The picture above is from New Years Eve, 1957. My parents had been married in November 1957. Nine months, ten days later, I was born, so the tiny baby bump tells the observer that I was already stating my presence.
My parents met 62 years ago and have been married nearly 58 years. My mother is in hospice now, and I wanted to share a few memories of this magnifcent women, whom I call Mom.
My first conscious memory with Mom was probably about age of four. Mom was taking us, on the bus, to see Grandma Vi for lunch. Mom was pregnant with Brian, holding Kathy in her arms, and the twins (MaryLou and MaryBeth) were holding onto Mom's dress and I was standing close. This was a pretty normal thing for us, about once a week and the bus was right down the block on Arsenal. We lived on Lemp in Saint Louis, Missouri. It was 1962. I remember the feeling of love and security. Mom always made me feel like that.
It is 1972, and I am a freshman at DeSmet. Anheiser Busch, owners of Saint Louis Cardinals, would provide high schoolers who got straight As a pair of baseball tickets for their efforts. You could win up to 4 sets of baseball tickets a year. Mom and I would go to the games ( I would get 2 sets of game tickets), relax, watch some baseball, and relax. On the way home, we would get Donuts for breakfast next day. Long drive (about 40 minutes from Bridgeton) from our home, and I remember, each game was double header, and one of games would go late into evening, due to ties.
It is summer of 1975, and we have moved to San Jose, CA. We have survived first year of the transition and it was tough. After finishing dinner, I had chased my dear brother, Brian around table, Mom was in kitchen, non plussed. I have blood in my eyes and take a swipe at my brother. I miss, and knock and entire pot of Stuffed Green peppers, with tomato sauce, from table to becoming a large stain on wall in dining room. Did I tell you that Dad had just painted it, the day before on his afternoon before heading back to night shift at Ford? My brother let out a scream, noting we were going to die. Mom came in, calmed us down, cleared off wall with towel (ice cubes inside) and we waited. Father was told two weeks later, as Mom knew that if some time had passed, her sons might make their next birthday. This story has become iconic in our family.
Having three sisters and a brother, and the importance of family is one of those life lessons Mom taught. We saw our grandparents every time we could. We drove across the country for weddings (we took a four day train tour to go to my uncle's wedding). Every excuse for a party or a gathering, and the Eder house was open. This celebration idea was passed on to the next generation, and is one of my greatest feelings of pride about my family.
It is the summer of 1992, and my son, Adam is six. We are back living in California, after a few years away, and Adam calls Mom, who he calls Meme. I did not know about the call. Adam wanted to see everyone and noted, "Meme, can we have a party today?". I find out and call my parents. By then, they had called my brothers and sisters, started to thaw out a half a salmon and the BBQ was on. Adam had to provide the entertainment: he sang Little Dead Surfing Girl, one of my mother's favorites.
It is about 2010, and I am in San Jose, for a visit. We all go to Original Joes, a favorite dive in downtown San Jose, across from my brother and his partner's art gallery, Gallery AD. As we are having dinner, someone comes by and reminds Mom that they met while Mom was working at Elmwood Prison (which she did for 25 years). Mom was so happy that he came by. This would happen often, as Mom had, after raising us, finished college, taken her masters and went on to work in Prison Ministry at Elmwood. After her retirement from Elmwood, she would work in a home for battered women and children.
It is May 2013, and I have walked myself to local hospital in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin. I am very sick, and doctors not sure what I have, but figure, after a day, it is diabetes. Mom and Dad fly out, and stay two weeks, and help me get on my feet and make a life changing decision. I will leave my job and move back to San Jose in late 2013. In a year, I am off insulin and three years later, controlling my diabetes. Mom encouraged me to do it with diet and exercise.
It is August 2013, and I am in Moscow. Mom sends me an email, and reminds me of how, in 1972, I tried to get approval to go to a collective farm, in the then Soviet Union, for a summer trip. Mom decided that she could not let me go yet. Forty-one years later, she reminded me that I had finally got to Moscow. My son, Adam, who also joined me on the journey, found the story about Meme and me very interesting.
Over the last eighteen months, I have watched my father care for my mother with love and devotion. Mom and Dad had spoken about this time, and Mom wanted to be home. Dad made sure that could happen. Sixty-two years after meeting and 58 years after having been married, they continue to amaze me each and every day.
Each of my sisters and brother have stories about our Mother. Mom had a profound believe that life was a gift and that one must use the gifts given to their fullest. Each of us has tried to do that. My mother did that, and as I observe her in the end of her life, I feel very fortunate, and loved.