- Martha Rasche
Remembering Their Mothers
Mary was 7 when her mother died. Don was 8 when his died. Wilma was 12. Katharine was 17 when her mom died of lung cancer and leukemia and immediately she became the surrogate parent of her four younger siblings.
The deaths of their mothers and how it affected them in their young lives was among the topics these individuals — now in their 70s, 80s and 90s — reflected on and included in their written life stories.
Mary recalled that the songs sung at her mother’s funeral included “The Lily of the Valley” and “God will Take Care of You.” When the congregation got outside of church after the service, the little girl put her arm around her father’s leg and said, “I will take care of you, Dad.”
Katherine’s father was away from the family when her mother died, so Katherine effectively became the head of household. “My whole life changed. I grew up overnight. I had the responsibilities of raising my three brothers and little sister, taking care of a house and having no job,” she wrote.
“The whole town supported and helped us,” she continued, citing neighbors, local shop owners, the mayor, the city police chief, the county sheriff and the county judge by name.“People brought food, clothing, a load of coal — and a Girl Scout troop raised enough money to buy us a used TV.”
Some who helped out, she wrote, “I’ll never know by name but know by heart.”