Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day Memory Jar for Mother

A fellow genealogy blogger, Jeanne Bryan Insalaco, recently blogged about a Memory Jar that she made for her mother. With Mother’s Day coming up, it seems like a particularly timely idea. Jeanne wrote down her memories of their past and put the individual slips of paper in a jar. She meant for her mother  to read one per day–but of course her mother couldn’t wait and read all of them right away.

My mother would have done the same thing. Unfortunately, she is no longer here to share these memories.  Thanks goodness we had opportunities for long talks when she was in her last decade. Here are a few of the things I remember about my mother, Harriette Anderson Kaser. I have organized them by different places that we lived.

Ames Iowa

My earliest memories for the memory jar come from when I was nearly three years old in New Philadelphia, Ohio, but other than stories mother told me, I don’t have any specific memories of mother in New Philly.

I do remember the little house in Ames, Iowa where we lived for a short time during World War II. I was a few months short of four years old. Mother was teaching me to read.  She probably needed to do some teaching, because she had set aside her teaching career to follow Daddy to Iowa for his job, and she was VERY bored.

I remember the thrill of recognition of squiggly lines become letters and words and stories about Dick and Jane and Sally.

Franklin Avenue, Columbus Ohio

I remember when mother got her first hearing aid.  We were living in a two-story brick house that in its grander days in the early 20th century had served as the home of managers of a beer company.

She knew the hearing aid was inevitable.  She had inherited a hearing problem from her father, Daddy Guy, who wore a hearing aid. His was a big clumsy thing (I was going to say the size of an early transistor radio, but some of my readers would not relate to that) with a visible wire to his ear. Mother’s Beltone was smaller than a pack of cigarettes and she wore it clipped to her bra and hid the wire in the bun on the back of her head. Much later she had the in-ear type, which is what I now have.

In the same house, when I was about nine years old,  I learned that a third child would join my brother and me.  My parents cheerfully announced the expected new arrival, but I had overheard their earlier conversations, so it was not a surprise. Not only that, but I did not greet the news with the enthusiasm they wanted. Not because I didn’t want another baby in the house, but because mother was 42 and I had heard their conversations worrying about the dangers of pregnancy at an advanced age. The memory jar reminds me that worry goes both ways between mother and child.

Loretta Avenue, Columbus Ohio

Next my memory jar turns to the late 1940s. I remember soft summer nights with my mother sitting with her friend Leona Culshaw on the back steps of our house, overlooking the lawn and gardens my dad had planted. Kids ran up and down the streets or alleys until it got too dark to see. Fireflies blinked, garlic smells drifted from the kitchen of the Italian house next door. It would have been idyllic, except to me as a vulnerable pre-teen, their conversations about cancerous ovaries and failing hearts and other icky things made me nauseous.

Again, mother had taken a leave from her teaching career, and filled her time with doing crafty things, which she loved. For PTA (as a parent rather than a teacher) at Linden Elementary School, she took charge of the organization’s scrapbook.  During later years, she made creative centerpieces for ladies’ luncheons at church or at her golf club. And when I married, she created the headpieces worn by my bridesmaids and put her creative touch to other parts of the wedding.

Killbuck, Ohio

We had lived in Killbuck off and on before, but our longest stint took place in a hundred-year-old house on the Schoolhouse Hill.  I attended eighth grade through high school there, so of course the memory jar is packed with memories–but being a teen at the time, the memories are pretty self-centered.

Mother sewed, despite her full-time teaching jobs, a succession of formals for me.  I belonged to Rainbow Girls (a girl’s auxiliary to the Masonic Lodge) and needed to wear a formal every four months.  Of course it would be out of the question to wear the same dress twice!  Like a wizard, mother would take off a ruffle here, add an overskirt or shawl-like top there and give new life to an old dress.  I loved her creativity and all my “new” dresses.

Hilliard Ohio

The family moved to Hilliard, a suburb of Columbus, in the summer of 1956 to relieve Daddy of the commute to Columbus and to be closer to Ohio State University, which I would attend that fall.  Mother immediately got a job teaching at Hilliard High School and the family stayed put long enough for my brother and sister both to graduate from Hilliard.

Mother’s history of loving word games predates the move to Hilliard, but I relate her love of Scrabble to that time.  She was a formidable opponent, because she would make up words and who could argue with an English teacher?  If you dared say the word did not appear in the dictionary, she would scoff that dictionary was no good.

After she retired from teaching, she started every day with the Word Scramble found on the comic page of the newspaper, while Daddy did the crossword puzzle.

Tucson Arizona–the Final Years

After retirement, Daddy and Mother moved to Scottsdale Arizona, following her migrating children west. There they played golf and enjoyed apartment living.  When their health began to fail, they joined Ken and me in Tucson living first in an independent living apartment, and after Daddy died, mother lived in a nursing home.

The transition was made easier for her by her love of poetry.  She had to have a bookshelf of poetry books beside her bed, and took joy in letters from old students about how she had planted a love of poetry in them.

Like all aging people, she liked to reminisce, and we went through her old picture albums and she told me stories.  How she loved cars! One day she told me about every car she had owned, starting when she was twenty-one years old.  She had to have new ones every couple of years, and in her nineties, she remembered every one.

Her other love encompassed all of nature.  “The world is so beautiful,” she would say as we took short road trips to a nearby national park, or looked up to the mountains surrounding Tucson, or drove along roads rimmed with wildflowers.

I suppose that is the most important memory I have of my mother to put in the memory jar would include–her enthusiasm for the world, for people–particularly teenagers, and the way she threw herself into her activities with enthusiasm.

52 Ancestors: #18 A Mother’s Day photo Album of Harriette Anderson Kaser

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.

Harriette Kaser

Harriette Kaser and Paula Kaser in the backyard of our house in Columbus Ohio, 1944.

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.

Harriette and Vera Marie Kaser

Vera Marie Kaser and Harriette Kaser before wedding June 11 1960

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.

Great Grandma Vera Anderson, Grandma Harriette Kaser, Mother Vera Marie Badertscher, Michael Alan Badertscher

Four Generations:Great Grandma Vera Anderson, Grandma Harriette Kaser, Mother Vera Marie Badertscher, Michael Alan Badertscher 1964, Scottsdale, AZ.

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.

Happy Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day

Mother and me

Mother and me, New Philadelphia, Ohio, 1940 at home of friends.

A website I write for challenged its writers to submit a 25-words-or-less essay about Mother.  Here’s mine.

Mother is gone. But she left behind the stories of all the mothers who shaped us…to read, to question, to explore. Our stories.

Read more and share your own thoughts at Your Life Is a Trip.