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I have finally gathered the courage to write this… It’s probably the most heart wrenching post I will ever write. First let me extend my best wishes to all you great Mothers of all kinds out there! Here’s the story of my Mother: as a lovingly say my ‘making’ is all my mother’s fault.

‘Born at a tough time:

I owe a huge amount of gratitude to the woman who made me what I am today; my amazing mother! I can’t imagine how she was able to become what she was from where she came. Imagine being born the 13th child to a family with no indoor toilets just before World War 2 in Germany! She had 10 brothers, 2 sisters but was then raised by a relative to allow her to have a somewhat better life in the city.

Luckily she was in a loving home and made it through the war somewhat unscathed, but did learn many important lessons of life. The stories she told were of ways they managed to survive and be resourceful but I was spared from any stories of the atrocities of the war, thankfully.

After the war ended and things got better, she emerged with quite the style and met my father who unfortunately lost his dad in the war. Life was looking up… There are photo albums of sweet little pictures of travels around the country. Vespas and head kerchiefs and wonderful scenery!

Start of a Family:

And then came me, first of 3. Imagine how emotionally difficult it was for her to be raised by a family member, so that led to much love and stability towards her own children.

She worked as a milliner apprentice at the night shift in order to be with me during the day. Brigitte Bardot was alleged to be one of their customers. The memories of living in the apartment in Germany are somewhat vague to me but I love that they were able to have quite the photography of the time.

Sleek cars and chic attire were the norm it seemed, considering that they endured a war all would seem so cheerful & celebratory!

I only recently returned to see the town we had lived in and am baffled that we would leave such a beautiful place to immigrate to Canada but it was in an effort to make a better life for the family. My parents learnt english prior to departing so they could assimilate well into their new life.

Oh Canada!

Who gets dressed like this to visit the Botanical Gardens?! It was expected that you donned your sunday best even if it was for a country walk. Canada was such a fresh start and we embraced all the amazing nature here!

Canada has so many wonders (including the Niagara Falls) that we were constantly searching out more. Trips to Algonquin Park, Six Nations Reserve, fishing in every body of water we could find and settling down not far from the shores of Lake Ontario.

I had a great childhood with the kind of freedom we were allowed back then. Even as a young child I had a liking to be in the forest and spent many days ‘futzing’ around in the Escarpment of our city Hamilton.

Things to do, places to go…

Mom was always stylish and made sure the latest addition to the family did not get lost; the days when you could keep them on a leash. Our life revolved around family outings, non-commercial but still awe-inspiring places and things to learn. (Fort George Niagara)

Warm Heart

A respect for nature was taught in our household, even when it came to raising a baby squirrel that was fallen out of the nest. (oh, and I see I was already painting on my t-shirts…) These are the kinds of memories that children will hold on to for their lifetime. We were not a family with much disposable income so we managed to make exceptional experiences with what we had. I never felt as if I was missing something; a valuable lesson that I would then pass on to my children.

My Mother the Maker:

My mother always believed that it was best to be home for the children. To offset any loss in income she did what ever was needed for family good. Our one and only furniture was reupholstered many times, re-stained and repaired. Expenditures were little. She sewed most of our clothes (made my wedding dress) and then taught me how to sew my own. Our home always looked amazing and coordinated.

She guided me well into my career so that I too could make a happy family life.

My mother did not let gender designations stop her form doing anything within her physical power. Outdoor maintenance, fixits, vegetable garden were a few of her tasks.

From living through a war my mother learnt how to save. I inherited so many zippers, buttons and notions that were salvaged from items rather that being thrown away. Re-use & up-cycle were our way before it became trend.

However there did come some obstacles along the way like cancer; but I think that just made the challenge greater! I saw no pitying or complaints.

No Challenge too much for my Mother!

Her courage to take on a project even when it seems daunting was remarkable, and I must admit it has given me that identical characteristic. I think ‘I can do that’ before I really understand. Then I figure what it is and then I am so determined to make it work, no matter what. Yes, she made a patio in the backyard…

It is really just lumber and tools to finish the ‘rec-room’, even add the electrical wiring! And of course the house-dress is the perfect attire.

