I've seen several different posts and comments on Facebook about mother's this Mother's Day weekend. They ranged from tributes to the perfect mom, discussions of moms who just did the best they could, and even some discussion of moms who should probably not have been moms.
Let me tell you about my Mom. She wasn't perfect by any means. But then who is? She was a strong woman with lots of love and a temper. She started her life as a Canadian and became a naturalized American citizen. She was stubborn and determined. My Dad was an American pilot who guided foreign ships through Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior. He was gone and had only five days a month off during the months the Great Lakes were not frozen over. Then he was home full-time December through March. Mom held the family reins during the rest of the year. It seemed to work well for them although I'm sure there was a period of adjustment whenever the reins were handed over. Mom angered easily; Dad had infinite patience and was slow to anger. They complimented each other. Dad was determined that my brothers and I would not miss out on anything just because he had to be gone most of the time in the summer. So he set things up but my Mom carried things out. We didn't miss out on much.
I don't have a great memory but I do remember our first trailer. It was red on the bottom half and silver on the top half. It was very rounded sort of like the TAB trailers you see now and fairly heavy for it's size. It had a bed at the back and a dinette at the front.....no bathroom. We lived in Duluth, Minnesota and Mom would hook the trailer up to the car and haul it and us out to Island Lake frequently on the weekends. There was a free campground with pit toilets.....there were no utilities but lots of other campers. There was a store and tavern across the road that would let you fill up containers with water from their outside faucet. The beach was somewhat gravelly but the water was crystal clear. Now Mom didn't swim; in fact, as hard as it was for us to believe, she was afraid of the water. So, of course, Dad made sure we all had swimming lessons and learned to swim early on. There certainly weren't any lifeguards at the beach. I can remember a terrific thunderstorm where we had pots all over the inside of the RV to catch the leaking water. Shortly after that, my Mom and another very independent neighbor lady recoated the roof of the trailer with some kind of a very thick coating. The neighbor's husband had been a roofing contractor before he died so she had the knowledge and Mom provided the material and half the labor. No more leaks.
Every summer we would head up to Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada to visit my grandpa and other relatives. My youngest brother was born when I was 15 and we still had that trailer when I got my driver's license so I did my share of the driving pulling that trailer that summer. There were long stretches of road to cover.
Dad thought we should also have the opportunity to have a boat. Now with Mom being afraid of the water, that was quite a trick. He convinced her that a pontoon boat was virtually impossible to sink because it had four separate air chambers. Pretty soon we had a pontoon boat and Dad found a place we could tie it up and leave it in a cove across the bridge from the campground. He found a small 10 HP motor that Mom and I could carry from the car trunk to the boat, attach it, and hook up the gas tank which we also had to carry. My brother Mike was two years younger than me but he helped when he got big enough. Then I would drive the boat across the lake to the beach while Mom pulled the trailer over.
My boys were about 3 and 8 when Dave and I got our first camper. By then, my Mom was on her second or third motorhome. Dad would travel with her and my brother Tim in the winter. Our camper was a pop-up. You can read about our first adventure here. My 13 year old brother came along on our first trip with the pop-up. We were enjoying hotdogs over a campfire when he made a comment about this being real camping. When I asked him what he meant, he said Mom never really camped because they didn't have campfires. I asked him how many of his friends got to travel around the country in an RV....he said a few had campers. Then I asked him how many of his friends mothers drove the camper across the country and took them places all by themselves. I think he got the point that his mother was very unique and he was very lucky. Mom was in her mid-fifties then. A few years later, Dad got glaucoma and had to retire. He and Mom still traveled with her doing all the driving. On one of their trips home from visiting us in Spokane, they had a fire in their motorhome. Mom got the motorhome off the road and got my Dad, my brother, the dog, and her purse out of the RV before she fell apart. The motorhome was nothing but rubble and ashes by then. A few months later, she found another motorhome. My Dad was 70 when he died and my Mom died several years later when she was only 67. But she lived a full life and was still planning trips when she passed away suddenly.
So.....thanks for setting that strong independent woman example for me Mom. I came prepared to handle things on my own before I ever became a military wife and had to do it. My husband was able to go TDY or deploy without worrying about leaving a basket case wife behind. I ran the house and took the kids camping and boating. Of course, he has to deal with a woman with a mind of her own too but I think it's a fair trade off. And I hope my boys have the same good memories of those times as I do.
And thanks especially for passing along your love of RVs and traveling Mom. We've had travel trailers, Class Cs, a Class A, and 5th wheels since then. I've driven or towed them all. So thanks for the knowledge that I too can handle it all by myself. I miss you Mom. Happy Mother's Day.