Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Mother's Heart

In the antique room at my mother’s house there are several old family portraits. I love looking at them and trying to imagine what some of these long-gone family members might have been like. My favorite is the portrait of my grandmother’s parents holding Grandma between them when she was just old enough to stand. It was probably taken around 1898.

My Great Grandmother, Katherine, was a beautiful woman. In the picture she’s not grinning or anything outrageous like that, but she has a pleasant, friendly face that seems to welcome you in to whatever she’s doing. I wish I’d been able to knock on her back door and spend time with her over küchen and coffee in her kitchen.
Katherine had plenty of sorrow in her life. Her daughter – her first I think – died in infancy, and my grandmother, Clara, was so scrawny and sickly when she was born that the doctor told Katherine and John (Great Grandpa) to hurry up and get her baptized, because “this one isn’t going to make it.” Actually, Grandma outlived the whole family: parents and all four sisters and four brothers.
Grandma had her share of troubles, too: her own ill health, losing a son to polio, caring for a dying mother in law… But even with her own sadness and challenges, Grandma never stopped being a mother to her five other children, even as they grew older.
And of course, there’s my own mother, Dorothy, hundreds of miles away from me, but still taking care of family members who should be taking care of her. And even though I scold her about it, I understand where her heart is. I’m a mother, too, proud of my sons at times, my heart bleeding for them at others.

What does any of this have to do with Writing Eddie’s Wake? I think Karl’s mother, Maggie, is a mixture of these women and many others I have known and loved. You have only met Maggie for a tiny moment in the first post below, but I think you’ll like her. She’s not perfect, with her hot temper, but then who is? Through all her own heartache, fear and adversity, she is absolutely, completely and undeniably committed to Karl and his sisters, Lizzie and Anna. Moments when any of them are in danger are nearly as devastating to her as… Well, I shouldn’t say too much more here; I sure wouldn’t want to spoil the story for you! Till next time…

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