|My parents, Lois Marie and B. G. Olson, in Sitka, Alaska about four years ago|
It goes without saying that none of us would be here were it not for our mothers.
And I have come to realize that, in addition, I would not be here, doing what I am doing and living where I do now, if it were not for Mom.
I have been thinking about this a lot lately, because this Mother's Day will be a transition for me: it's my first Mother's Day without my mother around. She passed away peacefully and without pain, with all of her children holding her, at noon last Sunday.
It was harder to recall in later years when she was not as energetic or well, but my mother was an adventurous young woman. My aunt Josie, who is my mother's younger sister, tells stories of all the places they went, just the two of them, and the exciting things they did when she and Mom were still small girls. Mom was the leader.
Maybe adventurousness was in the family. My grandfather Dewey Wedderien ran away from home at the age of 13 to join a circus and later flew biplanes (until he had one too many crashes). One of his sisters, my great aunt Hazel, was a well-known rodeo performer all over the Western U.S. and Canada in the early 1900's. My grandparents, my mother and her four brothers and sisters traveled from Maryland to California in an ancient touring car in the late 1930's. Later they sold the car and used the money to return East by bus. Mom caught malaria on that trip and was sick for quite a long time.
A Baltimore girl, she got on a train by herself at the age of 21 and traveled across the United States to marry B. G. Olson, whom she'd met when he was stationed briefly by the U. S. Army in nearby Washington, D. C. The story goes that when she got off the train in Tacoma, Washington he was not there to meet her. She was angry and getting ready to buy a return ticket when he showed up late; back then there were two train stations in Tacoma and he'd gone to the wrong one (but that's another story).
|My mother and I in Juneau, Alaska, 1957|
In short, my mother had an adventurous streak. As a young woman she took risks and enjoyed new things, as did my father. She and my father inspired their children to do the same.
Among other things, it was my parents who insisted that I study a foreign language, and encouraged me to choose Spanish. It was my mother who convinced me at the age of 16 to join a youth group that traveled to South America to do summer volunteer work. This was a critical formative experience that influenced my career plans and ignited a passion for "south of the border" that I feel to this day.
So in terms of my interests, where I live now, successes I've had, and what I am doing with my life, it was my parents, and in large part my mother who not only gave birth to me and raised me, but helped set me on a course that led to an interesting and unconventional life. And all of that brought me to Mexico, and to live in Mérida a few years ago, where life seems to just get better and richer as time goes by.
Thank you, Mom. I love you, and Happy Mother's Day.