I remember a whistle at the back gate of the house. Pictures show a handsome silver haired man with glasses, sometimes in uniform and other times in dress pants and a nice shirt. The pictures are all formal and stiff, and are that of a stranger. I never got to know him because my father died when I was four. And my mother was left alone to raise me and my two sisters.
Before she married, my mom graduated from college and enlisted in the Army, serving as a dietician. Marriage and children ended her career. At the time she left the service, my mom outranked my dad. He was a Master Sergeant and she was a Lieutenant. Those were the days when women weren’t allowed to stay in the military when they had children. On the day my father died, my mother was a stay at home mom.
That’s when she took charge. With the support of friends and my grandmother, who came to live with us, mom dusted off her degree and went back to work. She applied for a job with the local school district so we could all have the summer off together. It was only five years later that my grandmother lost her battle with cancer.
I’m not sure how mom was able to overcome the grief and I remember times when she shut herself in her bedroom to cry. But, she never gave up. I learned about strength and putting one foot in front of the other, moving forward, even through the darkest times.
My mother never remarried. She was the head of our family making all the difficult decisions, encouraging, disciplining and serving as an example to three strong willed girls.
My mother was there when I was going through my divorce and during my struggle as a single mom. She watched when I was sworn in as a police officer. She stood with tears in her eyes years later when I was promoted to Sergeant. She was so proud. I know she was there in spirit when I became a Lieutenant and then a Captain.
My mother was, and continues to be, my inspiration. It seems the women in our family never take what is considered to be the traditional role, but blaze our own trails.
As Robert Frost wrote,
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
I love you, mom!