Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day Mom, I Miss You!

This is my Mom Jean Jennison Jenkins. She's been gone since 1999 and not a day goes by that I don't think about her. She was a great mother, and the world's best grandmother. Asthma robbed her of a long life. She was raised in a desperately poor but amazingly happy Iowa farm family during the Great Depression. In their tiny farmhouse she shared a small bed with two sisters. The house had no indoor plumbing, electricity, or heat but kept 7 children sheltered. She was educated for many years in a one-room rural school and graduated high school as valedictorian. Her siblings are all generous, educated, and cheerful and just the best bunch of aunts and uncles I could have asked for.

My Mom was a genius - really! She had an IQ of about 140 and read like a demon. After two years at Iowa Teacher's College (now known as the University of Northern Iowa), she taught 5th grade in Jefferson, Iowa. After meeting Dad in Ames, they launched fast forward into parenting. Dad said they planned on six boys, but instead got one boy and three loud, mouthy girls.

While actively raising us, she also volunteered for nearly EVERYTHING including tracking down and remodeling a house in Burr Oak, Iowa that had been a hotel owned by the Ingalls family - yes the Ingalls of Little House in the Big Woods fame. The short chapter of their lives in Burr Oak was dropped from the book series. The Laura Ingalls museum remains open for business for interested tourists.

Mom loved to be outdoors and housework just bored her stiff. She lived for fishing, hiking, mushroom hunting, gardening, golfing, picnicing, you name it. Our parents were always packing up the '67 Dodge station wagon and taking us to area parks for all-day picnics. They also hauled all four of us, and the dog, up to Lake Kabetogama near International Falls, MN every June for the annual fishing marathon. They drove us to California and a few trips to the Rocky Mtns in that old car without air conditioning and only an AM radio.

Although she hated housework, she and Dad literally put together our house in 1970. They ripped down a barn, and built a four bedroom house in it's place. Together they did a great deal of the physical labor. After moving in, she spent the next nearly 30 years shaping up a yard that started as a stock pen.

My Mom was the perfect optimist. She was always looking on the bright side, and never meant to cause anyone even on ounce of trouble. She delivered Meals on Wheels, ran Girl Scout troops, made krumkake by the thousands for the local Nordic Fest, drove old folks up to Rochester for appointments at the Mayo Clinic.

I miss her spirit, and I miss her influence on my kids. She deserved to watch me suffering the verbal blows of teenage girls!! She was gone too soon.

I love you Mom.


janban said...

What a wonderful tribute to your mother! I remember her well and I think you girls turned out so much like her.
Mother's Day takes on such a different meaning when our moms are gone, doesn't it? It is very hard for me to "celebrate" it but I do it for my children.
Have a great day!!

Christopher Tassava said...

What a beautiful, heartbreaking tribute to a wonderful woman.

michaelg said...

A great tribute to Jean. I'll always remember her coaxing me in to the house when I was about 5 to show me how Winnie could play the piano and tell me how the roads to Harmony were (ruff) and what was on top of the house (roof).
I spent a good part of the day remember my mom too. I miss her a lot every day.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

Great post.

Cheesecake Maven said...

Thanks for such a beautiful tribute to our beautiful mom!!!! I miss her so much, it never ends. Mother's Day always brings mixed emotions now; happy to be one for my kids, but damn I wish our own were here to watch those same kids grow! She was great, a good example to all of us how to truly LIVE, EVERYDAY. I went 'shrooming the other day and got skunked. The whole time I was out I kept saying, 'come on Mom, send me a sign, where are they?!' No luck, but what a gorgeous walk in the woods, I feel close to both of them whenever I'm out there.

Missy said...

Oh how wonderful, what an inspiring woman!

My Dad makes the krumkake in our family, but I got an iron for my wedding...I am so afraid to screw them up!

Scott J. said...

I don't have many memories of your mother but I remember that she was a tireless Band Booster, and that's a pretty good thing, as far as I'm concerned.

A very nice tribute.

evleky said...

I am going to copy this and give it to my mom. She had so much respect and admiration for her, and she loved your mom's idea of banana splits after card club.