Her husband died in 1965, leaving her with 4 boys to raise (from my husband who wasn’t yet even a year old to his oldest brothers who were both already in college). She had to learn to find an inner strength in the midst of what I imagine was tremendous grief. She had to learn to ask for help, which I imagine did not come easily to this fiercely independent woman. What she didn’t need to do was to find another man to complete her. She knew she was complete as she was, and nobody was going to tell her how to parent!
Ethel, I love you, and I honor you, and I am so very grateful for all that you did for us and for our boys. They love you with all their hearts and will never forget the special relationship you had. Thank you for being an integral part of our lives. Thank you for giving birth to Tom and raising him to be such an amazing man, husband, and father. Ethel, you done good! Are you kidding me!? You done great!! You are a hero.
On this day, which happens to also be Memorial Day, as we honor the heroes of this land, I include you. Against all odds, you raised 4 boys to be independent, strong, wise, loving, caring men who each was able to walk his own path, find his own way, and become who he was born to be.
But, that wasn’t enough for you, dear lady. Your heart was so big that you helped the lost ones in school – the kids who no one else was able to help or support; the kids that others thought were a problem. You showed up for them, loved them, and found a way to teach them. What’s more is they delighted you with their mischievous ways!!
That wasn’t enough. Your mission in this life was to help kids, and you wanted to do even more! So, at the youthful age of 60 you decided to become a foster mother. Wow! I know you saved some lives and families with your commitment to loving and supporting them through some tough, tough times. Thank you. I honor you.
Thank you for your service. Thank you for showing your boys what a strong, independent woman does! You amaze me, and thank you for unleashing my heart and soul to flourish. Witnessing you and learning from you has helped me to claim my strength and to find my way. You broke the mold you were told to live in, and have helped me to do the same!
Thank you for bringing your fierceness in alongside my mom’s softness and quiet strength. You have both shown me what it’s like to rise above the adversity of unexpected and deep loss and to find your way in uncharted territory, carving out your own way, living a life that was full and rich and fulfilling. Each one of you being you. In your way.
Yes, the men of our families went to war, and today they will be remembered and honored, and today I also remember and honor the women who carried on at home. The women who somehow tended to themselves and their families until they could break free to be who they were born to be. The women who climbed Bald Mountain in their 70’s!! Today I honor you women who showed me how to live and love deeply and fiercely. Women who showed me that you don’t curl up and die when the going gets tough, but you somehow find a way to keep on going and find the things that bring you joy!
Happy birthday, Ethel! I hope you and Betty have found one another and are having a great picnic party today!!