By Jan Dynes
My mother would be 104 this month if she was still with all of us. Mother’s Day always followed just after her birthday. So she is on my mind.
Mary Jane Seibertz was born during the Spanish Flu Epidemic in 1918. She brought 3 daughters into this world, one is now deceased.
She was a matriarch of 5 grandchildren and they in turn have 7 more and there are 5 more great grandchildren. That was just by blood and birth.
Through marriage she played a role in raising lots of other children. I carried on that tradition.
Mother was an only child. Her life started off charmed, her childhood home was a mansion and the stories she shared about her childhood were magical. but like everyone else she later had some difficulties too. No one escapes those.
But mom had class and style and she could have a conversation with anyone. She was beautiful. When I was a child, she told great stories of her childhood. When I was older, I rolled my eyes at her talking to strangers in the grocery store line. Yet now it is I that talks to all strangers everywhere. I have conversed with people all around the world in that same easy style she had, and it has made me so many wonderful friends. I like my mother, am unafraid of strangers and always willing to get out there and make mistakes in order to live a life of dreams fulfilled and ones that have serious stumbles and ramifications too. But we really lived with abandon. I still do.
Mom grew up in a time when it wasn’t as easy to be a woman, single mother, or divorced. She worked many jobs that weren’t easy, after a privileged childhood that hadn’t prepared her for how difficult life would be later.
Her husband went to war, and she sold war bonds and helped at the canteen while pregnant with my sister, Diane. She saw lots of changes in her life. The Roaring 20’s in her childhood, the 1929 Crash, the Great Depression, WW2 and the Korean Conflict, Vietnam Nam, the bopping 50’s, crazy 60’s with hippies and Woodstock, cults and Civil Rights growing pangs and even rioting in the streets.
She taught me we were all equal and that made me stand up and fight for right too. I got very involved in the Civil Rights movement and I cared deeply and early about equality. My mother pointed the way.
As a teen I saw my mother’s weaknesses more than her strengths. In my 20’s I made some of her same mistakes. In my 30’s we became friends. We vacationed together and I got to know the woman, not just the mother. I learned to like, not just love her.
We never had a normal mother-daughter relationship or family for that matter. But looking back, I know she tried as hard as she could in a world that didn’t always support her and through times that took all she had.
Mother was a class act, not always easy, but strong and a survivor of very tough times to be a woman, especially an independent one. Thanks mom for all the lessons by both word and example and teaching me to forge my own ability to face anything with laughter and positivity because of my unconventional upbringing.
Diane and I are still here and in us, you carry on through our children and grandchildren and great grand children….
You are not gone, we all carry you as part of us. As Mother’s Day approaches I know many of you out there will revel in your own unique memories.
A toast and a deep inner smile to my Mom, 4/29/1918, and to everyone else’s too.Hug those sweet memories deeply with gratitude and love to all those strong women who molded us. We are us because they were them!
Jan Dynes, the author of Refraction, Dottie’s Gift, Jamal’s Story, The River and Hear Our Voices moved to Cuenca on Easter four years ago and fell in love with the city and its people. She lives on a finca high upon a mountaintop, 25 minutes out of the city at 10,400 ft. She found her paradise above the clouds looking out over her beloved Cuenca which serves as her muse.