Sunday, May 08, 2011

Mom, My Role Model

 Mother's Day is a good day to reminisce, to thank Mom. So this post might be a little rambling.

I never had a role model, other than my mother and my grandmother. This is my mother, the woman who taught me to read. I'm not one of those people who can't remember not reading. Instead, I remember learning to read in first grade. My mother spent hours going over flashcards and reading lists with me. I remember the green card with lists of words that I had to learn. Mom was always patient with me.

My parents and my mother's mother were all readers. My dad bought me a copy of Little Women in first grade when I received A's on my report card. When I was in third or fourth grade and bought a  a copy of Snow Treasure by Marie McSwigan through Scholastic Book Club, my mother was so pleased. She read and loved that book as a child. Three generations of my family have loved it. And, she and my dad always took us to the library.

My grandmother kept a list of the books she read, something I didn't know until she died. My mother gave me that list. Mom encouraged me to keep a list of the books I read, which I started doing in junior high. Now, Mom keeps a list, I keep a list, and my niece, Elizabeth, keeps a list of books read.

Mom didn't go to work until my youngest sister was in kindergarden. She worked as a bookkeeper, then at a bank, but finally found the job she retired from when she went to work in the library at a local vocational high school. Is it any surprise that I started working in the public library when I was sixteen, and never really left libraries? Both of my sisters also worked as pages in the public library after me. Today, my nephew, a senior in high school, is a library page, thinking right now of going into Library Science.

So, a love of reading, a love of libraries, came from my parents, particularly Mom. Any time I talk to my mom or sisters, we talk books. I send them books. Thanks to my youngest sister, I've even given  Mom a gift of a book a month that I select from my favorites.

But, my Mom became even more important as a confidante and role model in the last couple years. My mother was widowed at 55. Twenty years later, she's had a full, wonderful life. When Jim died, I was 52. My mother's comments are what I remember, treasure, and live by. She told me, "Your life will never be the same. But, it can be just as good."

My Mom is living proof of that. She still volunteers at the Catholic school library where we all went to school. She loves her volunteer job at the hospital gift shop. She is on the road a lot, to grandkids' band concerts, plays, soccer, baseball, volleyball and basketball games. She's been to London, Toronto, New York City, all over the Midwest with family and friends. She still gets together with her grade school friends, and spends LOTS of time on the phone with her best friend from school. She's terrific on the computer, and sends me articles and links that she finds online.  She still plays pinochle monthly with the same women as when I was in first grade.  Mom was here within a day of Jim's death, and she and I had a wonderful time together when I went home to Ohio last summer. She told the family she was coming to Arizona for Christmas this past year to spend that first one with me. We talk on the phone for an hour at a time, and we laugh a lot. We call each other at halftime of Ohio State football games, and she knows as much about college basketball as anyone I know. Mom and I were the two in the family who once spent ten hours watching college football games together. And, the two of us share a memory of the coldest high school football game we ever attended, together.

I'm actually sitting here crying as I write this, but these are good tears. I told Mom that I was coming home in June for her 75th birthday. When she heard that, she said that was the only gift she needed, all three of her daughters together with her.

My Mom taught me how to read. I followed in her footsteps in to the library, the job I've loved for thirty-eight years. She's celebrated and enjoyed all my achievements. Mom has shown me how to live, and how to live a beautiful life after loss. My grandmother was a strong, wonderful woman. My mother has that same strength and beauty. I love you, Mom. Thank you.

                Happy Mother's Day


Dizzy C said...

Have seen some lovely Mother's Day posts, but so far, this is the most beautiful.

We often have something from our mother's or grandmother's to cherish, but the reading list for your grandmother sounds special and unusual.

Happy Mother's Day.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Lesa. I'm sitting here crying as I read your tribute. It is beautiful.
Love, mom

Lesa said...

Carol, Thank you for saying this is a beautiful tribute. As I said, maybe a little rambling, but I had quite a bit I wanted to say. And, you're right. The reading list is special to have.

Lesa said...

That's OK, Mom. It made me cry, too. I love you.

Ingrid King said...

What a beautiful post, Lesa. My love of reading goes back to my Mom, too, and I will be forever grateful to her for that.

Happy Mother's Day, Lesa's Mom!

Lesa said...


Isn't it wonderful that we can attribute something so important to our lives to our mothers? Of course, we can also attribute our lives themselves to them.

Happy Mother's Day, Ingrid, whether you're a mother to two-legged or four-legged children.

Inside A Book said...

Your tribute was so heartfelt and tender, it so reminded me of the poem that ends;

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.

Our mothers did that. They read from their hearts, they lived what they said, and they gave of themselves so we could become the women we are. What great gifts!!

Thanks for sharing a tender moment.

Kay said...

What a lovely tribute to your Mom, Lesa! She reminds me of you. In the picture and also in the way you described. I'm sure she is so proud of you. She certainly raised a stellar daughter.

