Here we are, the Three Musketeers. That’s what Mom called the three of us, after Dad passed away. Mom said we were the three women in Dad’s life- his mother, his wife, and his daughter. She used to say the three of us were making our way together like the Three Musketeers.
I found this photo last night while going through slides. I just stared at it good and long. There we are, our first Easter after Dad died. And there is Mom standing tall, dressed all pretty, smiling while in the middle of an obvious lupus attack. Her face is all swollen, and I remember when a lupus attack hit, often she would have a fever spiking at 103 degrees or so. Mom would tell me her head felt like it was swollen from the inside, wobbly on her shoulders. And she would have an enormous headache.
In the slide just before this one, you can see the lupus even more so, a solo picture of Mom which John took. And in front of Mom are the same delicious looking, homemade cupcakes which appear in Easter pictures going back to 1954, Steve’s first Easter. There is a display of eggs we colored, and the table looks so pretty. It was my first year without an Easter basket. Mom suggested we pick out my stuffed bunny together that year, and we did. She asked me if I wanted something a little extra instead of a basket. I asked for Paul McCartney’s lp “Ram,” which I’m holding in the picture.
We woke up, no egg hunt that year for the first time. No Dad. But we got dressed up and went to church. John bought the three of us corsages. He was good this way. None of us could “fix it” but we all tried in our little ways to put one foot in front of the other. Mom reminded us that Easter was about Jesus, and the message was just as important this year, maybe more so, because now Dad was enjoying Christ’s heavenly promise.
During this time, and in spite of multiple lupus flair ups, Mom was going every day to West Valley Occupational Center in order to re-enter the work world full time, after being home with kids for 24 years. She had wanted to be a working Mom, but Dad wanted her home, so she stayed home. That’s how it was. Sometimes Mom mentioned how unfair it was, that if she had been allowed to continue at the phone company she would have been a supervisor by now, dragging in good pay. Instead, she was slogging back to school, learning new computer skills (word processor), polishing up her typing and ten key, and learning medical terminology. Grandma and I would test Mom on her words at night, the medical words. And sometimes she felt she couldn’t do it. But she did. She left West Valley with an award for determination. I was so proud of her.
In fact, it was funny because when she went in, initially, they had her take an aptitude test. She prayed and asked Dad to be with her. It wound up she scored highest in ability- that is, her number one choice for a job- was in agriculture, like Dad!! Mom laughed and said, “Edmund, when I asked you to help me, I didn’t mean this!” Mom’s second choice was… they told her she would make a good cowboy! haha! So Mom went out and bought a Mr Bill pin, a cowboy, and he was shooting himself in the foot. Mom wore that all the time to class. “Honey, you’ve gotta laugh,” she’d say.
When Mom tried to get a job in a doctor’s office, an oncologist, the office manager told her she was too close to the tragedy of losing my Dad, and that it was maybe a bad idea to work in a doctor’s office. So Mom worked for Mr Weston instead, up at the Westlake Landing. He was nice enough, but when he said Mom would not have a vacation the first year, she quit. “I told him my daughter needed me to have a week off, that she just lost her father this year. He said no, so I quit.”
All these thoughts and memories come back looking at this Easter picture, the whole time, things going on. Mom was the glue which held us together. She kept us looking nice, going to church, and kept things as “normal” as life could be, considering we all were gutted from missing Dad. What I see in this picture is all Mom’s tremendous courage. There she is, swollen from lupus, not knowing what job she would find, kids to raise, and she has the courage to dress up, bake cupcakes, and think of others. That all of us could be so courageous.
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