Saturday, October 11, 2008

A story about my mother . . .

My mother was a social worker. She started working in the local department of public aid - commonly called the "relief office" - when my grandfather became ill. She did well enough there that she was hired by the State of Illinois to work out of the county office.

When I was about twelve years old, my mother brought a young lady home with her. For privacy, I'll call her Mary.

Mary did all of our cleaning, laundry and most of the cooking. I asked mom why Mary was living with us, and she told me that she needed help around the house because she and dad both had full time jobs. Besides, mom had to spend extra hours at work because her cases ranged all across the county.

It looked to me like Mary was pregnant, and I finally asked mom if that was the case. It was, and about six months later, Mary had a little girl. I can't for the life of me remember her name, but I remember Mary rocking her in a little room next to mine. Eventually, Mary left, and I didn't think much about it. I just assumed she got a different job and moved on.

It must have been twenty years later, when Mrs. B and I were visiting home, that I remembered Mary and asked mom why she lived with us for a while.

Here's the real story: Mary and her husband moved to Illinois just a few months before. When her husband realized she was pregnant, he abandoned her and disappeared. Mary had no family in the area, and no family to go back to. Because she lived in Illinois such a short time, Mary was ineligible for public aid. My mother couldn't find any way for the state to help her, so she brought Mary home to live with us until she met the residency requirements.

I think of that story now and again, and it's just one of the hundreds of reasons why I've always been proud of mom.

The rocking chair . . . all three of our children were rocked in it, including Lisa. Lisa rocked TLK in it also, and it's sitting in Lisa's living room.