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  • Writer's pictureKaren Herbert

5 Favorite Memories of My Mother for Her 90th Birthday

My mother would have turned 90 years old this weekend.

Carol Jean Peterman was born in 1934 in the middle of the Great Depression. She was the oldest of five children and married my father when she was 24 years old. I came along soon after, also the oldest of five. She died in November 1998, aged 64.

(family archive photos of Carol Jean as a young girl)

Unsung Hero

When I was growing up, my mother was our family's unsung hero. With five kids, days were filled with cooking, cleaning, and laundry. I remember so much laundry! Mom was there for all the games, all the Scout meetings. Years after she was gone, I found one of her evening bags. Inside was a handwritten list of the my dad's sales contacts and their wives. Just so she cold help Dad remember who was who and make a good impression.

One memory stands out. When I was in 6th grade, she supported me when I was being bullied at school. She went with me to talk with Sister Genevieve, the school counselor, and I don't think she ever told anyone about my troubles.

Talented Family Cook

My mom was a great cook - family lore attributes her skill to lessons from my dad's mother, but she found other ways to learn. Like these "secret family recipes" from a Hunt's Tomato Sauce booklet. Used for years, they are preserved in an album now. Most Saturdays, the spaghetti sauce simmered all day and our house smelled better than any Italian restaurant. Those meatballs - she would make me 3 or 4 dozen whenever I entertained.

Other culinary skills I did not inherit were how to cook with an electric skillet, and how to make the creamiest, fudgiest chocolate frosting for brownies.

(family archive photos of well worn recipes and a mid-1960s birthday celebration.

That's me with the long dark hair!)

Mother of the Bride

I was fortunate my mother was able to be involved in my wedding in the late 1980s. She helped me choose my dress and complete all those other bridal tasks. I had moved home before the wedding, and a few nights before I remember my mother trying to calm me down during a panicky moment. There may have been tears, but we ended up laughing about it later. Still makes me smile when I recall that time.

Candid wedding day photo with the beautiful Mother of the Bride. (family photo archive 1989)

Still Mothering Me

My mother was able to stay with me a few days when I brought my newborns home. What a privilege for me to have my own mother to mother me! She cooked, changed diapers, and brought the babies to me while I rested. I'll never forget these special times. After my kids were born, I called her every day for advice and companionship.

My mom helping after my second's birth in 1996. (family photo archive)

Model for a Day

I thought my mother was beautiful and glamorous; every morning she put on "her face" before she left the house. She wore snap-down house dresses, with pockets. (Would those be too old-fashioned for me to wear now? I wonder) In 1990, she was a fashion model at her Ladies' Club Annual Luncheon. I was proud to be present to see how she glowed, ever beautiful to me.

Carol, smiling as she passed our table, model for a day. (family photo archive 1990)

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