The Retirement Years

The dreams of living in the North for retirement were adjusted a bit to include a posh trailer on a quiet lake in Muskoka. Canoeing and chipmunk feeding were part of this heaven. They could not be happier than when the Grandkids would come and stay at the trailer (they made sure it was large enough). Again it was what they had wanted but on their own budget.

Sadly in my mom’s later years another cancer took the use of her arm. ‘The glass half full’ mentality stilll kept her active; having worked hard raising her family she was not going to give into the disease during retirement. She was determined to still enjoy the things that made her happy. Sitting at the sewing machine in the sunroom overlooking the lake was her paradise. She dreamed up ingenious devices to help sewing a quilt with one arm. I know I have subliminally absorbed her determination and many wonder where I got it.

Children absorb what they see even though you may not feel like you are teaching them; it sticks with them. I know this all too well; when one day my daughter called me and said; ‘bring the truck, I need to pick up this credenza from the side of the road’. I knew then that she was already starting to emulate my determination! (more on her credenza makeover & more later) That is the positive payback I am seeing in my children; that they understand that they too can do whatever they put their mind to!

Happy Mother’s Day Mom!

I hope you can read this from heaven and I thank you for all that you did to make me what I am today! I am forever grateful and can only hope that my children will feel the same! ‘The best Rose ever’!

I'm an artist & I make things... all kinds of things.

This Post Has 42 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing your Mom’s life. What a special woman she was….hope you have a lovely mother’s day. I too lost my Mom in Victoria, BC from cancer 4 years ago. I live in Australia now. Mother’s day is hard when you can’t buy your Mom a card or flowers or make a phone call but my Mom helped make me the person I am today and like your Mom they imprinted so much on me in the way I live my life. I miss my Mom a lot so like to think she is somewhere in the universe doing what she did best…being a Mom. Again…thanks for sharing.
    All the best
    Wendy
    Ps your masks are still the best pattern out there…!

    1. Oh the land of eucalyptus! I envy you for that! What ‘Moms do best’ is the best phrase! In these changing times I do hope more of the old traditions live on! Thanks for sharing your story!

    2. Your story was so heart warming. Sound as if you had an amazing mom. To live thru what she did. So glad you took back after her. I love your post. May God bless & watch over you. Thank you for sharing & amp; I also loved the pics. I’m an old picture lover.

  2. Beautiful!
    Enjoy your Mother’s Day
    We had ours back in March and I hope yours is just as good

    1. What a beautiful tribute to a very lovely lady. I’m sure she was/ is deeply proud of the woman you are!

  3. What a lovely tribute to an amazing woman! I lost my own mom two years ago and it’s still too fresh to write about so I admire your courage!

    1. Well, sadly I have been missing her for over 20 years now! I know she did more in her few years (68) than most do in 95! It still hurts. Take comfort in the memories!

  4. Ohhh we share so much history! I am the oldest of 5 and was born in Germany after the war. My mom was a seamstress and arrived in NY with her sewing machine and 3 children under the age of 5. Not only did she sew our clothes but she also kept zippers and buttons. She told me that after the war they carefully removed the basting threads to reuse. My parents worked incredibly hard but they also shared an attitude of anything is possible. There was a resilience in spite of having survived terrible atrocities.
    I admire you and how you freely share all your skills and projects. Your mother instilled some wonderful attitudes. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. Wow! We could be related… You will admit how much your mother has influenced who you are. I do hope you can pass some onto children or anyone worthy! Thanks for chiming in! Love it!

  5. Your story of your mother and her talented gifts and perseverance is inspiring. I am in Hamilton as well and i really enjoyed seeing the photos. Good luck in all your endevours!

