Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Belated Mother's Day Ode

Here it is, midday on the West Coast, and my mind is filled with a rainbow of thoughts about my own mother on this Sunday, Mother's Day, in May 2010. Carrie Eleanor (Ellsworth) Remmers died in 1983 at age 79.

In so many respects, I feel fortunate to have had a mother that epitomizes why mothers are honored. As a child, she nurtured and protected me from my father's wrath as seen through the eyes of a 4-year-old.

Henry Lester Remmers was king of the castle. My mother was the benevolent enforcer, drawing a fine line between his edicts and her interpretation of what was fair while still keeping peace between her and her husband.

I was not an unruly child but as a teenager was rebellious in which my brothers kidded me for being the original "Rebel Without A Cause." Through it all, I sought refuge through my mother although I learned never to confide my deepest thoughts because they would be leaked to my dad.

In those formulative years, I learned from my mother the Golden Rule, not to swear in polite company and always wear clean underwear.

When I was in the fifth grade, my mother was about 10 minutes late preparing cakes and soft drinks for a class party. My teacher made a snide remark that my mother just laughed it off as she "does everything." I wanted to kill the teacher for the disparaging comment. Suddenly, I was the protector.

She would have preferred I would choose a "professional" profession. By that, she meant a doctor or lawyer. I chose the newspaper business which forced her to broaden her definition of professional.

A teacher for a brief spurt before she married, mother would critique my writings in high school and college. She was a demon for correct usage of the language, punctuation and spelling. She never commented on the content of my writing efforts, God bless her, for some where polar opposites of her beliefs.

Born in a small town near Johnson City, Tenn., in 1903 her family moved to Hollywood, Calif., in 1911 but she never lost her southern belle roots fostered upon her by my aristocratic grandmother. In later life, when her four sons were grown, we would chide her for referring to African-Americans as the then politically uncorrect and outdated "Darkies."

By nature or her DNA, mother was forgetful or as my father would joke "vague." She would invariably call her sons by the wrong name. Once, when I had to call her from the newspaper office and in a hurry and didn't want to waste time, I blurted into the phone:

"Hi mom, this is your son Jerry Remmers," which triggered howls of laughter from the entire newsroom and ridicule I had to live with for several years. "What's so funny?"  she asked. "It's too early to be drinking, isn't it?"

But she never forgot our birthdays and those of her daughters-in-laws and grandchildren.

When Carrie Remmers died, her Presbyterian Church which held the formal services was overflowed with hundreds of family and friends, some we hadn't seen in a decade. It was a testimonial to her good nature and compassion as a woman.

Over the years, my father and I came to terms with our ancient differences and I learned the deep love each had for one another. The day my mother died my father confided he didn't care to live any longer. He "willed" himself to death. It took three years.

I love you mom.

Readers comments are welcome as long as they remain civil. We reserve the right to delete any comments that are vulgar, libelous and totally irrelevant to this posting. -- Jer

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