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Story ID:10494
Written by:Frederick William Wickert (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family History
Location:Gilboa New York USA
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By Fred Wickert

Today is Mothers Day and it occurred to me that I have never written about my mother. I have written about my father and I wrote the love story about how Mom and Dad met each other and eventually married. I never did write about Mom herself. I think it is high time that I did.

My earliest recollections of Mom are in Hamilton, New York where my family lived at the time. I remember laying on the floor at the end of the hallway, looking across the living room at Mom's back while she swayed from side to side moving her hands over he keys on the big grand piano and causing it to make such wonderful sounds. There was a man standing beside her with a golden horn that had a slide moving back and forth as it made some pretty pleasing sounds too.

I made up my mind then that I wanted one of those golden horns too, and the day came in my life when I did have one. The day also came when I played it on stage with my Mom playing the piano to accompany me. She played it to accompany me a lot more to sing but that is another story. This story is about Mom, not about me.

As I grew up there was a steady stream of people who came to our home, either to practice with her or to learn from her. Mom was a magnificent concert pianist and pipe organist. She wasn't bad as a harpist either, having played first chair harp in the Syracuse Symphony orchestra at age nine. She graduated from Syracuse University College of Fine Arts with a double major. One in piano and the other in pipe organ.

In the 1920's before the depression Mom was officially the organist for the Cathedral in Buffalo, New York. They had the largest pipe organ in the State at the time. She played for choir practice one night a week and she played for church services on Sunday, making $20 a week. That was big money in those days and weddings and funerals were extra. She almost always returned the money she was paid for those.

Wherever my family moved to, Mom was soon a prominent member of the community and in big demand to play for all sorts of functions. She played for church functions, for Grange and PTA meetings and there was always a number of both children and adults coming to the house for lessons.

Somehow, Mom found time to have and raise four children. First were two girls and then there was me and last was another girl. When Mom was married I am told she was very pretty and that people often compared her to the Mona Lisa painting. She weighed ninety eight pounds when she was married.

With each child she had, she gained a lot of weight but could not seem to lose it and she got bigger and bigger. In those days a lot of the younger girls wore an item of clothing called a girdle. The older and heavier ladies wore something a little more restrictive and they called it a corset. About the time of the Vietnam War those garments became a thing of the past and a new invention called Panty Hose came in to being. Mom lost the corset, but she never took up the panty hose. Her hose stopped just below the knees and she never wore a mini skirt.

Mom also sometimes substituted for the music teacher at the school but she didn't like to. She was always highly respected by the ladies of the community. In addition to the Grange and Pomona and PTA she was also a member of The Eastern Star and within that she was in another thing called White Shrine. It was an exclusive group at the top of the Order of Eastern Star. She was a past Matron of Eastern Star, and as always with everything, she played the piano for all of their functions. As a member of the Community Club she was always helping out in the kitchen when they put on fund raising dinners for the church.

As a teenager growing up I remember that it was always Mom everybody asked when they couldn't find something. It was Mom who was asked when we wanted something special made that required sewing. For some reason, when I wanted to get the car keys for a date it was always Mom I asked. In our family there was no such thing as an allowance. If we wanted money for something we were expected to earn it.

Some times it was not so easy to earn money. Then if I had a date, I not only asked Mom for the car keys, I also asked Mom for some money to pay for the date. I don't recall why I didn't ask Dad. Probably because Mom was easier. I never knew where the money came from but I suspect it was money she made from piano lessons.

I went out at night on dates and two sisters living at home went out on dates. Whenever we came home from a date or from a school function or church youth function, no matter how late it was, Mom was always sitting up waiting for us to get home. She refused to go to bed unless everybody was safely at home. I sometimes came home from a date at three or four in the morning and she still was up waiting for me to get in. I used to say to her, "Mom, why don't you go to bed?" She always replied, "Because I don't want to."

When she saw we were gone to bed then she turned in herself, but she was always up in time to make breakfast, no matter what. Dad never slept much. He went to bed at midnight, then read a book before going to sleep. At four thirty or five he was wide awake and down stairs doing something. Mom always got up in time to fix breakfast for him and make his lunch or do whatever was needed for any special clothing he needed that day.

Mom always loved all of her family. She took an active interest in each of us and what we had going on. She did all sorts of extra things for us and it was not easy with all the extra outside things she did in the community too. It was an even greater burden because Mom always had all that extra weight to carry around and she was also a diabetic and had to contend with that. Her mother came to live with us as well. Grandma lived with us when I was in high school and stayed with Mom after Dad died up to after her 100th birthday, Grandma had to go to a nursing home the last three months of her life because she had lost bladder control and began to get dementia. She passed away after three months in the nursing home, just ten days before her 101st birth day.

When I retired from the Air Force Tae and I bought the house beside a house she had bought years before believing I was going to get out of the Air Force and come home. We were going to need a place to live. Her friend had a house. Her husband had died and they had a winter home in Florida. Her friend decided to sell the house and move to Florida year around so Mom bought it, thinking it was a good place for Tae and I to live. I stayed in the Air Force and she kept it rented out. After I retired from the Air Force she moved in to that house next door to me.

After a few years she went blind from diabetes. My sister lived an hour away and was an RN. We decided it was best if Mom move in with her and she took care of her until she died from sugar out of control.

She has always been missed. After all these years I run in to one of the ladies she knew in her community life or a former pupil and they will tell me how much they miss my Mom. I miss her too. Happy Mothers Day Mom!

First photo - Mom and Dad wedding picture
Second photo - Mom, me and Grandma in 1965
Third photo - Mom holding first born
Fourth photo - Mom and Dad with first two girls
Fifth photo - me with trombone in high school.

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