Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day was yesterday....

My mother was born in 1924 and passed away in 1985, way too young. She had a difficult life. Her mother died giving birth to her. She and her older brother were put into the foster care system as orphans when she was three. (I have since found via that her father was alive but in prison and suspect that was where he died. No idea why he was there.)

She often talked about "Granny" and living in Andover and Randolph. I suspect Granny was an older woman who needed a companion as well as a child to love. Another home she talked about was a doctor's house where she was a companion to his daughter as well as a maid. Most home in that era used foster children as labor and/or companions.

Reatha & Thornton Burns - my foster grandparents
When she was a teen she was taken in by a wonderful family who had an only daughter. They had three foster girls, one of them my mother. This became her final foster home and they became our maternal grandparents (and their daughter became our aunt).

Laurel (l), Aunt Frances Burns, my mother (r)
She called them Aunt Reatha and Uncle Thornty (Thornton) but they were Nana and Grampa Burns to us. They lived on Standish Shore in Duxbury, Mass. A beautiful place to live and visit.

June 1942 - age 17

My mother met my father in high school. He eventually went into the Navy and she studied nursing at Children's Hospital in Boston, becoming an RN. She was in the service and served in Key West, I'll never forget her stories of the electrical storms there (she was terrified of them the rest of her life), the lightning running around the wiring at the top of the walls.

Nursing School - age 18
They married and I was born, three years later my brother, Charlie, was born and in another three years, my youngest brother, Kendall, was born.

My father & mother (1945?)
As long as I can remember, she was a working mother, something not very common in the 1950's. When I was around age 5-7 she worked in a nursing home and would often take me with her. I remember helping serve the dinner trays and then I would nap until it was time to go home. But most of the time she worked in hospitals, Plymouth Hospital and the hospital in South Weymouth until we moved to Kensington , NH. Then she worked at either the Exeter Hospital or the one in Haverhill, MA.

When I was the last few months of my senior year in high school, my parents moved to Vero Beach, FL. I stayed with the family of a good friend until graduation, then followed them. Once again my mother worked full-time nursing at the Vero Beach Hospital and did until the day she died.

She wasn't perfect and she was a product of her growing up. No mother to teach her to cook, so to this day I am not a good cook (and don't really enjoy it). But she could keep a house clean and I followed suit for many years. (After 50-60 you realize it's not all that important as long as it's clean enough to stay healthy.)

Circa 1950-1955 maybe?
She spent most of her life trying to make others happy but I suspect she never found real happiness for herself (my father is another discussion). She wasn't a hugger, kisser or cuddler - she never had it so she didn't know how to give it. For me this meant not learning to be one myself until my 40's (now I hug everyone). It wasn't that she didn't love us, it was that she didn't know any other way.

She never met my late husband, Mike, or my current husband, Stu. But I know she would have loved them both and been proud that I finally made a good decision on the marriage front. I am like her in many ways but in others, very much not like her. Conscious or subconscious decision, no matter.

I love and miss you, Mom. I hope you have found your peace and happiness. You earned it!


  1. Loved it!
    I feel like I knew a little part of your Mom & her life!

  2. Very interesting story. I enjoyed reading about your life and that of your mother. We all grow up in such different ways and the things we bring with us into our adult life are just a part of us. It's good to know you have, in some ways, made decisions to change those things you wanted to change (hugging!). Love the old photos.

  3. Wonderful story of your Mom. I enjoyed reading it. Our mothers were very much alike. My mother's mother died when she was 27 Mom was 7. She left 5 children. My mother was raised in a boarding home in St. Louis. Anyhow, she never was touchy feely, kissy huggy for most of my life. Now I 80 years of age I get lots of I love you's and she has a motherly instinct. I'm glad she found it before it was too late. Again, I love the story of your Mom. I'm sure she is smiling down at you and so proud to have had you as her daughter. Gloria

  4. A beautifully written tribute to your Mum. I thoroughly enjoyed reading her story and such wonderful memories for you. I was especially happy to read your thoughts on housework. My sentiments also. There are other things to do in life as long as it is clean enough to be healthy.

  5. Thank you all for stopping in, reading my story and leaving me a note. I greatly appreciate it!


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