Mother's Day Reflections

As a child one of my most fond memories is that of my Mother arguing with my first grade teacher and several other Dominican sisters while I watched from the rear of the classroom. I had recently been demoted from the Elephants to the Lions reading group and now on the verge of flunking first grade.

My Mother pulled me from Queen of Heaven Catholic grade school in Albuquerque, New Mexico and enrolled me for a year in the local Elementary school Governor Bent where I performed much better. I returned to the Catholic System in the 3rd grade since attending Catechism on Saturday mornings was a drag; the interruption of my cartoon schedule to much to bear.

The appreciation of my mother advocating and fighting for me from such a young age remains codified in my psychic today.

My Mother Gertrude or Trudy suffered a series of horrific events prior to my birth. One was the motorcycle crash that led to the death of my thirty year old father while she was pregnant with me. Also while pregnant she was broadsided by a dump truck and conveyed later that while unconscious she received a vision of my deceased father and angels fighting against demonic forces eventually prevailing to spare her life and mine too!

As the middle of five children and the first male I was my mother’s child. My sisters both attended college with one eventually joining the Army Nurse Corps and my older sister remaining with IBM as a junior executive for many years.

While my eldest sister was seeking her way in the world she entered the postulate in a convent training seminary in Pueblo, Colorado. We drove to visit her one Sunday afternoon and I was privy as my mother engaged in a conversation with Carolyn regarding her happiness of considering a vow of holy orders. My sister departed the order a few months later.

My mother remarried and the job in which my stepfather was employed was completed and the division closed. We were offered relocation to Jackson, Mississippi or Kansas City, Missouri. They chose the later. While my stepfather was on business in Kansas City my mother climbed onto the roof to adjust the television antenna. She slipped and fell to the patio below landing on her left arm and elbow. I ran next door to ask our neighbor and police couple to assist us. They did and she was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for a fractured arm. My mother always referred adorningly to Sam as our good neighbor after one of her favorite movies starring the iconic Jack Lemon.

Upon moving to Kansas City I attended her physical therapy sessions at North Kansas City Memorial Hospital. She hated those appointments and would load up with a baseball player sized gum chaw. She bore the pain of the therapists stretching and bending her arm for many months but in the end she regained almost one hundred percent use and flexibility of her shoulder and forearm.

Sometimes as a family we would watch a movie together like “It’s a Mad Mad Mad …World” where my mother adorned in her favorite cloth robe and slippers sipped a Tom Collins and McCormick Whiskey highball and laughed until she cried for most of the movie. I learned the joy of simple things from my mother an appreciation of living in the moment the night that movie beamed into our home in black and white.

I was cultured to open the doors of each of my homes and entertain strangers from my mother. Each Christmas we invited the neighborhood over for drinks and a display of edibles and delicacies motivating Wolfgang Puck senses as delirious with desire. The open bar would be spread out all over the kitchen counter top and people would eat, smoke, drink, chat and laugh late into Christmas Eve and early Christmas morn. The fireplace in the den was crackling with the intensity of seasoned walnut and cedar logs. My brother and I would indulge in sampling various liquors and attend to the burning luminaries placed around the perimeter of our property. After the last of our guests departed for the walk home my mother would check out the presents under the tree feigning to look for gifts tagged for her but only reciting the names of each of her five children prior to retiring for the evening.

Trudy was most generous with her time and money too! While in high school we would shop together and spend an hour at the local shoe store finding the right school dress shoe that would fit such a narrow heal without slipping. She sat next to me as the salesman, perched on a shoe stole would measure my foot retire to the back room and return with boxes upon boxes of shoes neatly wrapped in soft white paper inserts. I would walk the length of the carpeted shoe display and check the look of my new leather in the angled for ankles floor mirror one shoe on one shoe off.

 The slippage of the shoe was as important as the look and Trudy was there to support my decision, whether shoes, slacks, dress shirts or casual wear.

Mother accepted a job at Macy’s and then in real estate after her last child and my sister Celeste old enough to care for herself without constant adult supervision. Some would say that moment has yet to transpire even though she is now forty plus years young.

While at Macy’s Mother set aside merchandise in the back room for one of their gigantic twenty or forty percent sales when she could take another ten or twenty percent as an employee using her Macy’s charge card.

One night she presented me with a signed black and white glossy of former Kansas City Chiefs Center E.J. Holub. She chatted with him during his appearance at her store at the Antioch Mall in Kansas City, North.

