2009-01-08

A Mother's Legacy



Hi Everyone,
This Monday January 12th will be the first anniversary of my mothers passing. Being my 200th post I wanted to dedicate it to her. She was the reason I started this blog. It has been therapeutic for me to write about the grieving process with everyone and your support has helped me to heal. I have been thinking about what her legacy is to me and my family. In what light would I view her life to have been and what influence did it have in shaping who I am. My mother was born on St. Joseph’s day, thus her name Josephine. I was told she was a very happy, bubbly baby and would make her mother laugh and laugh. Her mother stopped laughing when she was two years old. She died from stomach cancer. Her older siblings took care of her, but she always missed her mother she told me. She graduated 2nd in her class, had an IQ of genius. She grew into a beautiful woman who was also a ballerina. My mother married my father at the young age of 20. Being a Catholic woman in those days meant for the most part that you stayed home and began a family. By the time she was 25 she had 4 children. The first three all a year apart. When the 4th child arrived, she had a nervous breakdown. I know I would have. All that work without much of a support system around her. I think she had a case of post partum psychosis or manic depression, that disease can have psychotic episodes. In the sixties they considered her schizophrenic. My co-workers mother was labeled the same and now is only on a pill, no more shock treatments for her. As we grew up she endured many years of shock therapy and did the Thorazine shuffle as I call it. Heavily medicated. One time she attempted to take her own life because she could not stand what was going on with her. She did not want to be sick, who would. The grace of God saved her and she continued on this path of illness until 1989. My brother Jim had taken my mother to Pembroke Hospital and she received a new treatment. They just put her on Lithium. When she came home we saw a new person emerging. It was like watching someone come out of a state of darkness and back into the light. She never went back into a Mental Institution again. She became much more functional than before, we would go out to lunch, we would go shopping together. She would take care of herself like never before. She enjoyed her 10 grandchildren. Living on a disability income she still bought them all a gift at Christmas. The last 19 years with her were the best years of our lives together. So to get back to her legacy, I can see it clearly now. She was the greatest teacher I have ever had in my life. She taught me to be brave and endure what life hands you. Acceptance of others who are different from the norm and love them all the same. Today I work with the disabled. I learned forgiveness for not having the perfect childhood and realized she was really the victim not me as I often felt that way because she was not June Cleaver. She thought me compassion as she shared a story with me once. While in the Mental Institution suffering herself, she told me of a day where she saw another women screaming and suffering. She went to her room and said a prayer for her. That touched me in more ways than I can say. Even in the end of her days in the nursing home she demonstrated dignity to me. When they would come around and put bibs on them to eat, she asked me to buy her an apron. When I did you would have thought I bought her gold. I will never forget how happy she was to get such a simple item. I guess she also put gratitude in a whole new light for me. She also had a great sense of humor, I enjoyed many a laugh with her. So having thought about my mother’s legacy it is truly a beautiful one, one of Mother that taught me more than she will ever know. She has also left us with a big and beautiful family, 6 children, 10 grandchildren and one great granddaughter and her spirit lives on in all of us. My brother Jim gave me the song I put on the video. He really was the best son a Mom could ask for. He took care of her everyday. He always finds songs that we all can relate to our Mom. Thanks Jim for everything :) It is Sadie by James Taylor. I hope it plays well for you. If any parts pause or skip. I found playing it once and then rewinding it helps.
Thank you for visiting my blog and reading this special post.
Take Care,
Janet :)

10 comments:

  1. I think you did a wonderful job with the video, and it played fine for me!

    Your brother did a great job with the song, and YOU did really well with the video. I loved all the photos.

    Your Mom was an amazing woman, and I know you miss her terribly! Stay strong, and hold onto everything she gave you inside, it will comfort you and keep you moving forward.

    Sending you love and {hugzzzz}
    Kat

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  2. This is such an astonishing tribute to an amazing woman. I was deeply moved by her life. It made me think of my own mom. It had to be hard for your mom being filled with so much talent and genius IQ and a dancer and then to suddenly have to stop all that and have 4 kids. My mom was very talented and extremely smart as well. She was also headed into a professional singing career, she was already singing live on the radio in NY City and performing and had a manager and then she met my dad, fell in love and had 6 kids, because that's what women did in that generation. Having a career, or career and kids, was frowned upon. I'm not sure my mother ever fully got over that loss of her dream, although she loved us all and gave so much to us. I think it must have been hard in her generation for women with high intelligence and creativity to come to a screeching halt and not ever get back to that. And it's not that they don't deeply LOVE their kids; they do, but there was really only one path for women that was culturally accepted in my mom's generation and that was having kids, cooking, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, grocery shopping, changing diapers, doctors visits with kids, and cleaning house and doing for her kids and husband every single day of their lives. All I can say is that your mom and mine had to be really STRONG women. I am deeply moved by this peek into your mother's life. I felt deep love and admiration for this woman I never even met. I felt like I wanted to hug her. Thank you for sharing this part of your life. I am really honored. Love, Robin

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  3. Sorry, had to comment again....lol

    I have left you 2 awards on my blog http://candlesandcrafts.blogspot.com feel free to come on over and claim them if you want! I really want you to at least have the last one...

