Sunday, May 10, 2009

She's my mom!!!!

I am so late with this post. My connection to the internet was out until this morning. Not a good day. You know about Miriam Steven Diamond the newest woman to join the clan. I'd like to let you know my mom Mary Knisely Oechsler Henry. Mom or Mimi as we call her was born in the late twenties. Her dad was a banker and her mom was a legal scretary in a law firm and then secretary of her national music sorority Mu Phi Epsilon. Mimi has an older sister Dorothy Anne or Dorr. Dorr taught nursing for many years before her retirement. My grandma and Aunt Dorr focused on work, cultural activities and gardening. Granpa was a golfer and if he wasn't at work he was probably golfing and enjoying socializing with his friends. Mom was also social and an appreciator of current culture. She had a boatload of friends in high school and was very active on clubs and committees. She was and remains a social person loving dances and parties and a general good time. Grandpa had a favorite story of Mimi and her friend Suzette Halbert. One day they went to the movies and didn't come home. Grandpa went down to the movies and found the girls sitting through yet another movie. I think this captures my Mom's early focus on friends and the joy of being with them. My Mom had a short career working in a soda fountain. A perfect job that could afford her the opportunity to see everyone.

After graduation Mom went to OSU where she joined Aunt Dorr. Aunt Dorr had an invitation to a blind date but couldn't make it so she fixed up Mimi with - you guessed it! - Bobo. Thanks Aunt Dorr for being busy! Mom and Dad married when she was 20 and he was 23 and 14 months later I was born. Mom and Dad wanted to have children while they were young. That started the whirl of a medical practice, having 2 more children, a pediatric residency, a stint in the army and ultimately a move to Toledo.

Mom is a wonderful wife and a fabulous mother, Mimi and Great Mimi. She is a woman who kept a sparkling home despite her children's best efforts. I grew up listening to big band music and my mom's voice singing along. One memorable time involved watching mom singing and dancing with the dog. She tripped, fractured her foot and wore a lovely cast for weeks. It is amazing to watch the looks on people's faces when they heard the source of the injury! In addition to dancing and singing skills my Mom was a seamstress. Her creations included Halloween costumes, party dresses and dance recital finery.

She spent years in the PTA and supporting a huge variety of school efforts. She helped with school projects and field trips and was active in church. My younger sister Sue was in confirmation class and I will discreetly offer that her academic prowess in that class didn't match her efforts at school. It was a source of some chagrin to my parents who really liked the minister and valued his regard. So Mom became a confirmation class mother diligently seeing that Sue showed her acadmic gifts. It was really important to my parents that we do well in school and Mom worked hard to do what she could to support our academic careers. My youngest sister had some grades that were disappointing. Dad and Mom decided to counsel Rebecca about her grades. Rebcca listened to their advice and consternation and then said vehmently , "But Dad, I'm the funniest kid in the class!" Mom doubled her level of academic support. Today my sisters are a college professor and teacher so Mom's efforts didn't go to waste. I will spare you more stories of my sisters' misadventures. Just know that many of our friends would stop in to see us and stay to hang out with Mimi.

I challenged Mom and Dad in a different way. Most of my reblliousness caused more chagrin for Mom and Dad and my teen years with her were not always rewarding for her. In one episode I went shopping and purchased a lovely corset with long elastric tabs to attach stockings. I returned home and mom wanted to see my purchase. Needless to say a quick return was made. On another occasion a dance was scheduled at my high school. There was no one from my school I wanted to go with so I invited a young man from the Junior Council on World Affairs. Mom was horrified that I would do this - you just didn't do that in the 60's. The JCWA was definitely not hooking up on facebook because it was a meeting ground for geeks. She needn't have worried. I think the Sadie Hawkins Dance was enough of a challenge for her. My freshman year in college my parents dropped me off and to my mind beat a hasty retreat. After going home for Thanksgiving, Mom and Dad drove me back to school. Mom helped me drop off my things in my room. When I opened the door and she saw my room in disarray - clothes piled on the bed and desk stacked with stuff it was a bit of a shock. My Dad told me she cried all the way home. I don't recount these stories as a matter of pride but more to inform you dear reader of the challenges my mom faced as a mother. As she could tell you this is the tip of the iceberg.

When I married and became a mom myself my mom became much smarter. She supported me as a person and a mother and loved my children with her wonderful Mimi brand of love. She would help us get settled after moves, help new moms get adjusted and even coming for a short visit would gently say, "Would you humor me and let me run the vacuum?" Mimi washed the lightbulbs! She and Dad had the grandchildren visit for a week at a time and outdid themselves helping guide their family and keep us all going no matter. My Mom would tell me she couldn't bring herself to wash fingerprints off the windows after we left bcause she wanted reminders of those little people she loves so dearly.

Jen would be sad if I didn't mention Mimi's laundry. Among my mom's many achievements in many areas is her laundry. Jen is a particular admirer and continually asks for Mimi's laundry tips bcause her goal is to make her laundry smell like Mimi's. Mimi continually recounts that it is the Tide and the Downy but we know better. It is that little touch of Mimi that makes everything special. It is the way she puts herself in her family that we treasure.

Almost 20 years ago my Dad gave me, Mimi and my two sisters a trip to the Caymans. It was during that time when my sisters laughed when during a conversation my mom turned to me and said OH Annnne that caused us to laugh and remember. For me it was fun to be able to laugh about those times that caused that reaction. I must confess some chagrin that I hadn't always brought her joy and pride; that I couldn't see how hard she was working to be the best mom in the way that she thought was best for me and yes that I saw she loved me but I was resentful that she didn't like me as the free spirit I found myself to be. If I could go back I wouldn't change a thing about my mom. I would however be more patient, more willing to really share with her my deep love and affection for her even in the face of frustration. I would want to make her know in her bones what a wonderful unique person she is and how much I treasure that in her.

So Mom I want you to know that I understand from my own life as a mom and a Granna that the people who are best for you are not the people who are just like you or agree with you. You learn from the people who by their lives cause you to ponder your own life and the person you want to be so you can carry in you the parts of them that you love and want to grow in yourself. Mom you are so much one of those people for me. So you are up there with the people I admire Thomas Merton, Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Sullivan, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Malcom Boyd, Tina Turner, and other authors, writers and heroic people. I hope going forward you will have many opportunities to know what you are to me and my gratitude to you for being who you are. I love you!