I'm sitting here thinking of my Mom. It's the first Mother's Day since she passed last May. I told my husband this morning that it seemed strange to only buy one Mother's Day card this year, for his Mom. He said that he understood and that he missed her too.

This was a good month for us to get away. I'm kind of glad that I'm not at home today. I've been a little melancholy since May began. I miss Mom, but I'm so grateful that she was my Mom and I got to have her until I was 52. A blessing.

Take care and give your Mom a hug for me when you see her in June!

le0pard13 said...

One fine, heartfelt tribute, Lesa. Best to you both.

Lesa said...

Ah, that poem. My mother is so special that she made a pillow for me. It has a picture of my father reading to me when I was a little girl, and she embroidered that concluding verse on it, but changed the word to "A Father who read to me." Luckily I had both. We were lucky, weren't we?

Lesa said...


I do look so much like my mother, and I'm happy with that. You're right. This was a good month to get away. I know what you mean. I think of that whenever someone mentions Father's Day. My dad's been gone for almost twenty years. My father-in-law is dead. Once Jim died, the cats didn't even have anyone to give a card, too. It's a day that sort of slips by me, now. And, I still miss my dad after all that time.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Michael. Truly a heartfelt tribute, and all three of her daughters feel the same way.

Bev Stephans said...

What a beautiful tribute to your Mother, and your Dad also. It's so terrific to have parents who read to you. Mine did, although it was more often my Dad, but my Mother was the big reader in the family. Her Mother was also a big reader.

We have so much to be thankful for.

Lesa said...

We do have much to be thankful for, Bev. Isn't it nice once in a while to stop and take time to acknowledge it?

Clea Simon said...

Remembering my Mom today – and loving reading about yours. So glad she's still going strong!!

Lesa said...

Ah, Clea. I understand it was a tough day. Frankly, I'm hoping I have my mother for years yet. Her mother was healthy until she died at 92. I'm glad she's doing great. Hugs, Clea.

Donis Casey said...


Lesa said...

Thank you, Donis. I understand you had a very nice Mother's Day, shared with some very special people.

julie said...

What a beautiful tribute to your wonderful Mom. It was so heartfelt and sincere. Written words still have the means to move one to tears.

We are lucky to have your mom as our dear neighbor and friend. We are thankful for that.

Take care, Lesa.....Julie

Kris said...

You're Mom sounds like a wonderful person. I hope she had a great Mother's Day.

Lesa said...

And, Mom has neighbors she really likes and appreciates, Julie. Thank you. She's very special.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Kris. My Mom is wonderful. My youngest sister said she hopes she's half as good a mother to her kids as our mom has been. (She is.)

Mom had a very nice day. She probably spent about a total of 3 hours on the phone with 2 of us, and my youngest sister and some of her kids spent the afternoon, playing cards and visiting. I know how much Mom enjoyed that, and she said she loved the blog.

kathy d. said...

What a beautiful tribute to your mother. I did cry on reading it.

Your mother sounds like a wonderful person, as well as a great lover of literature. What a fantastic role model and parent.

My mother took me to the library when I was very young, then my father later took me weekly to get an armful of books. He read constantly all kinds of books, but my mother read selectively, had her favorites and also read about art, music and history.

I liked it so much that your mother plays pinochle and has for decades. Fantastic.

Lesa said...

And, her daughters and grandkids play pinochle, Kathy. My youngest sister learned when she was only five. When I called late in the day yesterday, Mom was telling me about the pinochle game she just lost when my sister had double pinochle. Some of the grandkids are relentless, but my grandmother was, too.

Isn't it wonderful to have those memories of reading, our parents, and libraries?

jindi said...

Ebook Gratuit
Nice thanks...

kathy d. said...

Yes! It is wonderful to have memories of reading and parents and libraries. And to have been brought up with a respect for books (actual books) and learning.

My parents taught us to love learning, to be curious every day and to always be investigating and learning about the world through books -- and I'd add the Internet now, to look up everything one wonders about.

But the respect for books is part of me. If I see a friend put a book on the floor, I say something. And I, as many readers, enjoy looking at the books on my shelves, just as my parents did and I did in their house.

My father was never without a book or two or five on all different topics. I was like that when I was younger, but not quite that way now. My mother had lovely art books and music and history books -- and she liked biographies, too.

My father read mysteries, too, which is how I started when he brought books home.

It is wonderful that you, your mother and family share the love of books -- and pinochle.

My father was a pinochle player, and played once a week for years. He taught my sister and me to play but I haven't for years. I liked it a lot.

Lesa said...

I'm with you, Kathy. It didn't take long for Jim to realize I'd call him on it when I found him dog-earring books. He had a very nice collection of bookmarks eventually.

It's so nice to have book memories from our families.