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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mother of Mine

Helen Louise Erb vonOhlen
as a teenager, about 1932

Today would have been my Mother's 93rd birthday. It is hard to believe she has been gone for almost 20 years. We expected her to live as long as her parents and grandparents and great aunts - well into her 90's. Her sudden passing, just a year after her own Mother's death, made us truly see that life is very short and each day is a gift. Take nothing for granted, as things can change in the blink of an eye.

I'll always be grateful that both my parents taught my three sisters and me many things, most of all to be responsible and self-reliant. We were not allowed to sit down for a meal until our farm animals had been fed. We were not allowed to get our driver's licenses until we could change a tire by ourselves. There would be no worries about any of us being stranded by the side of a country road with a flat tire!

Mother was the one who taught me how to sew, as she did my three sisters. Using the unthreaded machine, we had to be skilled enough to stitch on the lines of a sheet of tablet paper before we were allowed to sew on cloth. We couldn't afford to waste fabric.

The four of us were soon making most of our own clothes, easing the burden on Mother who had made everything from our snow suits to school dresses. When Daddy would go to town to buy feed, Mother would always ask him to buy three sacks alike, as it took three to make a dress. We girls had many frocks made from feedsacks, but my favorites were always plaid with puffed sleeves and white pique' collars.

Mother had been a 4-H leader so was exacting. There were many sighs of frustration as I stood on a diningroom chair so she could properly 'fit a pattern' or pin up a hem. I was impatient, and soon began to long for just one piece of clothing from Henderson's Department Store in downtown Sycamore. Silly girl!

I miss my Mother every day. I'm especially sad that she and my father didn't see their grandchildren grow up. Sadly still is that the grandchildren missed out on sharing the lives of these two wonderful people.

Once upon a memory
Someone wiped away a tear,
Held me close and loved me,
Thank you, Mother dear.

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