Monday, May 12, 2014

Tribute to Mom

Greetings all.  Yesterday was Mother's Day and, for me, a very special day--one of great gratitude.  Last year I almost lost my mother.  She had an internal bleed that almost ended her life.  Today she is stronger and happier than she has been in several years and I get to have more time with this very special woman.

I want to tell you a little bit about mom.  She was born in Germany in 1934.  Her mother was an Irish citizen who met mom's father in the US where they were both working in the hospitality industry.  They were married and went to Cork, Ireland to see my mother's family before proceeding on to Bielefeld, Germany where my grandfather was raised.

Mom grew up in Bielefeld during the war.  Because my grandmother was an Irish citizen she was periodically arrested and interrogated by the Gestapo.  Mom has shared with me stories about walking down the road and pulling her sister in a ditch to dodge allied strafing.  The town in which she was raised was largely destroyed by bombing and she spent some time out of the city to avoid the bombs.

Mom's father was drafted into the German Army and was captured and sent to a camp in Siberia where he died.  After the war my grandmother took mom and her sister to Cork where they spent two years awaiting sponsorship to come back to the US.  Mom once told me she had the strangest accent.  Mom learned English in Ireland and initially spoke English with a German Irish brogue.

My grandmother suffered from mental illness and alcoholism and Mom found herself on her own not long after getting to the US.  With all of this turmoil and change, Mom managed to graduate from high school at age 15!  She met my father and married at age 18.  Dad was 36.

We were raised in Maryland.  When I was 8 Dad was diagnosed with stomach cancer.  He was able to fight it for five years but it got to the point where we knew he could not survive.  Mom went back to school, knowing that she would have to support her three children.  She got a degree in dental hygiene from Howard University and then went on to get both a Masters and PhD on a full ride from Johns Hopkins.  She was an epidemiologist, with her last job running research studies in AIDS and breast cancer for the Army.  Mom was also a CDR in the Public Health Service.

Mom is the person that is always there for me.  She has been my ceaseless cheer leader in growing my business and has always been my inspiration.  And, like all mothers and daughters, we have had our challenges and conflicts but, despite it all, I could not be more grateful to have this incredible woman in my life.

So, in the shadow of this Mother's Day, I encourage you to think about your own mother.  What was she like in her best times?  How did she help shape the person you are now?  What kind of frustrations did she insert into your life that pushed you to go that extra step to rise above?  What are the many blessings she presented to you?

Mom turns 80 later this year.  I truly never thought we'd see this year together but I'm very excited to help her bring in this next decade of her life.

Mom wants to write her story--it is an incredible one.  I'm excited to be a part of the telling!  Hopefully you'll see a book with her name on the cover within the next year or so.

Have a wonderful week and many blessing to our moms everywhere!

Laura Barish