Friday was my Mom’s 70th birthday. Can you believe it? 70!! Man, she’s old.
I kid, I kid…well sort of. Check out what Cedella says when she finds out how old Grandma is…
Ella sings Happy Birthday to Grandma
My mother was born in Hartford City, Indiana and grew up in rural Lapeer, MI. She was born in the midst of WWII. Before color TV. Thankfully after electricity, indoor plumbing and cars were popular. Before civil rights and women’s rights and gay rights. I don’t think they had rights back then…
When she was a girl she had a pony and was a competitive roller skater. After graduating from her tiny high school she went to college in Detroit at Wayne State (also my alma mater) and got her master’s in Library Science at the Detroit Institute of Technology.
That’s where she met my Dad. At the DIT library in the 70′s. He was 10 years younger than her and African-American. Cause she’s a trailblazer like that
They traveled all over Europe. And in 1975 they were married. And in 1978 they had me. My sister followed in 1980. My brother in 1983. And my baby sister was born in 1995. And has been living permanently with Mom since 1997.
She has worked as a librarian for a lot of her adult life, but she also worked tirelessly for many many years for my grandparent’s company, Eppert Oil. But now she is back to doing what makes her the happiest.
My mom is affectionately known my hundreds of kids from the Metro Detroit area as “Miss Linda”. She has been the Children’s Librarian at the Hazel Park Memorial Library for over 10 years. It was my extreme honor to have worked with her for nearly 6 years, before leaving to have Cedella.
And those they may just be random and useless facts to most, but to me they are the dots that connect to form a picture of this tremendous woman. A mother who has always sacrificed anything and everything for her children.
A woman who never shied away from a challenge or from something that was different or out of the ordinary. A woman who took all sorts of risks.
She has the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. Not thinking twice about taking in and raising our baby sister despite the fact that she is my father’s child with his second wife. It was never a question of whether she could manage, she just did it. And Kylara is all the better for it.
Sure my Mom is a librarian but she is truly a wealth of information. Most of it trivia-worthy and otherwise useless, but full of it nonetheless. If I ever have a question or need advice she is the first person I call.
Wanna know how to get Sharpie off your naked baby? How to properly paint a dining room table? When did Michigan become a state? She’s got an answer, I assure you.
But even being full of answers, Mom is not a know-it-all and certainly not an advice-pusher. What impresses me the most about her now that she’s a Grandma? She has never once questioned our parenting decisions, criticized the way I parent, or made me feel like I’m doing things wrong.
Even though she wasn’t a fan of cloth diapers at first (or ever) she never questioned our use of them. Despite thinking I was absolutely nutso for having an unmedicated birth, she was there, for both, holding my hand and cheering me on. Even thinking our water birth was “so cool”.
She has never made passive aggressive remarks about how something was “good enough for my kids, why isn’t it good enough for your kids”. In fact, Mom just lets us be and offers help when asked. Period. And I love her SO much for that. And maybe even value her opinion more for the simple fact that she offers it only when asked.
It’s sad to me now that I spent so much of my adolescence hating my Mom and fighting with her. I never wanted her advice and god forbid she tell me what she thought I should be doing. There were many years I couldn’t even stand being around her.
And I questioned her decisions constantly, her decision to stay with my Dad in particular. But when Michael and I were having marriage issues last year, she never once said a bad word about him, or questioned my decision to make things work. She just listened and gave me comfort.
After my Dad died and my stupid boyfriend at the time broke up with me because I “cried too much” she drove with me to Chicago, packed up all my things, and moved me back home to Detroit. It was on that trip that I knew that my Mom was who I wanted to be when I grew up.
She never once told me I was stupid or silly for loving that jerk, she let me be alone when I needed to be, and she commiserated with me when I was ready to trash-talk him. And she paid for movers. Considering we lived in a fourth floor walk-up I love her even more for that.
When I moved back from Chicago we started working together at the library. There was no nepotism involved, I got the job all on my own, and hopefully made her proud with the work I did there. In fact, I know I did. We worked closely on the Summer Reading club and other kids programs, and I even trained her once when we upgraded computer systems. She helped encourage me to finish my degree and I finally did. It was a good era.
It was always nice to know that right across the room from me sat the one lady that would have my back no matter what. If a patron got loud with me or insulted me, she was right there to tell them what’s what and vice versa. And if someone complimented my customer service or reference skills, she was the first one taking credit for giving birth to me.
And if someone, inevitably, hated my mom’s people skills, and called her racist, I was right there claiming “She’s not a racist! She has black kids! She just hates stupid people!” This happened on MANY occasions.
Though it was MUCH harder to get away with playing hookie or being hungover at work with your Mom as a co-worker, it was worth it. We shared countless lunches, inside jokes, co-worker gossip, library board drama, crafts and more than a few hundred books during those years.
It was easy to take for granted always being able to give her a hug, or just know that she within shouting distance all those years. Every day I miss her being right across the room.
But moving away from her was worth it to have her grandkids. Cause to see her with her granddaughters is a sight.
She is instantly calm and at ease. She knows when Cedella’s not quite ready to talk or hug and she backs off. But when Cedella’s ready, well Grandma Linda melts right into silly Grandma voice and has all the things kids love: toys, crafts and books, SO many books.
She sings silly songs and makes silly faces and cracks Cedella up every time. And while she isn’t able to chase them down the beach she makes up for it by hours of puzzles and board games and tower building and yes…more crafts.
There are so many things my mother has raised me to be. Unlike all my siblings, I am the only one that has my Mom’s love of camping and being outdoors. Could have been the 10+ years she was my Girl Scout leader that did it.
But we all share our mother’s love of books. Reading is something my mother is constantly doing, and all of us are exactly the same (except maybe Ky who hasn’t quite found her love of books yet).
I believe that she has passed her tireless work ethic to me, because I would much rather work until the job is done right, even if it means not getting paid for all of my time, than leaving a job half-completed or half-assed, just like her.
And I know that in my heart she has given me a wide-open and explorer’s view of the world. My love of travel and adventure comes from her stories of traveling in Europe when she was younger. Hell, she bought us plane tickets to Italy for our wedding shower gift. And I definitely have a passion for research which probably from her curious librarian’s view of always questioning and trying to find answers.
Her willingness to love someone, regardless of race, at a time when it was not acceptable and barely legal in all 50 states, has always inspired me. Her ability to make the best out of nearly any situation and to keep her composure while all the rest of us fall apart is remarkable.
And just to prove her selflessness and want for each of her children to be the best they can be this is how she replied to my facebook status update about her birthday:
“Thanks for all the lovely thoughts, Ali – glad you are my daughter (not so glad about you becoming me though–be YOURSELF!) XOX”
I can’t say enough how absolutely proud and thankful I am that 70 years ago my mother was brought into this world. I hope she lives another 70 years cause I don’t know what I would do without her.
Thank you so much Mom for being so wonderful, for your inspiration, for your support, for your love and for all the laughter, hugs and kisses over the years!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!