? Small move on her part, but lots of love.
Note to next generation players:
Free pseudo Frisbees don’t make it over the house.
They contentedly park on the roof. ;->
Those lids were twice the size of the ‘regulars,’ and we looked forward to them. (We weren’t allowed on the roof :->)
Years later, when the official Frisbee appeared, Mother said, “If we’d had the money to manufacturer them, we’d be millionaires!”
A loving, faithful parent
My mom was always bringing fun stuff home from work.
These were items everyone else throws away, but kids love; she remembered to ‘rescue’ them.
She provided worn out office supplies (a treasure trove for a kid), coffee can lids (of course!), and sometimes the most-coveted: a cocktail umbrella from someone’s drink at an office celebration.
Yep. Small moves. Lots of love.
“Why did you put up with your boss?”
Although she was underappreciated, denied timely advancement, and constantly derided by the Boss from Hell – my words, not hers – Barbara stayed on the job until retirement.
After I grew up and realized how difficult it was for working women in those years, I asked her why she put up with it.
It was all about … me
She told me:
“It was a good, government job. That meant a steady income and schedule, no working on weekends, and when you were out of school, I was off work.”
I was stunned.
She put up with a bad situation all those years … for me?
As I think back, I see it.
This was a huge move and the biggest dose of love.
My mother – along with my grandmother and many other ‘working’ females in the 1960s – stuck it out and helped blaze a trail for today’s career women.
Although there are many layers I won’t explore here, the movie Hidden Figures reminds me of the sacrifice.
Barbara finally made it. It was a decades-long climb with good supervisors – in later years – who worked to right several wrongs.
They promoted my mother as quickly as possible, ensuring she retired at the same level as the Boss from Hell.
I am proud of my trail-blazing mom to this day, and I’ll join you in this assignment.
One last step I must take with my post:
File >> Print. Stamp it. Mail it.