February 15, 1919 was a grand day. Like many marvelous events it started fairly small...in a tiny town, in a humble home, with a new baby. Her Grandmother delivered her into the world in her parent's bedroom.
Sarah was the first child born in her
family. There was a bit of disappointment. Her Father was a sheep
rancher. His occupation was incredibly intense. He hoped for a son to
help carry the load. America was still very narrow in their view of
what women should do. Working on a sheep ranch was NOT in that
Her eyes loomed large and
lustrous in her tiny baby face. Her Mother held her close and served up
her first meal. This closeness to her Mother lasted for ninety-one
years. I don't suppose that it is surprising that this maternal bond
would carry forward into Sarah's children and family.
going to jump forward now, another 40 years or so. Sarah was married
and had three children. She had lost a full-term son along her life's
path. His earthly remains were tucked away in a cemetery in the town
where her husband had earned his collegiate degrees. She had lost three
other babes when they had been mere possibilities. Disappointed, she
and her sweetheart kept their faces towards the future, the goals and
dreams that lay for them there.
I remember my Mom
telling me many, many times over the years, "You don't have to give
birth to be a Mother. She lived those words actively. First she
"fostered," many children unofficially. Children with parents in
crisis. Friends of her own children, children that she knew about from
her activity in her church group.
Next came the
"official," foster children. She heard at church about a program to
bring Native American children from the reservation where the schools
were seriously lacking, to live with a family that could offer them
better educational opportunities. This was a long time before being
"politically correct," was important. She did not try to erase their
Native American heritage. Sarah did her best to help them understand
the traditions of their heritage. Four girls were brought into her
home. She did her best to stay connected through the years. One of the
girls continued communicating by letter until Mama passed away at 95.
there were the three state welfare children. A darling 2 year old
daughter, a 6 year old son, and the oldest, another boy was 8. Imagine
the sorrow of hearing a 2 year old say matter-of-factly, "My Mama is in
prison." Gratefully she did not understand that her Mother was
imprisoned for prostitution and petty theft.
three brought joy and torment into Sarah's family. They were adorable
children. She told the rest of our family through laughter about the time that the youngest
said to her husband, "Dad, when you go to the store we need bum wipers,
we're all out." Her extremely refined husband almost choked on his
Sarah and Wendell were in their late forties. After caring for these three for two years they applied to adopt them. They were informed that they were too old to be adopting these young children. In addition, the state refused to take away the Mother's rights. That same Mother who had abandoned them for a day here, a week there. The way they were discovered being all alone? Leslie, an eight year old at the time, was shoplifting at a grocery store to get food for his siblings.
After the bid to adopt the three State Services decided it was time to move them. So my two brothers, and my little sister, were pulled away to a home where the woman had already given birth to seven children. That did not last long. She came unglued, physically and mentally, and again the children were uprooted and dropped into a different home.
That was the last time that Sarah fostered "official" children from State Welfare. It was too heart breaking to see the children pay over, and over, and over again, for the sins of the parents.
Did she stop fostering? Not even a little bit. She just loved dear ones who had Mother's far away, or whose Mother had died. Of course, her nurturing and loving spirit just found other ways to nurture and love. She was the first person her friends and acquaintances called in emergencies, or to share joy and success.
I love my Mama, forever and always. I have been truly blessed with a wonderful Mother. I'm grateful for her unselfish example of love and caring.