  6. I loved your story and could see many parallels in my own life. My parents came thru the war also and emigrated to Canada from the UK in 1957. They could build, fix, sew, or invent almost anything needed . Dad put up a sign advertising “general building, landscaping and upholstery”. Mum questioned the upholstery part saying “You’ve never done that before..” He replied, “Everything you need to know is written down in a book somewhere.” He became sought after for fine upholstery work . Because of their attitudes it seemed normal for me to go to carpentry school in the 70’s and I’ve been building stuff ever since. My kids are inventive and creative, one has built a solar array and windmill on his house, supplies wifi to his neighborhood, and is now tinkering with a forge…

    1. Wow, I love your story too! It was what many did in those years! I am so impressed with your story. My dad went to work and wasn’t really the handyman type so Mom filled the gap! I upholstered our sofas when we bought our new house and it wasn’t that hard. It’s all about the deconstruction and redoing in the reverse order. I really enjoyed when I took apart this chair to see what was inside. I am very happy for you & your children!

  7. This is not only a loving “Thank you” to your Mom but a gift to your children and grandchild. They too will cherish this. If true that the acorn does not fall far from the tree, we can all thank your mom for having planted you so well!
    Thank you, Barb.

    1. Such kind words! I do hope to be able to pass on much to the kids and I must say; I see it come out without any coercing! I wish I had more pictures of her at work!

  8. Dear Barb,
    Seems like both of our Mother’s attitudes in life were similar. We have been very fortunate. Loved your story.
    Happy Mother’s Day.

  9. What a heartfelt story with wonderful old family pictures! I loved it! It reminded me of everything that my Mother, Parents, and Grandparents taught my family and I tried to pass it on to my family. A story like this should be passed on so they are not forgotten and we can appreciate the hard times that our parents went through for us.
    Children today don’t understand what hard times really are.

    1. Oh, I agree! I taught at a college for years and would be baffled at how students managed their priorities – it was a real eye opener. I am blessed with amazing responsible kids and even a grandchild!

  10. Thanks so much for sharing the beautiful story of your Mother. I Love reading about strong women ! My wonderful Mother was very much the same. Born in 1924, I think that was such a wonderful generation. They learned to make do with what they had and recycle before it was a “thing”. There was nothing she couldn’t do and I hope I’m half the woman she was.
    Wishing you the happiest Mother’s Day !!

    1. Yes, those were the times to be resourceful. Just understanding what your mother did will ensure you carry it on and model for those (children) around you.

  11. What a beautiful and loving tribute to your mother. I also grew up with a strong woman who taught me to love nature, garden, sew, paint, etc. No task was too daunting. When life gets tough I go outside and garden or do some other outside task. Somehow nature always grounds me and shows me what is most important. Happy Mother’s Day!

    1. For sure! I do the same! Working in the garden is like raising another ‘child’ of sorts! It certainly will reward you for your tough work! ‘Glad you were as lucky!

  12. I never got to meet her, but I love to hear the stories and I certainly can see the can-do attitude in your kids! I consider it a family trait! I hope it continues to the next generation – I’ll do my best to help with that! You speak of her with so much admiration and love and I enjoy seeing the pictures too. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself ❤️

    1. Thanks! We will try, try our hardest; but there are so many added distractions nowadays it’s going to be tough! We really need to get all the pictures organized and in a book(s)! Happy Mother’s Day!

  13. Oh, Barb…I love this post and your appreciation of your dear mother and her determination. What a remarkable person she was. Somehow I do believe that she can read this most loving post from heaven.

    1. Yes, I often have little quirks where I think she is somehow guiding me. It is not always about the personal career, but you can be successful in many ways! Thanks for your kind words!

  14. Hi Barb…
    Happy Mother’s Day!!
    I loved reading about your mom…she sounds like she was wonderful!!

    I got a good laugh…
    My mom kept me on a leash ‘back then’ on occasion, too. I would always go ‘my own way’ when I was outside exploring and esp. when she and my grandmother were shopping at the department stores……..sooo boring to me…I would get inside the circular clothes racks and pretend they were horse barns or sometimes they were just a quiet place to “be”.

    Thanks for the memory. : )

    1. Oh, I remember my kids hiding in those racks too! It’s funny she kept my brother on a leash and I was allowed to pack a lunch and head off into the forest for exploring ALL DAY! No cell phone… amazing!

  15. This account of your mother’s life, tenacity, good old fashion hard work, and love of her family was so heartwarming. She was an amazing woman and is testament to a mother’s love. She is looking down from heaven seeing and still showering love to her children as she tells the angels “yes, that’s my baby”.

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