Saturday, May 7, 2016


Duane A. Lienemann
Nebraska Extension Educator

     First I want to wish all of our mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day. I am sure a lot of my male friends are probably scrambling to find something appropriate for their better halves. Most likely their kids are way ahead of them in that regard. I am usually in that category – waking up Sunday morning and realizing what day it is and then reacting to panic over reason. When I was teaching I had a really good reminder, in that it seemed we always had graduation on Mother’s Day. I think it was a really good thing to move it off the day we should be honoring the maternal side of the equation. 
     Of course it is bitter sweet in that when we, as men, try to thank our wives for what they do we, but also have in mind our own mothers who birthed, raised, advised and nurtured us. I am of the age where my mother has left this earthly realm and has reaped her eternal reward. That does not keep a person’s mind from thinking of the person who most likely had the most influence in your life. I would bet that I am not the only one who looks back with fondness and with awe.
      For me it is the memory of her love for her kids (she raised ten of us) and her grandchildren; her incredible patience (Job had nothing over her); her love of flowers and nature – even baby chicks and runt pigs; her ability to multi-task, long before that was ever a buzz word; her ability to make a meal out of “odds and ends” that never tasted better anywhere else; and her ability to stretch a dollar further than anyone could believe possible. Can you imagine keeping house, getting kids to school, cooking for a threshing crew, doing the wash for an army - and still finding time to be a nurse, counselor and taxi-driver? Can you imagine dealing with the squabbles, changing of hormones and all the pangs of youth growing up? She knew where everything was it seemed. It didn’t matter if it was for the kids or her “farmer” husband.
     My mother absolutely loved this time of year. Spring was her delight and she reveled in it with the starting of her gardens, be it flower or vegetable. It was not an accident I think that her middle name was May. I went with her many times to help her dig up a wild flower that she spotted along a road or in a pasture. She would transplant them to a spot by her house. She loved her God and made sure that her children would attend Church and be well versed in the bible and all the stories would go to mold her children as she would see it – in the way of her Lord. She even found time to play the piano. I can still hear those hymns that were so sweet coming from her hands positioned on the worn ivories of her upright piano. 
     Speaking of that piano, we even found out that was her hiding place for her treasures. After all, who was going to move that big piece of furniture? Music was not her only pleasure. She had several cameras, from 35 mm to Polaroid, and even a panoramic one! All so she could capture the lives of her family and friends. She had boxes and albums of pictures that I hope one day to get a chance to go through. It would have been hard to do that in earlier years as sometimes memories can be painful. But I find as I get older those memories become even more important. Oh wouldn’t she have loved the digital camera and flash drives?  I know now why she was so fastidious in that regard. She knew how important history was and is. 
     I often think how she would have loved the computer, the internet, and particularly Facebook. I think she would have been a social media giant. She loved doing genealogy and in fact I got the bug for that from her. She loved knowing our heritage and was proud of the ancestry on both sides. She loved to read and had boxes of books on all kinds of topics. She encouraged the same in all of us and it stuck with me. She even had a love for the arts, whether it be music, poetry, dance or painting, which she also tried her hand at. She even could and would help her kids with homework. Not bad for a woman who only went through 8th grade. Letters – she spend hours writing to her relatives and especially to her children when they were off to college. What is amazing is she kept carbon copies of those letters. I still have mine in a box that she left me at her death. You talk about a snapshot of the past – and in your mother’s words. It brings both laughter and tears when I read them. 
     She was so proud that her children did well in school and was exceedingly pleased and proud that we all went to college. That was so important to her and our father. Education to her was the key to life. It was if she lived out her desire for higher education through us. She took delight in the fact that I was a teacher. She always thought I should be a college professor. I only wish that she could have lived to see me get the distinction of a Full Educator at the University of Nebraska. My guess is that would have been a big deal in her eyes. She had so much respect for schools and would fight the fights of education in our state. She was a stalwart proponent of small schools and led many of a fight sticking up for rural schools. After all, all of her children were the result of a small one room schoolhouse. And if that wasn’t enough she was a tireless warrior for special needs children and people who were created a little different than the rest of us. I think most State Senators knew my mother and her passion. She was not afraid to voice her opinions. I am sure that my tendency to do that comes from her. 
     My guess is that many of you could come up with very similar stories about the attributes of your own mothers. I have not done total justice to mine. I have been blessed with some nice awards that have come my way over the years, mostly for passions that were created and cultivated in me by my mother. But those accolades don’t even come close to what my mother should have had come her way. Sometime we take our mothers for granted and we should not. We all should sit down and make notes of what they have done for us and then tell them how we appreciate them, bring them flowers, chocolates or take them out for dinner. But I would bet a big hug would be even more appreciated. If only I could give my mom a hug today! 

The preceding information comes from the research and personal observations of the writer, which may or may not reflect the views of UNL or Nebraska Extension. For more further information on these or other topics contact D. A. Lienemann, Nebraska Extension Educator for Webster County in Red Cloud, (402) 746-3417 or email: or on the web at: 

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