My mother was 20 years old when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Jewel had me 20 years later and growing up she liked to regale me with stories of her life and America during “The Great War.” My mother and my father were members of that group that Tom Brokaw likes to call, “The Greatest Generation.” It was a different war, I realize that now….it was not Vietnam or Iraq.
When my mother, Jewel, heard the radio reports and listened to FDR tell America, “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself,” she, like millions of other people, knew she would be of service to her country in some capacity.
The term “Rosie the Riveter” was first used in a song in 1942, but soon became part of American culture as millions of women stepped up and took over jobs, not normally held by women, when large numbers of men entered the military branches to fight in the war. Jewel started working for Tesco Corporation in Tarrant County, Texas and was one of the first women “meter readers” documented in the state.
That wasn’t enough for Jewel though and she soon joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp (WAAC) and traveled to freezing temperatures in Illinois for basic training. About 150,000 American women eventually served in the WAAC during World War II. Besides nurses, they were the first women allowed in the U.S. Army. My mother drove a supply truck for the duration of her service. I have blogged before that she met my father, a mess Sergeant, making a delivery one day. She would eventually give him seven “deliveries” with me being lucky number seven.
I sit in my office today thinking about all this because this Sunday is Mother’s Day. I got up this morning thinking about how I now really hate Mother’s Day and I need to change that around….hence this blog. I need to think about stuff like this and just how damn cool of a mother I had on this earth. I followed Jewel’s lead out of college into a service position, I was a police officer for eight years before going to law school. I like to think that if I was around in 1942, I would have joined the WAAC too. I like to think that Jewel and I had lots of similarities, all the while knowing that we were so completely different human beings.
This Sunday, I will raise a glass to Jewel and think of days gone by. I will silently thank her for service to family, community, and country. I will remember past Mother’s Days when she would be waiting for me and my siblings on her porch swing….knowing I would have some beautiful flowers or a plant for her gift. Who am I kidding? I think and honor her every single day of my life. I don’t need a stinking Hallmark card holiday to do so, do I Jewel? You are in my heart. You are the reason I serve my clients every day to the best of my ability. You are the person I want to be proud of me.
I would give anything to be sitting on that swing with you today Jewel. Sipping on a Fresca and listening to you talk about your garden or the neighbor’s “damn dog.” I miss you desperately.
What I would envision myself doing is giving you a big bear hug of thankfulness. Of course, I cannot do that any longer, so this blog will have to suffice.
Happy Mother’s Day, Jewel, I humbly thank you.
Julya – that is a beautiful tribute to your mother.
Thank you Jay
I’ve loved Jewel for as long as I’ve known you, JuJu. I was never fortunate to have met her but I feel certain she lives on through you. She is proud of you. You are too remarkable for her not to be.
During the Depression my grandmother, MaMa, had a job that required her to go to job sites and check work permits. The employees were almost all male and not one of them appreciated a woman asking them for their credentials. She was never afraid and never backed down from them. I loved hearing these stories and believe that I got much of my courage from her.
Happy Mother’s Day JuJu! And Happy Mother’s Day to Jewel and MaMa. They’ve helped make us the strong women we are today.
Thank you Kee.
Loved this Julya! Thanks for this sweet memory of your mama. It really touched my heart.
Very touching tribute to an obviously wonderful Mom.
I miss my sweet nana so much too! I love you NANA!
What a great mother; she sounds as awesome as mine was…
You made me cry…I don’t guess you ever get over missing them…ever.
What a lovely tribute! Our mother, too, was a child of the “Greatest Generation”. Even though she did not join the military, she worked to free up the males for the military. She was very young but certainly did her part. She was quite a woman and is still greatly missed.
I love this one. Something was in my eye when I read it.