Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Mother's Tribute

I can only have great admiration for the role mothers play and the contributions they make to family and society. There are special burdens and special rewards for mothers. Bearing children alone requires the commitment of body in ways that men never experience. Upon birth, there is a continued special connectivity often through breast feeding. And society places special emphasis on the nurturing task as being fundamentally the mother's responsibility. Wow!!

Within my own family I have had a multitude of role models for mothers. I pay special tribute to my own mother who persevered in spite of handicaps she encountered. My mother was the daughter of Dutch immigrants grounded in the Catholic faith. Along with her sisters and brothers - there were five total children - three girls and two boys - she grew up on a farm and managed to complete education through 8th grade. She was naturally left handed but the nuns in school at that time did not allow one to be left handed since it was thought to be of the devil. Thus she learned to write right handed after having her knuckles rapped any time she took up a pencil in the left hand. In her childhood her father decided to pioneer farming in South Dakota. She along with her siblings moved to South Dakota with all the family wealth and possessions to start a new life on the frontier. Regrettably grandfather Carl Tange and grandmother Emma Tange lost all they had in the dust bowl conditions of that era. They ended up returning to New York State to start all over again in Ontario County. Unfortunately Carl and Emma never fully achieved comfort upon their return and passed away prematurely.

My mother married a Mr. Goebert as a teenager and bore a son soon after in October of 1929 and named him Kenneth Eugene Goebert. Only a few years into the marriage her husband died from peritonitis from a ruptured appendix. As a young widow she was forced to seek employment to support herself and her son. Family helped out with child care but she needed to work 10 hour days, six days a week with women packing products for sale. Wages of 10 to 15 cents per hour.

In the early 1930's she met and married my father Charles James Rehkugler. My father was in his late twenties. I was born in 1935 underneath the stairs of an old farmhouse on the corner of Wayne Center and Preemption Roads, Town of Rose, Wayne County, New York. In my early years I have wonderful memories of how well my mother cared for me. At about two and a half years of age I contracted measles which morphed into pneumonia. For several days I was at death's door. My mother kept vigil at my crib side all that time. And I distinctly remember waking from my stupor to see my mother in her chair next to my crib.

As time went by my mother began to suffer from depression perhaps brought on from conflict with my paternal grandmother over my upbringing. In the unenlightened era regarding mental health she was institutionalized for a over a year at Willard Mental Hospital. We were all delighted that she recovered to return to our family with restored health and enthusiasm for life.
In the ensuing years my mother became of bulwark of energy and support for the farm enterprise and the care Kenneth and myself. She work hard both in the fields and in the care of our home. I was always proud to bring my friends into our neat and orderly home.

My mother always supported my adventures whatever they might be and enjoyed the grandchildren as the arrived. Unfortunately in 1969 my mother experienced the tragedy of the death of her son and my half brother Kenneth Goebert at age 39 from acute leukemia. I would expect one of the greatest agonies of a parent is to have a the death of a child. Mother weathered this tragedy but with the death of my father in 1972 she began to spiral into depression once again. With medication and other treatment she was able to at least partially recover and enjoy her later years in community with her senior friends in her new bungalow in Lyons, New York.

My final tribute is to appreciate how much my mother loved me in spite of all the burdens that life threw at her. And I think she really relished my love for her. When I closed the estate after her death 1978 I found her treasure of all the hand made cards and plagues I made for her as a child.

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