Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Meet My Mother Petronella Marion

     I am participating in BlogHer's NaBloPoMo for February2012.  This means I am going to be blogging every day in the month of February.  The theme for this month is relative.
Today's prompt is "Tell us about your mother."
Petronella Marion was born on March 23, 1923.  She and her five brothers and four sisters were raised by their mother, Rachel and father Emil.
     Petronella was known as Priscilla to us all.  Old photos of her showed a young woman with long red hair and a stylish way of dressing.  She would tell us that she loved to dance, especially the jitterbug.
     When she was 17 years old she met my father, Romeo.  This was during WWII.  Romeo was drafted.  He was stationed in India.  Priscilla waited for him.
     They were married on October 26, 1946.
     The stylish, carefree girl became Romeo's wife and eventually mother of six.
     She was a typical 1950's stay at home housewife and mother.  Since my father's job was seasonal, there were many months when the only money coming in came from a small unemployment check.  She managed, though, to have dinner on the table promptly at 5:30 every night, even if it was a meager meal of shepherds pie.
     It seemed as though she was constantly carrying laundry up and down from the basement.  As long as it wasn't raining and the temperature was above freezing, she would hang the laundry out on the clothes line to dry, including bright white cloth diapers.
     She and my father had a rocky marriage, to say the least.  She stayed with him, though, until death parted them.
     She had a hard time after my father died.  He left her with a pile of debt, including a house which was in foreclosure.  She shuffled between each of our houses.
     When an opportunity came up for an affordable apartment in a senior complex, my mother finally found a place that she could call her own.  For the first time in her life, she lived alone and more important independently on her own.
     She became quite active in her community.  She was in charge of the crochet and knitting club. She along with the other members of the club made many hand crafted lap robes for nursing home residents and
 knitted harts for seriously ill children.  She and her group were featured in a newspaper article which sited the club's charitable contributions.  She was interviewed by Ernie Onastis, a local newscaster.
She went to Bingo on Tuesdays, Bible studies on Wednesday's, and her book club on Fridays.
   When I think of my mother, I always see children around her.  She was Grandma to 13 grandchildren and 6 step-grandchildren.  She was Nanna to 7 great grandchildren.
    When my first child was born, my mother taught me all about babies.  What each sound meant.  She taught me how to feed her, change her diaper and rock her to sleep.  She was there for her first bath.
     Our relationship was complex, as some mother daughter relationships can be.  I am not sure I always got the emotional support I needed from her.  There were many times that she depended on me to help her through her latest crisis and I felt as though our roles became reversed.
     On the other hand,  I would call to tell her what was going on in my life.  I would ask advice about everything from how to "make the Sunday Gravy" to what to do for a cold or fever.  And I always knew she loved me.
    When her diagnosis of incurable cancer was confirmed, her life changed once again.  It was  heartbreaking when she finally realized and accepted the fact that she could no longer care for herself and that she had to move in with my sister and finally with me.  The independence that she waited for and gained after almost a whole lifetime was taken away from her.   
    My mom passed away on November 26, 2009.  Two months later my son was diagnosed with incurable stage IV colon cancer.   When I found out about Joey's cancer, one of my first reactions was to pick up the phone to call Ma, only she wasn't there.
     One of the regrets I have is not being there as often as I should have.  When I would make my usual Sunday morning call,  she would say that she didn't mind spending time alone.  It wasn't until she came to live with me, the last few months of her life, that she admitted she was actually very lonely, especially on those Sundays.
     I didn't understand until it was too late that the times I thought about visiting my mother on those lonely Sundays I actually should have...visited.   I also didn't understand until now that it wasn't that our roles were reversed but that she and I were actually each others support system.
     Above all and after all I miss her, especially now.

Today's entry from Anna's Diary:
Friday February 1 1929
Down Town with Elsie.  Went to vault for stock.  Brought it to Post & Flag.  Selected a new radio at Davega's.  Stromberg Carlson.  Tea at Kresges. Supper at mrs. Nap with Baby.

[ Davega's was a store which sold a variety of items including radios.]

[Perhaps Anna's new radio looked something like this:]

Photo from Radio


  1. It's hard to summarize a person's life, and your relationship with that person, in one piece of writing.  I think you did an admirable job.  I know you are still struggling with your dual loss, and I hope writing about both Priscilla and Joey, helps you through the process.  

  2. A beautiful piece of writing as usual. Your mother sounds like a very strong woman.

  3. I enjoyed reading about your mom and look forward to more pieces grouped somehow around relatives.  It does sound like a complicated relationship with your mom and not too dissimilar to what I currently have going on with my mother.  I fight the "I should go to see her more often" and that is difficult -  

  4. Thank you for your helpful comments on my blog - 
    I enjoyed reading about your mom.  I love how differently we approached the writing.  I wasn't super excited to read other peoples writing - now I am sooo curious.  It also makes me think of different things about my mother.  I think I get stuck in my own thinking and can't see beyond it.  I like your honest and open writing, it feels real - and real feels good. 

  5. Thank you.  I have set a goal for myself to read as many of the blogs this month as I can and be supportive of the wonderful bloggers in our community.  I find that it helps to stimulate writing ideas.

  6. Yes, even though my mom could drive me crazy sometimes, I still feel that no one can love you like your mom does.  There just isn't any comparable relationship.  It is quite special.  

  7. I could have gone on and on about Priscilla.  You are right it is nearly impossible to tell a story of an 86+ year life in a few paragraphs.  I am not even sure I was able to capture her essence.  But I may have learned something about what was meaningful to me about my relationship with my mom.