Today is a special day. It's my mom's birthday. Not just any birthday though - today my mom celebrates her 80th birthday. Quite a milestone. I am so lucky to have her as my mother.
My mom, Marlene, was born on June 14, 1932; she was the youngest of 10 children born to Hungarian immigrants who came to the United States just after the turn of the century searching for a better life in America.
She had older brothers and sisters that doted on her; my grandmother, my mom's sisters and one sister-in-law and some neighborhood ladies all turned out for this photo when my mom made her First Communion.
My mom attended Catholic grade school; the school was just three blocks from where she lives (as a child and still today!) In those days, the only teachers in the school were Benedictine nuns. Those nuns took a liking to my mom, they taught her how to play the piano and how to play the cello, and when she got older, they also taught her how to play the organ. Most importantly, they taught her how to tat! Those of you that follow this blog have seen pictures of my mom's beautiful tatting. (My mom is front and center in this photo!)
My mom also attended a nearby Catholic high school. After high school she became a secretary and worked for the State of Minnesota. Rumor has it she was quite the party girl with lots of friends. There were Saturday night card parties and afterwards they would roll up the carpet in the dining room and dance until the wee hours of the morning. And if the party was on a Saturday night, then on Sunday morning the whole group started off their day by going to mass!
In 1961 my mom met my dad and they got married followed by five kids in five years (can you imagine what that must have been like?) I am the oldest and the only girl.
On December 27, 1970, my dad suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. My mom was widowed with five children under the age of 10. As tragic as this was, we were the luckiest five children in the world. My mom never remarried. She dedicated her life to the five of us ensuring that we lived the most normal life possible. We always had good food on the table and clean, new clothes to wear. We all attended Catholic grade school and high school. There were music lessons and girl scout meetings for me; my brothers played hockey and baseball. At Christmas there were many gifts under the tree. I know that this couldn't have been easy, but somehow she managed to do it all.
Once my youngest brother started high school, my mom went back to work full-time, this time working for the Federal Government; she was a computer trainer for the Soil Conservation Service (you never want to use the word "dirt" around my mom!) My mom enjoyed traveling around the state of Minnesota and surrounding states to train in the field offices.
I don't remember what year she retired from the Federal Government, but you can see that they had a grand party to celebrate (I'm going to guess that it was about 1996?)
Since retiring she has continued to play the organ at several area churches - she plays for Sunday mass, at funerals, and at school masses.
She has fully enjoyed her retirement -- loves to go to baseball and hockey games (prefers local high school and college teams over the pros); she's a fabulous cook (think apple strudel, dumplings, etc.), she continues to tat, and she loves to travel. (If you revisit my archives from last July you can read a full report on the trip my mom and I took to Austria and Hungary.)
Her world continues to revolve around her children and grandchildren (seven total!)
So mom, on this your 80th birthday, I want to thank you for your love and your support and for everything you have ever done for me. I wouldn't be the person I am today had it not been for you. Have a wonderful birthday. I love you.
My mom will be celebrating her birthday exactly as she wants to -- she'll be attending the high school boys baseball tournament games. We will be having a big party to celebrate her birthday on Sunday!