A Mother’s Day Story About a “Can-Do” Attitude

What I most admired about my Mom, nicknamed Stella, was her “can-do” attitude. She always said, “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” And that attitude shot through every part of her life. Mom was born in 1906. At the age of 8 years, she immigrated with her Mother and 3 sister siblings from Czechoslovakia. Her fondest memory of early childhood was coming to America and viewing the Statue of Liberty in Ellis Island. Mom prided herself on enculturating into the American Dream by learning English fluently in one year. She always said, “It didn’t take me long to learn English.” She started working at Swift Packing House when she was 15 and then worked as an operator at Bell Telephone Company for 36 years. Of those 36 years, she had 18 years of perfect attendance. Being sick was never an option when it came to her work at Ma Bell.

Mom would multitask because that is what she had to do on her days off from work. She would start the dough for kolaches, put a load of clothes in the wash and through the ringer, hang them on the line outside, come inside and start the kolaches bake. In between these tasks she was preparing our Saturday lunch.

Mom taught all of her children to dance and sing. Sunday morning after Mass was the “Big Joe Polka Music” on the radio. The highlight of our week was to learn to dance the polkas, waltzes and the “roaring 20’s” Charleston and Big Apple.

Although singing at the table is not allowed in some families, in our family that is where Mom taught us to sing her favorite Czech songs and Old Time Big Band Songs. After we ate, of course!

Mom was a seamstress and not only sewed all of her clothes but her children’s clothes as well. She would make all of us look alike for our Family Band Photo. She croqueted items for the Parish Festival. supported the clothes and food drive for the Missions and made Baptismal Stoles for the babies baptized at Assumption Church.

Mom helped those in need in our neighborhood and parish. Even the stray neighborhood dogs and cats benefitted from her kindness.

Mom retired from the Bell Telephone Company when she was 65 years of age. Her motto at that age was, “Stay Active.” Mom always wanted to learn to swim so with a “you can do anything you set your mind to do” attitude Mom learned to swim at the YMCA Senior Swimming. She drove herself to swimming twice a week until she was 88. When she was 85 she won the Healthiest Senior of the Midlands Award.

Mom was a faith-filled woman who loved the rosary, Mass and Marian devotions and instilled this faith in her children. She lived a vibrant life until she was 97 years old. Thanks, Mom, from your family and from all those whose lives you touched.

Happy Mother’s Day!