My mother and I had a great relationship from the time I can remember.
I thought she was the most beautiful and the smartest woman I had ever
known. Her beauty was not just external but her heart and soul was so
warm and giving. Anyone who knew my mother, came in contact with a
loving compassionate person who would do whatever she could to make
them feel at home and secure about themselves.
I can remember back to when I was only a little kid, perhaps about two or so
when I knew she was going to have a baby and I was going to have a sibling.
In those days there were no ways to detect the sex of the child you were
carrying. I don't think my mother cared. She had told me when I was just
old enough to understand that she wanted a girl first, and there I was. The
oldest born to her and her hearts desire. I am sure my father wanted a son
and I am sure while we were awaiting this new arrival he was hoping for just
that. I knew from my mother that I would never lose my place in line in her
heart. I learned later that no matter how many children you have, you find
enough room in your heart to love each one.
My brother was born on September 21, 1928, just shy of two years after
my birth. I was downstairs in our home while my mother was upstairs with
my grandmother and a midwife. My father was waiting with me. Men didn't
watch births back then. It was a private affair for a woman and whoever was
assisting her. I heard the baby cry when he was born and someone called
down the stairs and told my father it was a boy, and I yelled “that's my buddy”.
I could not say brother yet. He carried that name Bud or Buddy all of his
life. His real name was after my father Richard Clifton, Jr. Quite a bit to put
on an infant. My mother was proud to give my father a son, and now we were
a complete family, boy and girl. Or Girl and boy. My mother was very much
in love with my father. I never recall ever a cross word between them. My
father was an architect and builder by trade and he worked very hard. When
we had our little family, my father had a car. A model T Ford. We were grand
when we went riding on a Sunday just for fun. We visited my mother's
parents who lived about eight miles away. She came from a family of ten,
five brother and four sisters. They were a close knit family and I remember
where she lived when she grew up. It was called “Battle Row”. It was
right on the Hudson River in Verplancks Point, New York. The house she
lived in and was born in, was a big house, all brick and on a narrow dirt
road and if you went down a little slope across that road, you were at
the rivers edge. I loved going there. There were so many rooms because
there were so many children. Not all of them were still living there when
I got to go there because some of them had already married and had children
of their own. My mother was fourth oldest in the family. It was funny
back then because every one was so close in relationship with each other.
We visited them and they visited us. I had a few cousins by time I was
born. I can remember some of them, but not really well. I do remember
my aunts and uncles from back then. It was always fun visiting as there
was one of my uncles who played the piano and another the accordion and
another played the banjo. There was always music and always food.
Sometimes freshly caught crab right from the river, there were always crab
cages set out and when anyone wanted a feast they were pulled out and
a big pot of boiling water sat on the stove and newspapers put on the table
to take care of the shells, and butter, real butter to dip them in. I loved
those feasts. My mother had a wonderful relationship with her mother too.
I remember my grandmother as being a very stately woman, with salt
and pepper hair, pulled back in a bun and always very dressed up when
ever I saw her. I never saw her any other way. My mother always looked
wonderful too. I think mothers' and daughters take this from one another.
My mother's father was something else yet again. His name was Will, at
least that is all I ever heard him called. I am sure it was short for William.
He was a tall scraggly man, with short cropped silver hair and a silver
mustache. He had a lined face but was innately handsome. He was a
hard working man who fished for a living. My grandmother though was
the Matriarch of the family.
On these visits to my mother's family, my paternal grandmother who lived
with us, always went along. I never thought a lot about it then, but when
I hear about in-laws not getting along now, I think about that and realize
how fortunate my mother and my whole family was.
My mother gave birth to another son in 1930. He was also born upstairs
with a midwife present. He weighed in at 11 pounds. When I think about
that now, after having had children my self, I can't believe she did that
with no anesthesia or anything. My new brother was named Lawrence, with
no middle name. He was called Larry.
During 1929, the depression had hit the country and it hit our family hard.
My father had a partner in business who somehow cheated my father and
absconded with all the funds of the business. My father still worked as hard
as he could with his brother, also a builder, to keep our family going, but
the loss of his wealth, took a serious toll on his nerves and he ended up
having a serious nervous breakdown. He stayed at home for awhile, until
my brother Larry was six months old and then his doctor decided he should
go to a sanitarium for his nerves as he was becoming really ill. We went
to visit him a few times, but he wasn't there that long as he contracted
spinal meningitis which took away a lot of his motor functions and his
speech. He was sent to a Veterans Hospital. I was five, My mother was
twenty-five with two other children, 2 and a half and six months old.
She was left with her mother-in-law to raise us on her own. She didn't
know it then, but he would never come home.
My beautiful, wonderful mother, so in love with my father was devastated
but she took on the responsibility of raising her family . My mother became
both parents. she took over the role my father would have taken had he
been with us. I honor her here on Father's Day. Some mother's deserve
so much more credit than they actually get, when they fill both shoes.
Happy Parents Day to Them, I create this day if there isn't one already.