Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Gratitude for My Parents

I realize that tomorrow is Thanksgiving but as I mentioned in the post I did a couple of days ago about my sisters, my mom's birthday was November 26th. In honor of her birthday today, I wanted to express my gratitude for my parents. They may have lived only a short time, but they had a great impact on my life. Along with them, I can't forget the two people who raised me after they died--Helen and Les.

First let me tell you a little about my dad: He was a plumber by profession. We lived on the East side of the SF Bay and my dad worked in San Francisco. He loved all kinds of sports--we watched wrestling, boxing, and baseball. (It's funny but I don't remember him watching football or basketball ; ) I often think of what it must have been like for my dad living in a home with NOTHING BUT GIRLS!!! He had two brothers and no sisters. He was born in the Boston area--I could kick myself today because I really don't know much about his growing up years. I don't even know what year he came to California. I was the son he never had--I loved reading the sports section and telling him who won and what was happening. I will always remember going with him to Candlestick Park to see the S.F. Giants play the Milwaukee Braves. (Those were the years the Giants had Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, and Orlando Cepeda. They had a pretty good team) It must have been just a short time before my dad died.

One of the things that is interesting about doing family history is the things you find out--I never knew my parents were never legally married. They were common law husband and wife.

My mother was a California native--she had 8 brothers and 2 sisters. Her mom died when she was fairly young. She grew up in San Francisco. She was tall and very slender. She was a waitress and worked very hard. I don't know how she did it after my dad died in May of 1963, but she persevered. I sit and cry when I think about how lonely she must have been, and I never remember her sitting around feeling sorry for herself. I will always be grateful for the Salvation Army for providing us with some treats that Christmas. (I can't pass by a bell ringer without stopping and making a donation. Somewhere there is a little girl (like me) whose life will be blessed by what they do) When she was hospitalized with tuberculosis, we were not allowed to go and see her in the hospital, but we could go and stand outside and she would go to the window or balcony and wave at us. That's my last memory of her. (In the picture, she is the one on the right)

Every so often we would visit my mom's sibblings. I can remember one brother in particular. I was pretty close to him--mainly because we shared the same birthday. In fact, when my mother died in 1964 he was one who came forward to "adopt" me--but he and his wife could only take one of us. I think many of them would take one, but no one would take all of us. I don't know who made the decision to keep us all together, but I'm very grateful they did.

I always feel very bad when I think about the short lives they lived--they had so much more living to do. Perhaps that's why being a mom and grandma are so important to me--and every holiday I get to be with my kids or have them call and I can talk to them is such a blessing.

In December of 1964, after my mom died, we continued to live with my sister, Carol's, boyfriend's family. A woman that my mom had worked with, named Helen, heard about what had happened and she and her husband wanted to do something to help. They had us over and visited with us a few times and decided that they wanted to take in all 6 of us. (Can you imagine raising 6 girls--age 19 down to 9???) They had already raised 2 boys. We moved in with them and they were officially made our legal guardians on February 14, 1965--we celebrated that anniversary together every year!!!

They were there for us during those critical teenage years. They were amazing--always encouraging us in all of our activities. As we grew up and had children, they were Grandma and Grandpa and helped us with everything. It wasn't like--Oh, you're 18--you're on your own. Helen died in 1979. Les continued to be very active in our lives. Allan, the kids, and I have some great memories with Les with us on a couple of vacations. When he and Helen died it was very much like losing parents.

They made every holiday, every activity fun. Les added on to the house and it was so fun to help him while he was doing the remodeling. He was a great handyman. You gotta love this picture with my sisters, Les, and I (and Gayle's boyfriend) Notice the hairpieces--I don't know if ANY OF THEM MATCHED!!!)

To my sister Linda they were the only parents she really knew. Obviously to my kids, they are grandma and grandpa. I marvel that they were so loving and caring and willing to do something I don't think many people would do. They made us all feel loved and they are both missed.

Not many people have been blessed with two sets of parents--I was and I will always be grateful for all of them.

Sidenote: I hope EVERYONE has a fabulous Thanksgiving. Not sure when I will get my Gratitude Post done for tomorrow. Because tomorrow is transfer day, we are celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday. Tomorrow I will be busy getting everything ready for my 43 dinner guests ; ) (Just think, if we had turkey dinner tomorrow, I could serve LEFTOVERS on Friday!!!)

Just so you understand why I cry every time I read about someone getting a free turkey when they buy $25 worth of groceries. Here's what it cost for one of our turkeys for Friday ; )


[Somebody Loved] said...

I had other things to say first... then I saw the cost on your turkey and it made me sad... then mad... why??? That seems crazy. But when we were in Canada I remember that fresh produce was like gold.

I guess I am definitely not taking my 20 pound $8 turkey for granted. [It would have been $25.08 but since we had a $25 purchase... it was only $8.]

I just loved all of your photos. I remember seeing some old ones of my Mother like that.

I also loved your family history. That is a real life miracle keeping you all together. I have chills just thinking about what a decision that was for Helen & Les. I am almost speechless... but not since I am rambling... trying to find the words.



Jess said...

I guess we have to just be grateful that we can afford to buy the turkey. I loved learning about your parents. They sound like awesome people. Have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow!!!
I have loved reading all of your gratitude posts. What an awesome idea!!

Tonya said...

What a wonderful and touching post. You were blessed to have 2 sets of parents that loved you so very much. Not many people could do what your adoptive parents did.

The pictures are great. I love the one of your mom. You look very much like her.

I almost choked when I saw how much you paid for a turkey. Why is it so much? I won't take one bite of mine for granted tomorrow. I promise. Have Happy Thanksgiving!!

PJ said...

Does your turkey have gold flakes in it?!? wow.

You've really had quite a life. I can't imagine taking on 6 children. There really are angels among us.

Crazy Mom of Four said...

ok i first thought that was your safeway receipt and I thought wow not bad for 43 dinner guest then realized it was the turkey sticker and all i can say is HOLY COW! or should I say HOly Turkey???

Nice tribute to your parents. (all of them)

Holly said...

Your Gratitude week has been wonderful to follow.

Have a terrific Thanksgiving.

Chelli said...

You resemble your mother. I guessed who she was in the picture before you told us. She was beautiful.
That is a very uplifting story. It's very special people who will take in that many children and love them and give them a good life.

Enjoy eating that turkey!!

carolyne b said...

Yvonne that was a beautiful post about your parents; bio and other. We never know how long or short our lives will be or the effect we have on others, even our children. I am so glad that you have fond memories of your mom and dad. I can only imagine as a young girl, you and your sisters wondered what was going to become of you when both your mom and dad pasted away. Aren't you glad to have the Gospel and know that Families Are Forever!!!
Wow, for that price I'd be growing a Turkey farm.

Klin said...

I'm grateful for cheap turkeys!

22 lbs. for $20 minus the $1 coupon and $12 in turkey vouchers I had I got away with paying $7. I am blessed.

I loved this post. We are certifying for Foster parents and it's the kids that make me do it. I can't stand that they have no one. Helen and Les are great people. You took the best from both sets of parents.

Love you.

Nancy Face said...

This was so very special and touching. I'm so glad you shared your memories and thoughts about both sets of your parents. :)

chellie said...

I've never seen a turkey cost so much! oh goodness! I am sorry. I guess I won't tell you that we got ours for free with a $100 grocery purchase. I don't want to make you feel bad... ;-) I hope it was like 50 lbs or something. :)