Five years ago my mother passed away. Born on 8.07.1919 she died on 07.08.2009, just 30 days short of her 90th birthday.
A resume of my mother's life would show many hardships as well as many joys: times of little, times of much.
Born in a one-room log cabin in Wisconsin, her birth wasn't even registered until 3 months later and the clerk (or her father?) made a mistake and her birth certificate reads "male".
When just under 12 (for the cheaper train fares) her aunt from the state of Washington, came, saw that her sister (my mother's mother) was struggling to take care of their mother and the three girls at home (the oldest was already in teacher training at 17); off she went with the middle two 3'000 miles - my mother never saw her mother again.
Raised thereafter with the cousins, a right merry band: Uncle Andrew had first married one sister, who died in the Spanish Flu epidemic, then married the other, so taking in the children of the third eventually meant 9 in the family, some of whom were not only cousins, but also half-siblings. And we think that families today are complex!
An education was always an important thing, perceived as a way of becoming independent. Emma Johnson lost a couple of years following her aunt (a school teacher and the main bread winner of the family: Uncle An drew was a house husband before we knew the term) around to take care of the youngest daughter. A bright young woman though she got her pre-dietetics degree in 1941, followed by a BS in 1943.
Then, inevitably, she "met a man", got married in 1945 and they started a family - me - in 1948. Followed the births of my siblings: Karyn, Pat and Bob (yes a Jr. those were the days of carrying on the family name).
When my brother was 6 and off to school my mother returned to school for her Master's Degree in Dietetics, one which she received the same Sunday that I graduated from High School!
Her four children were always led to believe that an education was the only way to go and, very fortunately for us, due to scholarships, working and my father's discount, all of us finished our university degrees.
Then the marriages started, the grandchildren came, life was - with the exception of her boss - a much better thing. My parents began to travel, something that as parents of a young family had meant only camping, now became Europe, cruises and even China for my mother.
Retirement brought more peace and travels to visit the grand children, which we, accommodating everyone, spaced well apart: the first in 1977 and the last, twins, in 1992.
They say that no one is completely gone until the memory of them no longer exists, and my mother's memory is alive and well in the minds of her remaining children and grandchildren, in some of their gestures and thoughts, in their genes.
In pictures below a few of the highlights of her life: I’d love to be able to share them with her in person!
|MS in 1943|
|Married in 1945 to Robert Bruce Aitken|
|Julia I. Aitken, 1st born|
|Karyn M. Aitken, 2nd daughter|
|Patricia J. Aitken, 3rd daughter|
|Robert B. Aitken, Jr. - that long-awaited boy!|
|1995 - 50th wedding anniversary|
|2007 shortly before she fell: all her grandsons|
|In loving Memory|