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Memories of my mother

My dad worked in a garage and my mother was a stay-at-home mom who kept everything going. They were a great team.

She was, by necessity, very frugal. Growing up, I didn't get a store-bought dress until I was entering the seventh grade. She sewed most of our clothes and touched up the hand me downs, so they looked new. They were able to feed and clothe us and we all were given musical instruments and lessons. My older sister got a piano, and my younger sister got an oboe. I got an accordion, and, survey says, its the second most hated instrument just behind bagpipes. Darn the Lawrence Welk and Myron Florian influence on young minds.

I was so lucky to have such a wonderful mother. Every sibling has their own relationship with their mother and that relationship is always special and unique. I remember the incident when I first understood my mother was my friend as well as my mother. I was in the sixth grade and invited to a slumber party. I didn't want to go but I felt obliged to go as everyone there belonged to my Girl Scout troop, were fellow students and most went to the same church. I didn't want to go because my favorite show was on at the same time. On balance, the show was more fun than staying up all night. As I was getting ready to go, mom asked me what was bothering me. I told her I didn't feel like going. She told me to tell them she had decided not to allow me to go and to use her as an excuse. It was so surprising. She was siding with me on this issue. I felt like we were co-conspirators. This made me realize that she was not only my mother but also my friend.

As a result of this I became more open with my mom, telling her how I felt about things. She would share stories of when she was my age and I felt she was treating me, at the age of 11, as a valued friend. I eventually became comfortable to the point I could tease mom and she would laugh and tease me back. My sisters never felt as comfortable with mom and they couldn't understand how I "got away with stuff." I told them communication was the key but for them that idea was unbelievable.

Mom was well-loved by neighborhood kids. As soon as mom ventured out into the front yard the kids would show up to visit. They would share things with "their" Grandma Hagel that they didn't even share with their own moms. Most times they would score a freshly baked cookie as well. They all called her Grandma Hagel and considered her a source of knowledge. One neighborhood mom told me that when her 6 year old daughter was very ill and all her attempts seemed to not make a dent, her daughter said, "Mom, I think it's time to call Grandma Hagel." She did and my mom showed up with chicken soup and advice on how to make her daughter more comfortable.

Mom was wonderful. She was empathetic and one thing I came to realize was she seldom used the word "should." She would just listen or ask what she could do instead of saying, "You should do this or that." Years later, in a transactional analysis class, the person giving the lecture said, "You should never 'should' on anyone." I had to laugh because it seems that had been mom's philosophy. I realized then how smart my mom was. Over the years we communicated well and gave each other lots of hugs. She died when she was 91 and I was glad there was no unfinished business between us. I had no regrets. There were no questions left unanswered. So, communicate with your mom and give her lots of hugs.

Happy Mother's Day.