    Take care,
    Kat

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  4. Janet, this is a very beautiful post. You are so blessed to have experienced the unconditional love of such a wonderful woman. I hope that her life story will forever be a source of inspiration for you and your family. Whenever things don't go your way, remember how your own Mom rose above her situation.

    James' anniversary is also this month (on the 25th). I hope I can come up soon with a special tribute for him just like what you did for your Mom. I can feel all the emotions that surfaced as you wrote this post. I wish I can give you a hug right now for a job well done.

    Much love,

    Bing;)

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  5. Hi Kat,and Robin and Pinklady,
    Thank you so much for your comments. They were beautiful. My mom would be smiling down on all of you for your support. Your the best.
    Take Care,
    Janet :)

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  6. Hi,
    Your post was sad to read. Your mom is with God now and I'm sure she is so proud of her family. Always cherish her memories in your heart, they will help to give you comfort.

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  7. Beautiful. I cried as I read your post. For you, your family, your loss. I also wanted you to know that I thank your mother and those that have gone before this generation of mothers. We have learned and hopefully can use those lessons to help future mothers. Her pains and joys were a blessing to all.

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    Love Always,
    Kara

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  8. AngelGal's Realm 2
    I just read your blog, since every time someone purchases an ad I always check their blog first (check for content, relevance, if I like it, etc. I pretty much always accept, I just like to make sure who I'm advertising first.). This feels rather personal to me, so I really didn't want to post it in your comments.

    I wanted to let you know, your post about your mother really touched me. See, at about the same time your mother started her journey through her mental illness, my grandmother (my mom's mom) was starting to hit the high points with hers. I never met my grandmother because, you see, she died when my mother was only 18 (either right before or right after JFK was shot. Sometimes the exact date gets a little fuzzy, but I don't think she lived to see it and I KNOW it was in November.). So everything I know about her, I know of through my mom. The only thing I know for sure about her happens to be what she was diagnosed with, because my mom was able to get a hold of some of my grandmother's medical records. She was diagnosed Paranoid Catatonic Schizophrenic.

    Your mother sounds a lot like what my grandmother might have been like. She was a pretty amazing woman too (there are a few other people besides my mom and her family that I've met that knew her, though I don't remember them ever really saying "your grandmother was like X". Again, as I said, a lot of it is what my mother told me.). She was a teacher in a local small school house for many years. She met and married my grandfather somewhat later than many women did (my parents met when my mom was older than the "norm" too...mom and dad were 29 and 25 respectively...I know for sure my grandpa would be in the 100's right now---he died in '81---and my grandma would have been in her 90's if not the 100's now. My dad's parents are still just in their 80's. Of course, I won't point out the gap between my parents and my in law's ages either, hee hee). She went from working to being a SAHM (my grandpa was an "old Swede". He came from Sweden when he was a boy) to 2 girls they had rather quickly. From what I understand, a lot of their childhood was rather scary, they never knew which mom they were coming home to. My mom relates many times when she would be out playing by herself, while her sister would be holed up in her room. From about the time my mom was 13 to when she was 18, she was in and out of the local mental hospital. She died at home though, of a cerebral hemorrage (she's never related it to me, but she has told my dad about it because he's the one that one day corrected my mistaken belief that her mom had died in the hospital---because my mom remembers seeing them wheel her out.).

    Just so you understand, while I related some grim points about my grandma, I rejoice that you got so many long years with your mother. It doesn't hurt to see someone else who was able to experience what I know I missed out on---there were many times my mom told me that her mom would have loved her grandchildren. I'm touched to tears (if my 3 year old son wasn't standing right here, I might actually be bawling my eyes out right now. I'm just misty so far :-) ) because I know in my heart that that's the kind of person my grandma was without the illness. And that one day I'll get to see her, completely without the illness in her full glory, next to our Savior. I don't really know about her religious affiliations (the church I went to as a child was one my mom was drawn to in her 20's, and was a very important place for her. But what church they may have ever gone to is lost to me. It's not much of a surprise that there might be a connection or two in that denominational community in the town the church was in and my mom grew up in, though. There were a lot of Swedes, and both sides of the family settled in this area. Oh, but my grandma wasn't Swedish...her family is in this and the next county though). But I know her illness and her actions were not her fault---as your mom was, my grandma was the victim of her affliction. It just caused a lot of havoc in my mom's life that she's still dealing with.

    All this to tell you the most important thing. After reading your post to your mom, more than any other person who has advertised on my blog, I feel honored to host you for that day. :-) Corny? Odd? I don't know, but I'm touched :-D

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  9. Janet, you are such a beautiful person.
    Faith Hope and Love
    and the greatest is...and you are the greatest.

    :)

    henry

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  10. You mother was a remarkable woman and I can see her legacy lives on in you and your siblings. Thank you for sharing your mother's story with us.

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