On Mothers' Day, All About My Mother, by Larry Eder

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This is one of my favorite pictures. The baby in my Grandmother's arms is me. My grandmother's name is Violet, and that is my mom, Marilu, next to her. I was about six months old and the year is 1959. I am the oldest of five children, two boys and three girls.

I have a slight remembrance of Mom taking me, my twin sisters, Beth & Lou and little sister, Kathy on a city bus to visit Grandma. I would have been four, at the time. Mom made it an adventure, which is what she would do with most of the stuff that should have stopped her cold in her tracks. By the time my Mom was twenty-four, she has had five children.

One of the other memories is of preparing for the Christmas picture. Mom got us all baths, and we were all in our Sunday's finest. Dad had this camera set up, with five seconds before it flashed. Mom was trying to get the five of us to stop moving. This was impossible. I was laughing, Kathy was looking at Dad, the twins were giggling and Brian was the only one looking at the camera. It must have taken twenty attempts. There is a picture I found recently, that Dad had taken of all of us staring at the camera, in different directions and Mom just laughing at the ultimate fact that control of five children is such an illusion. That my parents did not a) sell us into serfdom or b) put us up for adoption amazes me still. While my sisters were fairly mellow, my brother and I somehow stayed out of juvenile detention. I have nothing but admiration for both of my parents, but my Mom, could always get a laugh out of me.

It is a fact that after raising the five of us, Mom finished her Masters in Marriage & Family counseling and spent over twenty years at Elmwood, a Women's Prison, as head of Detention MInistry. I do hold it as a point of pride that my mother attributed raising my brother and I to preparing her for what she saw in her two plus decades in prison work.

Over the years, as I would ask Mom and Dad, for suggestions in rearing my son, Adam, Mom would remind me of something I had done or my brother had done. I then began to understand the miracle that she and my Dad, and other parents perform, day in, day out, raising their children, loving their children and finding some humor in the situation.

Recently, my nephew, Tommy and my niece, Sarah began spring sports. They are the twins of my oldest twin sister Beth. Mom and Dad drove up to see Sarah play softball and watch Tommy run in a track meet.

It was in hearing about them competing and hearing about my folks driving up that reminded me of how long this sport stuff has been going on in my family-four generations now for track & field. My mom drove my brothers and sisters to my cross country and track meets, we went to my brothers cross country and track meets, we also watched my sister Beth play tennis. Even in college, my parents would find a way to see some of my meets.

One meet, in my junior year in cross country, my Grandma had come out to visit us, in 1975. Grandma and Mom came to the meet. It was my best meet of the year. I did not learn for twenty more years that Grandma ran track in the 1920s (her number shown below). And it was even years after that before I found out that my Mom had competed in the sprints at the same gymnasium, and was taught by the same teacher as was my Grandmother ( my father had the same teacher).

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Violet's race number, 1926. She competed in ten events, several running, including hurdles, the 100 yards and a relay. She ran it with several of her friends.

My Mom and Dad were both big on me participating in sports. They did not care if I was good ( I wasn't), but they wanted me to finish what I started. Somehow, during my freshman year in cross country, under Father Ralph Passerelli, I fell in love with the sport. I did not win a race until my senior year in college, and both of my parents were there. I figured it was karma, that after seeing several hundred races, they did deserve to see me win one.


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Olga and Violet, 1929. Olga was my grandmother's sister. I just like the picture.

Mom was the oldest of three children. She has a brother, Bill, who I call Bubba, and a sister Patti. Mom and Grandma Vi were very close. Grandpa was a police officer for thirty-five years. Grandma encouraged my Mom and Mom encouraged us.

I remember Grandma climbing up a blackberry bush to get my brother Brian out of the bush. She watched the five of us for an entire week, when were all between five and ten. We had a blast. She was a great cook, but I am still amazed that she survived a week with us. We were always into something. She loved us and we loved her.

It was in my forty-fourth year that I got to spend a week with my grandmother at her home in St. Louis. I was in town for the USATF convention. I did my meetings in the day, and hung out with Grandma in the evenngs. I would get up with her to take the bus to her job (she worked until she was ninety-one, she did collections). I feel honored to have known my Grandma as a little kid, a teenager and an adult. It was Grandma Vi (what Adam and Tess, my oldest niece), who told me to encourage Adam to be honest about his feelings. She went through family pictures and told me about the colorful and good people in my mother's side of the family.

I have learnt a lot from my parents and grandparents. That I hold my Mother and Grandma is such a place of honor is because they have earned it. Example is the best way for a kid or a young adult to learn. I have watched my Mom study Calculus while waiting for us after school. I know what it is to feel part of a family, something bigger and outside of you, that is important and live giving. And I have learnt, most of all, how to give whatever you do your best, and take the consequences, warts and all.

It is in that color that I feel that one truly lives life. I saw it in the eyes of my Grandma, when she told how she first tried to kick start her Arrow motorcycle, and flew over the handlebars, only to be caught by Grandpa Earl. I saw it in my Mom's eyes when I told her I was leaving the seminary, and I have seen it in my son's eyes when he I saw him smile as his band was playing.

One final story. When we lived in California, and I was coaching at Foothill college in the early nineties, my parents would literally have a party at their house every couple of weeks. All of us lived in town and it was a very special time. One day, Adam asked to call Pepe and Meme, what he calls my parents. He was seven. He asked if we were having a party today, because he wanted to see everyone. Mom and Dad were just getting up from a nap. Dad looked at Mom, called us all and said, " Adam said we needed a party, so I am roasting a salmon, get over here." And we did. It was in those times, those moments with my brother in laws, the kids running around the yard, that I could feel like we could do anything. It was and is the love that keeps you going.

On Mother's Day, it is as fitting a time to thank my Mother, and her Mother, for reminding me what is really important, but most of all, giving me the example. Her love for my father, after fifty-two years, and that they can still laugh, and love, gives me something to look forward to, and a living example.

Make sure you thank you Mom on this day, wherever she is..

To reach RBR, email [email protected]

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