After leaving home for college and returning for Christmas my mother and I would sit at the kitchen table and talk late into the night and over time and much prodding she would divulge details of her and our extended family where I learned other than from a brief vacation back to Pennsylvania to visit my grandmother and origin of the family of my mother, a coal mining town in Appalachia born of hardship and toughness where my grandfather upon returning home from the mines would line each of my seven uncles up in the basement and beat them with his belt for failing to weed the garden or complete their other daily chores.

In our childhood innocence we were privy to none of the family suffering only the excitement of walking on the railroad tracks and trestle in the woods behind grandmas home; the smell of coal seeping somewhere from the deep green tree line shrouded in mystery the glistening tracks a half mile and curve down the line resonates in the mind of a young boy to this day.

My late Uncle Francis a Commander in the Navy was captured by the Japanese and interned for the entirety of the war recalled the beatings administered by his Father, my Grandfather, more than the atrocities of the Japanese when quizzed one day during our visit later in life on a breezy Philadelphia afternoon.

My mother as a child experienced the death of her brother, my uncle, who suffered a broken back deep in the shaft of the mine. He didn’t return home from work one day.

My mother was replete with stories but shielded me from the horrific account of my fathers death until much later in life and then amended her story finally to divulge the real details of a suspect in his crash and immolation wanting to protect her child from committing an act of retribution  appreciating the genetic complexion of her own family and my fathers Scotch and Scot-Irish heritage a warrior class of people repelling the advance of the Roman Army at Hadrian’s Wall some millenniums prior.

Trudy relayed stories of how when my Father was alive she packed my two sisters in the car to leave town and escape his abuse. My Father on his motorcycle would overtake her on the edge of the city limits sweet talk family values persuading her to return home one more time. Carolyn relayed how one time my Father Charles sought to cook a Turkey dinner while Trudy, Carolyn and Elizabeth attended the Disney production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, but the ice entombed bird wouldn’t thaw fast enough so in an alcohol fueled rage he pitched it through the kitchen wall. Upon arriving home my mother removed the Turkey and hung a portrait over the hole in the wall.

My wife and I were engaged on Mother’s Day of 2000 and were married in 2001 shortly after her conversion to Catholicism. We celebrated our wedding reception on a Friday night in our new home at 5189 Ridge Heights Las Vegas, Nevada and after winding down the festivities of a proper wedding and home reception, bidding farewell to our family and friends, departed early the next afternoon postponing our honeymoon to visit my mother now residing in an Alzheimer’s specialty care home in Houston, Texas.

Tammy and I arrived early for Mass at the local parish and rendezvous of our reunion.

When my mother entered the church just prior to the processional she saw me from afar and screamed my name. My brother and his wife escorted her to our pew and we celebrated our last Mass and brunch together my mother slipping into and out of her affliction that day and dying three years later.

I am grateful that Trudy was my mother and grateful that she remained supportive in spite of the jealousy vented towards me by my sisters. One day she intervened in a verbal bullying of me by both of my older sisters while I was cleaning the kitchen of our home at 1709 N.E. 76th Street Kansas City, North. What began as a slight mocking of my obedience to her request that I clean the kitchen rapidly escalated to a full throttle personal attack by Elizabeth and Carolyn on me!  Trudy’s intervention reduced both of my sisters to tears in a matter of seconds.

I knew that day that God provided a living saint to protect me from the forces of evil even in my own family until I could learn to wield my own sword. I experienced fear not only loneliness nor appreciated until recently that some people seek to harm others projecting their own deficiencies and personality disorders onto others.

 I allowed many of these people into my life and sometimes when eventually asked to leave they turned on me ultimately to their own detriment as walking in the love of Almighty God one cannot be defeated if it’s the will of the Lord; not by people, not by corrupt judges or the elected and not by force of any satanic army. The Lord shall set a feast for me in sight of my enemies…. my cup overflows with blessings {Psalm 23:5}[1]

