May 15, 2014

Remembering Mama

Remembered daily, loved always, and deeply missed especially on her birthday. Today I celebrate my mother who was born on May 15, 1911 in Sample, Pennsylvania.


Here is an excerpt from my Aunt Rosemary's journal about the early years of my mother's life.

"She was a beautiful baby with big brown eyes and honey colored curls. By this time, Dad was more or less confined to his bed. He was dying from liver and lung damage due to the marble dust in his system. In those days safety precautions were not mandatory, so face masks were not used.
You can imagine the difficulty that mother experienced, caring for a baby, a sick husband and three other children.
A girl named Pearl was hired to help mother, she was fifteen. This gave me more time to be with my friends. That is what I was doing on the third day of April 1912. School was out for the year and I was going with Grace, my friend to Wild Wood, where they sold candy.
I was supposed to be watching Jim and Lillian, but Pearl was out in the backyard so I went on. Lillian started to follow me, but I told her to go back. She started to and I went on.
We were no more over the creek, when the Butler Shoreline train came around the bend on its way to Pittsburgh. There was a scream of metal as the car shuddered to a stop. Lillian hadn't gone back and was run over.
A group of men were working on the tracks and had gone to get more gravel to put between the ties. Lillian had fallen between two ties. She had cut her hand which required twelve stitches, her leg and several ribs were broken along with other cuts.
Everyone was in a panic. The frightened conductor insisted on taking her right away to Allegheny Hospital. Lillian was placed on an ironing board, her head bandaged and was wrapped in a blanket.
It was touch and go for awhile. Her nervous system had received a severe shock. She was placed in a waist high cast, her head stitched up and her ribs were wrapped as they used to do. 
After a few days, her sunny smile came back and she began to look for someone to play with. The cribs were lined up close together and someone left her crib side down. Over she went cast and all.  Horrified nurses came scurrying and feeling sure the child had further injured herself. 
She celebrated her second birthday while there, and the nurses gave a party for her. When Lil came home she was required to wear a heavy brace on her right leg for two years."
My mother is front row left.
My mother and her siblings.
Mom is second from the left.

My mother's father died when she was five years old. Her father was a member of the Moose Club, which sponsored/cared for the children of  deceased Moose members. It was an orphanage. So off they went on a train leaving Pittsburgh taking them to Chicago, Illinois and ultimately to Mooseheart in Elgin Illinois.

How fortunate they were that their mother was offered a position at Mooseheart. The girls lived in one of the girls dorm, their brother in the boys dorm while their mother was a house mother in a different dormitory. They never lived altogether under the same roof again, but they saw each other daily, an unorthodox family life style, but they still remained a family.

This is a Mooseheart photo, my mother is in the third row from the bottom on the left, you can see a faint circle around her little head.

Another Mooseheart photo, bottom, left my Uncle Jim, middle my mother/Lillian, top row middle my Aunt Rosemary, top right my Aunt Gertrude.

We have very few photos of my mother as a child during her Mooseheart years, but the ones we do have we cherish.

All of the children graduated from Mooseheart with a high school diploma, and trained for a job of their choice before they left the school at the age of eighteen.

My father at the bottom of the steps.
My mother at the top of the steps.

Shortly after leaving Mooseheart, my mother met and fell in love with my dad, got married had three children, me being the youngest.

My mother is in the middle of this photo, with her two sister-in-laws, Aunt Vi, and my favorite Aunt Victoria.

Here is a photo of my mother and father celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary.

My mother faced many challenges in life, but she had the most positive and cheerful outlook on  life. At her funeral mass, two priests from other parishes, who knew her, came to help celebrate her requiem mass. They pointed out her acceptance of life and as a model of Christian faith.

There is much more to my mother's story that I will share with you in another blog post. 

Happy Birthday Mom, I hope I can become half the women that you were.


  1. Our childhood lives must have been quite boring compared to what our parents went through, don't you think? Thanks for sharing with us. Linda@Wetcreek Blog

  2. My mom's birthday was yesterday. This was on beautiful story and tribute to your sweet mom. I remember her well.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your Mum. She sounds like she was a remarkable woman.
    It is my Dad's birthday this coming Monday 19th. He would have been 75 but I find that so difficult to imagine.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your mother Paulette, and I have no doubt she is smiling down on you with pride and joy on her face.

  5. Paulette, what a wonderful and moving tribute to your mother. I was riveted to this post throughout! What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it with us.