My mother, Rena May Battee, hadn't turned 19 when I was born, and the early memories I have of her were ones of a woman who was loving and gentle, but, also, no-nonsense. In a way, she was like an older sister. She and my Dad were young enough to still do things like sledding and roller skating, amusement parks, swimming and playing miniature golf. Mom was strong, too. Not just physically, but emotionally. She didn't fall apart in a crisis. She could do a man's work, if she had to, and that happened often when Dad came home from WWII. They bought a little house in Baltimore that took lots of "fixing up," as they used to say. She had to go to work to help support our growing family. My second sister was born after we moved in there, and Dad's earnings were not enough to feed, clothe and educate in a parochial school three kids.
Above all other attributes, Mom was loving. Her children knew she cared deeply about them and knew she would fight for them, if necessary. I remember one time a grouchy neighbor started hollering at us kids for getting a ball out of her yard by climbing the fence. When she came out of the yard wielding a broom, my mother, like a mama lion, came out and went nose-to-nose with her to straighten her out. She encouraged, nursed, worked to support ,protected and suffered for us.
The greatest blessing I could wish for every child would be that they should have a mother like mine. The jails would be empty and they would all grow to be responsible, caring people.