Because my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser, was a school teacher most of her life, we have a stack of school photos–at least one for every year she taught. But today I want to honor her memory on Mother’s Day with a photo essay of her being a Mom.
Here’s mother and me in the back yard of a home in New Philadelphia, Ohio. And one when she took me on my very first road trip–to the Smokey Mountains (where I’ll be returning this June). And finally, Mother and me sitting under a tree in the side yard of Grandma and Grandpa Anderson’s house in Killbuck, Ohio.
Always a teacher, she taught me to read before I was five years old and enriched our lives with travel and new experiences. She sewed clothes, helped make Valentine cards and scrapbooks.
When my brother and sister came along, I had to share camera time. Our parents were proud of the first house they bought– in the Linden area of Columbus Ohio and when Paula was born,they took this cute picture in the backyard.
When I was in high school, Mother made me formals–and remade them several times. I was in Rainbow Girls which called for a formal gown once ever quarter and who could afford that? She always liked being creative, even when it meant long hours after her regular days work at teaching. I didn’t mind having made-over formals. I actually appreciated her frugal creativity–adding a ruffle or a stole to totally change the look of a gown. I probably never thanked her or congratulated her for her talent.
One of her greatest gifts to us was to keep alive our family history, telling us again and again the stories of our ancestors, and preserving their artifacts, photographs and documents so we would know about our tie to the past. Many of the stories I tell here are based on the family lore she passed on to me.
The biggest chore I gave her was preparing for my wedding which took place the day after I graduated from College. Of course at the end of her school year she also had tests to grade and reports to file. She handmade the bridesmaids’ and my headpieces, and crafted table decorations for the reception after the wedding, in addition to helping with invitation lists, keeping track of RSVPs and gifts, and all the myriad mother-of-the bride things. She must have been totally worn to a frazzle by the time we got to the wedding day and helped me into my borrowed wedding dress.
Of course she was thrilled when grandchildren came along. She was a long-distance grandmother to the first ones–our three sons– for most of their younger years because when our oldest was 18 months, we moved from Ohio to Arizona. Mother and Dad and Grandma Vera Anderson traveled with my brother and sister all the way from Columbus, Ohio to Scottsdale, Arizona so that they could see our second child, Mike.
Mother and dad came to Arizona every year when we were not traveling to Ohio, and they would take our three boys on road trips around the state, and spoil them for as long as they could before they had to return to Ohio. Eventually, they moved to Arizona and became a more regular part of the boys’ lives.
Next came four more grandsons as my brother and sister had children.
And then my grandchildren began arriving–and Mother was a Great-Grandmother.
Her first great-grandchild was my oldest son’s boy, who delighted us all. In 1989, she and Dad celebrated their 50th anniversary in Scottsdale, and we took the very young Kenneth Paul Badertscher II with us to the party. By 1999, she still delighted in her grandchildren when she saw them at our family Christmas party. She particularly liked them when they were teenagers. Long a high school teacher, she had a soft spot in her heart for adolescents.
After Paul came Bethany, and Great-grandma Kaser, who now had 7 grandsons and no female descendants since my sister and me, could not have been more thrilled. To even the odds a bit, our middle son also had a daughter, so Great-grandma now had TWO great-grand daughters to dote on in her last years.
After my father died, mother lived in a nursing home for several years. She enjoyed nothing more than visits from her grand and great-grandchildren, or to visit my home and get to chat with them.
She faithfully attended the weddings of her three grandsons, and danced with the groom. Her last social outing ever was in December 2001 when she went to the second wedding of our middle son, featured in the four-generation picture above. Harriette Anderson Kaser died in Tucson, Arizona in March 2003.