How do I miss my mother? Let me count the ways. She was the glue that kept our family together. She managed six children on my dad’s shoe string salary. In her spare time, she sold homemade noodles (she would roll them out and hang them on our clothes line to dry), bake angel food cakes from scratch, prepare pumpkin bread in Folger’s coffee cans, and make Danish cookies using a hand-held cookie gun.
We only knew her as Mom and found it hard to believe she had a life before we came along. In 1915 Clementine Schattel was born in East Bernard, along with her ten siblings. She and her sisters (all but one) were nurses in Wharton, the other became a nun and lived out her life at the convent in Victoria. Mom later married our dad, Joseph Barton, and as they say, the rest is history.
Imagine being given three wishes to assist us in better understanding our mothers. My first wish would be to have known her when she was a child. I can’t begin to imagine having ten siblings. In addition, mom suffered hearing loss at a very early age and spent the rest of her life dependent on hearing aids. I wonder how it affected her in her day to day life growing up?
My second wish would be to have known her in her teenage years during nursing training. She and her sisters shared stories with us about delivering babies, assisting in surgeries with gunshot wounds and amputations. (Her teenage years made our teenage years look like a walk in the park). On a lighter note, she would tell us stories about roller skating with friends on the sidewalks in downtown Wharton and stopping off to have a fudgesicle, her favorite snack. Wow, life existed before social media?
My third wish would be to have known her when she was a young wife and mother during World War II. Mom told stories of she and dad offering room and board to soldiers just to help pay bills. Despite the hardships, they always managed to survive and were grateful for all the blessings they experienced in life.
By the time my sisters and I came along in the 1950’s, my mother had found her calling in motherhood. She was a wonderful mother and an amazing grandmother. She lived through the death of her husband and her two oldest sons. Mother spent the last decade of her life living with my family. Her presence in our home brought stability to my children and me when my husband was traveling overseas. She treasured her grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. Family was everything to her. In the end, my mother passed away at our home in Houston surrounded by all of us on May 16, 2010.
A day doesn’t go by without me thinking about my mother. If you’re blessed to have your mother still with you, find out about the little details of her life before you came into existence. They are treasures you can share with your children and keep forever in your heart.
Originally published in the Bay City Tribune on Sunday, May 14, 2017