The blessings of a good mother

Mother’s Day 2024 is my siblings and my sixth observance of the special day without a mother. Our mother passed away in November 2018.

The six Huisman kids were blessed with a wonderful mother.

On a recent Friday my three brothers and I got together for lunch and spent three hours reminiscing and telling stories. Our parents came up frequently during that conversation.

When discussing our teen years, for instance, all four of us recalled coming home in the wee hours. In the layout of our parental home, the bathroom was on the first floor, adjacent to our parents’ bedroom. So were the stairs that took us to our second-story bedrooms.

The house was dark when we arrived home sometime after midnight. Regardless of our attempts at sneaking in quietly, the instant we stepped onto the first step, we heard our mother say, “Good night.”

Our father was cutting logs, as they say, but Mom didn’t go to sleep until her boys (and later her girls) were all home safe.

Mom was a hard worker. She had grown up in an immigrant family during the Great Depression and that experience impacted the remainder of her years. After completing the eighth grade in a country school, her parents hired her out to a farm family as a hired girl. The rest of her life was one of hard work and raising children. Our father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at age 40 and Mom cared for him for nearly 25 years. She taught us by example the value of honest labor and did not tolerate laziness.

Our mother hated profanity and scolded us when our youthful speech got a little rough. However, Mom had grown up in a family of 12 kids, including seven brothers. I am convinced she knew nearly every cuss word in the book. True to her convictions, though, she (almost) never used those words.

However, if you listened carefully when Mom was truly upset (which happens when raising six ornery kids) you might hear her mutter a common “bad” word under her breath — in German. Mom kept it real.

Mom had inherited a treadle-powered Singer sewing machine from her mother-in-law and was saving money to purchase an electric sewing machine. That savings fund, however, was used for anything but a sewing machine.

When I was a sophomore in high school, our class was given the opportunity to purchase class rings. I could not afford one and did not consider a class ring to be important. I did not mention the matter to my parents.

Mom heard about the class rings from a classmate’s mother. She asked me about the rings and I told her I didn’t need a ring; I didn’t want a ring and I couldn’t afford a ring.

She insisted that I order a class ring and told me she would pay for it. She said high school was a one-time experience and I should have a class ring to remember it. Understanding our family finances, I knew that the money would come from Mom’s sewing machine savings. I protested, but she insisted and I ordered a ring.

This generosity was repeated for me and my siblings many times over the years. Mom did eventually get her electric sewing machine.

On the day of Dad’s funeral I arrived at the church to find Mom crying at Dad’s casket. “I tried so hard to take care of him,” she said. “I wish I could have done more for him.”

I reminded Mom of a comment by Elvis Presley that all he ever wanted was a woman who loved him simply for who he was. Giving Mom a hug, I told her, “Elvis had millions of dollars but Dad had a woman who loved him for who he was. Dad died wealthier than Elvis.”

Mom taught us what love was all about.

When one of her family hurt, Mom hurt. When my Cindy died unexpectedly my siblings brought our mother to my house within a few hours. Mom hugged me and cried with me. Even big boys need their mothers and in subsequent weeks I visited my mother frequently. In those early visits Mom listened to my aching heart and cried with me.

When recalling our mother recently, my brothers and I agreed: we are truly blessed to have been raised by Harmina Catherina Gelder Huisman. We miss her … a lot.

Arvid Huisman can be contacted at huismaniowa@gmail.com. ©2024 by Huisman Communications.


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