Sacrifice looks like Swedish pancakes and an Audrey Hepburn coat
When I was 13, my parents divorced, leaving my Mom a single parent of three children, ages 6 to 13.
She purchased a two-bedroom, one-bath house in a working-class neighborhood near her job at the Owen Illinois Glass Company, where she worked rotating shifts on an assembly line packing glass bottles into boxes for shipping.
Whenever extra shifts were offered to her, she would work overtime to provide for her family. Whenever she worked a graveyard shift (midnight to 8 a.m.) she would come home in the morning and tell us to be quiet because she had to “sleep fast.”
When she was home, she worked hard around the house doing housework, cooking, cleaning and yard work. I used to tell people that I wasn’t sure my Mom’s knees bent because I never saw her sit down.
She taught me that there is always a solution to a problem if you think outside the box. When our single-level house needed painting, I climbed up on the ladder and painted the upper half of the house and my Mom painted the lower half. When money was tight for food, Mom would tell us she was going to make Swedish pancakes for dinner — pancakes made with flour and water and topped with butter and sugar. We all loved Swedish pancakes and thought they were a great treat.
Mom worked hard and liked to play hard. When I was old enough to babysit, Mom would go out for the evening with her girlfriends. I was spared from knowing too much about those evenings, but I do know that one time when my Mom came home, she had shaved her eyebrows and penciled in new eyebrows. Her old eyebrows never grew back, and she had to pencil on new eyebrows every day for the rest of her life.
When I turned 18, I was old enough to tour the glass factory. I was horrified at what I saw. The assembly line where my Mom worked was dark, hot and noisy from all the bottles clanging together. I thought of all the times I had asked my Mom to buy me something that I wanted — a guitar during the Hootenanny era, and a navy blue coat that I saw Audrey Hepburn wear in a movie. She worked a double shift in order to save money to buy me what I desired.
I thought to myself, ‘How much love does it take to work 16 hours under these conditions to buy your child something they think they need?’ I never asked for anything else again.
My Mom had a great love for Hawaii and watched every movie and documentary about Hawaii. Her dream was to go on vacation to Hawaii. However, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer and passed away before she could fulfill her dream. I don’t know for sure, but I like to believe that for my Mom, Heaven looks a lot like Hawaii.
Cheryl Pearson lives in Central Point.
Do you have something to say? Do you have a humorous take on current events or an insightful angle on the seemingly mundane? Maybe you have a view of life that will help us all see things a little more clearly. If so, email your 500-word column to features editor David Smigelski at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Columnist for a Day” in the subject line, and include your phone and city of residence. The rules are simple. Keep it short. Have a point. Don’t cuss. And make us glad we asked. If we like it, we’ll run it in the Sunday paper.