They say that women tend to marry men that remind them of their fathers. I married a woman who was my mother personified in grace, gratitude and holiness. Years later my wife Tammy Campbell was tested when some ladies under the pretense of reporting a news story sought to destroy my reputation and life, the petty jealousy visited upon me by my own sisters returned in a extended expedition of public ridicule, internet bashing replete with lies, perjured testimonies, stalking and other anonymous threats. Much of their postings, bullying and email hacking now prosecuted as felonies but not then. They have receded but vanished not. During this trial my wife stood shoulder to shoulder with me and true to the form of my mother held the line when her own reputation was attacked and she was accused in anonymity through a letter mailed to St. Joseph Husband of Mary in Las Vegas, Nevada of working as a phone sex operator. The reigning pastor Father Bob Stoekig now since reassigned to a “quieter” parish in Boulder City, Nevada failed to support us in our time of need though we had dedicated the previous ten years of our lives to teaching catechism and moderating bereavement groups, in this parish of our marriage, preferring instead to wilt on the vine in the face of propagandized hate allegedly authored by Darcy Spears the suspected anonymous letter writer and now local ABC and KTNV-13 investigative reporter.

Friends of ours visiting with Father Robert Stoekig recently reported that he relayed his unhappiness of his current pastoral assignment to them. We’re sorry to hear of the demise of a once promising priestly candidate for elevation to Bishop; maybe Father Bob Stoekig should initiate some action to rectify his current moody disposition like leave the priesthood and stole behind for wedding garments; raise a family and celebrate your own Mother’s Day by serving your wife and bride breakfast in bed.

There may be times that you’ll cherish your broody days in the hood but nothing can take the place of a great marriage forged in daily communication, fidelity and love; and if not willing to commit yourself to the happiness of someone else in the vow of marriage then try an anonymous random act of kindness one day at a time for the rest of your life. We guarantee mood elevation and no withdrawal.

I am grateful too that my brother held the line while my Sister Elizabeth attempted to consolidate the power of the family unto her. She greatly restricted my brother’s access to visit his mother and transport her on daily trips until he promised not to divulge her actions in covering up an alleged hit and run accident involving her son Matt in Sugarland, Texas. No persons were involved only other vehicles but it was enough of a concern for Elizabeth to reverse her tyrannical oversight and provide “Ed Dog” unlimited access to chauffer Trudy on excursions around Houston and to church the weekend we arrived.

Life had returned full circle for Ed as in high school Trudy had driven the get away car loaded with an old couch that had been chucked on our front lawn by some Celeste adoring high school boys. Trudy turned the corner and Ed heaved the couch out of the back of the Plymouth Fury III station wagon onto the suspect lawn the centrifugal force and roll over action lacking smoke and flames but worthy of reproduction for film stunt archives. “Ed Dog” was required to surrender to the local authorities and Gladstone, Missouri Police for his actions.

The Empire struck back though as Ed moved to California and upon the death of Trudy, Liz our sister chose to have an attorney call both Ed and I to inform us of her death. Ed relayed to me that while standing in a Home Depot he received the news on his cell phone. He was so disturbed and bewildered that my sister would delegate the simple gracious conveyance of our mothers passing to a lawyer that he kept repeating; “who is this?” to the caller; his denial that such a call could transpire his only insulation from her retribution and cruelty by proxy.

Years later Elizabeth offered to send Ed the old Pfaff Sewing Machine that Mother promised he could have as he had become an accomplished seamstress in his own right. Ed refused and the great dynasty that our sister sought to wield influence and control over her siblings by occasionally doling out dusty family heirlooms from her garage ended badly. True enough Carolyn and our sister Celeste groveled for a few crumbs their pride subordinated to their need for greed as they each licked the boots of their sister for consideration of eventually receiving another trinket of nothingness.

The love of our parents lost to siblings and sisters but not to us as we were a family raised on love, hot meals and discipline. The rest was just stuff.

Thank you Trudy and for all Mother’s for teaching us the difference;

 If your son or daughter has made you proud we honor you. If you son or daughter has struggled with their own demons, has abandoned their children, is incarcerated, on death row or deceased we honor you for loving them as only a mother can regardless of the pain and suffering relegated to you by him, her or them.

.. and thank you Tammy and all loving wives for your support of us in our successes and failures… and if you’re a mother and or a wife struggling with your own demons, grief, addictions and or co-dependencies remember Recovery is for everyone!

Happy Mother’s Day now and each day of every year till kingdom come!

Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee….


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10.05.27 Copyright © 2010

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Queens  of Heaven Catholic grade school

God loves Mothers and Mothers have children. We are not always where we want to be but we are always where we need to be. Where God wants us.  Mothers Day, Mothers in hospitals, Mothers that are gone. The church is my mother and God is my father… Being accountable to God for all my actions I am ready how about you?

Bob Seger

Early Seger