My mother was born on March 2, 1948. The only child of a WWII vet and the red-haired, Rita Hayworth lookalike he fell in love with, my mom was named Rita after her dad’s favorite pinup.
My mom had already married, obtained an education degree and given birth to two boys by the time I was born in 1977. Mom was a member of the Women’s Lib movement, so when she finally gave birth to a girl, it was a pretty big deal.
She hasn’t told me for sure, but I like to think my debut into her circle of feminist friends was about the same as when Simba was introduced in The Lion King. She held me up into the sunrise, Elton John sang “The Circle of Life,” and everyone just stared speechless, their mouths agape in awe.
My mother was determined to raise me as a smart woman. She strolled me as an infant in an ERA parade, tuned the TV into Dan Rather and the McNeil-Lehrer News Hour every evening, and maintained a World Book Encyclopedia collection.
My mother was an elementary school teacher until I was five years old. When I
was seven, she commuted to Dallas to attend seminary at Southern Methodist University. I spent a week with her and I was, of course, loved by her classmates. She met some of her closest friends at SMU and after receiving her Master of Divinity, she was ordained as one of the few female ministers in Arkansas at the time.
Mom and I had some struggles. It was hard for me to be without my mom during the week, and hard after my parents split up and we moved around every couple of years. My mother also developed some health problems, including diabetes, when I was in college. But we grew together and became a team, an undeniable force.
For more than six years, my mom and I lived several miles apart as I became a reporter in Louisiana and northwest Arkansas and she went on disability leave as her health problems increased. Circumstances eventually brought her to my neck of the woods. She was headed up to her new condo on January 31, 2009, just as I was being laid off from my final newspaper job.
I’ve lived with my mother since February 2010. In 2012, my mother was diagnosed with renal disease, and has been on dialysis since.
Living with Mom has has allowed me to be her primary caregiver, to work two fulfilling jobs, and also to be a mom to The Best Dog In The World.
We hang out, watch MSNBC or shows on History about aliens or pawning/picking, and we have miraculously stayed a team after all these years. Still not sure how we do it. But we do.
In 2012, mom and I joined together to attend our local Unite
Against The War on Women rally. Although my mom is older and her health sometimes prohibits her from being able to be as socially and politically active as she was, she still has that fire, that passion and that drive that (I hope) she passed along to me.
She is now a powerful voice from her desk, where she shares her knowledge, experience and humor with friends old and new.
Love you, Mom!