My mom is an incredible woman. She's told me stories of her childhood that help me to understand the determination with which she's chosen to live her life. Her mother died when she was only a year old. Her dad remarried, so my mom and her sister where raised by their step-mother who brought her own three children into the marriage. When my mom was eight or nine years old, her step-mother decided to leave her dad for a few years - leaving my mom and her sister to take care of their step-mother's three children. I had a hard enough time adjusting to all the responsibilities of motherhood at 25 years of age. I can't fathom that kind of responsibility being left to sisters who were only children themselves.
Growing up on a farm meant responsibilities of another kind, as well. There were chores to be done: cows to be milked, eggs to be gathered and horses to be fed. The garden had to be hoed and the ripe vegetables gathered. Today, it's very fashionable to have a dark tan, but my olive-skinned, mom hated showing up for the first day of school with a tan. There was a stigma attached to having to work on a farm - the city kids thought of themselves as far superior.
It's amazing that God can use every experience to shape us into who He wants us to be. My mom was a fan of the yodeler, Elton Britt. By listening to his records over and over, she taught herself how to yodel and would practice while pumping water for the cows. At an early age, my mom developed a love for art. She tells me of the time that she used charcoal from burned, rotting stumps and began drawing on an easel made out of a board found in the pasture. That 'doodling' began a lifelong journey as an artist.
At some point, my mom's step-mother returned. They didn't have a very close relationship. By age thirteen, my mom asked for money to buy her schoolbooks for the up-coming school year, but her step-mother refused and told her to get a job. To her step-mother's surprise, my mom did. She moved into town and lived with a family who hired her as a nanny. Again, God's fingerprints were clearly seen - using the difficult experience of raising her step-brother and step-sisters to equip her for the next step He had for her.
Throughout her life, my mom has chosen not to give up. After she married, there were many challenges she continued to face after my dad had open-heart surgery and later was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. In a day when marriage vows seem to be taken seriously only "in health," and not "in sickness," my mom honored the vow she had made before God and took care of my dad. When my dad had to go on medical disability due to the progression of his disease, my mom supplemented their income by finding housecleaning jobs. She sacrificed, so my brother and I could make it through college, debt-free.
I'm so thankful for my mom and all that God has taught me through her. Even after my dad passed away, she continued on, refusing to give up. Today, my mom is a successful artist who has had the opportunity to display her art work not only in the United States, but also in Japan and Australia. At 71 years of age she taught herself how to build a web-site, how to use difficult software, and to this day, continues to take courses to improve her artistic talents. She turned 74 this year and currently displays her art work in galleries around the Michigan area. What a legacy, what a mom!
*You can view my mom's art work at: http://www.normaboecklerart.com/