Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Meanest Mother in the World

When I was growing up. I recall having a cupboard above the phone where we stored our phonebooks, bills, pencils, and other odds and ends.

For some reason I was searching for something in that cupboard one night when I found a newspaper clipping of an article called, “The Meanest Mother in the World”

Being quite young, I read the article with just a bit difficulty and remember thinking, “Wow, my mom does all of this stuff.” when I got to the end, I didn’t appreciate the message of the article but rather thought it was some lame joke.

Still, I have never forgotten that article. For the message of the article has stuck in my mind. Through the years, my view of the ending has changed quite drastically. I get it now. Whether that be a little more maturity, life’s experience, gratitude towards my mother, or that fact that I am a mother myself, I am grateful for the ending… and for the message of the article that has stuck with me.

Rather than putting the whole article here, it can be googled if you wish to read it in it‘s entirety. It’s written by Bobbie Pingaro in 1967. See? I told you I was young :) But here is enough of it so you get the idea:

I had the meanest mother in the whole world. While other kids ate
candy for breakfast, I had to have cereal, eggs or toast.

My mother insisted upon knowing where we were at all times. You'd
think we were on a chain gang. She had to know who our friends were and
where we were going. She insisted if we said we'd be gone an hour, that
we be gone one hour or less--not one hour and one minute.
The worst is yet to come.

We had to be in bed by nine each night
and up at eight the next morning. We couldn't sleep till noon like our
friends. So while they slept-my mother actually had the nerve to break
the child-labor law. She made us work. We had to wash dishes, make
beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I believe she laid
awake at night thinking up mean things to do to us.

She always insisted upon us telling the truth, the whole truth and
nothing but the truth, even if it killed us- and it nearly did.

By the time we were teen-agers, she was much wiser, and our life
became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of a car for
us to come running. She embarrassed us to no end by making our dates
and friends come to the door to get us.

Our marks in school had to be up to par. Our friends'
report cards had beautiful colors on them, black for passing, red for
failing. My mother being as different as she was, would settle for
nothing less than ugly black marks.

As the years rolled by, first one and then the other of us was put
to shame. We were graduated from high school. With our mother behind
us, talking, hitting and demanding respect, none of us was allowed the
pleasure of being a drop-out.

My mother was a complete failure as a mother.
Out of four children, a couple of us attained some higher education.
None of us have ever been arrested, divorced or beaten his mate.
Each of my brothers served his time in the service of this country. And
whom do we have to blame for the terrible way we turned out?
You're right, our mean mother.

Look at the things we missed. We never got to march in a
protest parade, nor to take part in a riot, burn draft cards, and a
million and one other things that our friends did.

She forced us to grow up into God-fearing, educated, honest adults.
Using this as a background, I am trying to raise my three
children. I stand a little taller and I am filled with pride when my
children call me mean.

Because, you see, I thank God, He gave me the meanest mother in
the whole world.

Last year around this time, I wrote a tribute to my mother in my post for Mother’s Day. I bring up this article now because as Mother’s Day rolls around, I not only think of my dear angel mother and all that she tried so earnestly to teach me, I think of myself being a mother and what I have tried to teach my own children. Have some of my mother’s traits passed from one generation to the next?

Am I the meanest mother in the world? There are certainly days when my children would vigorously nod their heads. Surely I had my days when I felt like I was the meanest mother in the world. We, together as a family have been on a learning curve since day one. However, I did have my mother as a wonderful example and I thank my Father up above that I had her footsteps to follow and to help me on my path.

As I reflect over the years of being a mother, I get teary eyed and my heart swells. My children are my pride and joy. They are truly the miracles in my life. Now I have a daughter and a grandson to add to my mother and grand-motherhood. What more could I ask for?

As the saying goes, (maybe I have tweaked it just a bit) but,

“Some of the greatest blessings in my life call me Mother

I love being a mother (and grandma). There have been times that I have been accused of being the meanest mother in the world, and well, though I don’t cherish the name, ”meanest” because it carries a negative connotation, after this article, maybe it has a positive significance.

If that’s what taught my children to be all that they can possibly be-- and I learned it from a mother who taught me some very valuable life lessons about being the best that I can be, maybe the lessons and the teacher aren’t so mean after all.

May we all be the meanest mother in the world with the most honorable actions and intentions.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Book Reveiw

Through my dear friend Cheri Crane, I learned of a special book and I was immediately intrigued. Now that I’ve read it, I am so impressed, I thought I would pass word on. I would highly recommend this book to everyone. (Seriously, everyone should have a copy of this.)

There are three friends of Cheri’s, all of whom were sisters. Their names are Susan, Jean, and Trudy.

Their mother had declining health and had therefore spent a lot of time in various hospitals. Though the mother had a mind that was sharp and very much in tact, her speech had worsened to the point that her she no longer could convey her needs. Often times family members had to try to translate to the hospital staff for her because they could no longer understand what her wants and needs were. It became extremely frustrating for everyone involved.

One sister reported that on more than one occasion their mother would ring for assistance only to be walked out on and left in tears because the hospital staff couldn’t understand what she wanted or needed.

Their mother eventually passed away.

It was only a few short years later that this family learned that their brother in law ( one of the three sister’s husband) had been diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. While his mind stayed intact, his body was deteriorating. Speech was one of the things affected. Determined not to go through the suffering and frustration that they had experienced while their mother was a patient as she tried to express simple and basic needs, one sister was determined to find a way to help.

After much prayer and meditation, ideas began to form.

If they could write down simple sentences and he could point to that sentence, they’d know what he needed. The letters would be big enough for eyes that might find it hard to read and could be made out clearly. There would be icons with simple pictures for easy detection. All of this would be done in bright colors for cheerfulness, etc.

The sisters talked with each other and put it all their ideas together. As an end result, they came up with the book:

Communication for the Cognizant, Nonverbal Patient

The book was a success, there was a huge difference between their experience with the brother in law and the mother.

This book is very simple and easy to use. It’s designed to be used for those who have lost their ability to communicate verbally and gives them their voice back only to be heard in another way.
I want to add my personal experience and opinion about this book.

I have been a caretaker in a couple of different capacities. I know through experience how difficult and frustrating it is for the patient to lie there and have all their freedom taken away-- to be solely dependant on others for their well-being. Especially if they were once independent and liked to be the one who took care of others themselves.

For the caretaker, it’s hard to guess what the patient’s wants or needs could be. To burden them with a million questions can be frustrating for you and for them as well as you try to figure out a way to make them more comfortable. Doing so without communication skills can be not only frustrating, it can be stressful and even scary. In a patient’s most challenging times, you want to do all that you possibly can in such difficult circumstances. But without communication it can seem nearly impossible.

My grandmother is now 101. She is sharp and witty yet her health is declining. She has had strokes and other ailments that are causing her to lose clarity of speech. Her age is taking a toll on her dear sweet body. She lives in Denmark. We have decided to send this book to my aunt to help them communicate more easily with her. Though the book is in English, and my grandmother only speaks Danish, the pictures are universal and the words are in simple, large print, that it will allow my aunt to translate. I believe this book is just what they need. I hope to hear of their success with it.

I briefly told you the story behind the book taken from the introduction. You can read more about it for yourselves. It’s a very touching story. This family experienced many personal challenges and through their heartaches, loss, and absolute dedication and courage to their loved ones, a wonderful book has come forth to help us give those who have lost their voice another way to express themselves.

To order this book go to

Or to see more you can visit My Companion Voice and click “like”