Mother’s Day means something different to everyone.
For some, it’s a day to honor mom (or be honored). For others, the day can bring back bittersweet memories.
Earlier this month The Chronicle asked residents what their fondest memories of their mother are. Here are some of the responses.
Tonasket resident Sherry Potter says she remembers Aug. 31, 1965. It was at Cow Palace in San Francisco, Calif., where she and her mom attended a Beatles concert.
“My fondest memory of my mom was us standing together screaming our heads off – me for Paul, her for John – at a Beatles concert she bought us tickets to when I was nine,” Potter said. “Neither one of us had a voice left for three days.”
“The poor band that opened for them sure didn’t get any respect,” Potter recalled. “It was a total wall of screaming like you can’t even imagine.”
She said when the Beatles hit the stage it was “total mayhem.”
“Girls were faking fainting next to the stage and cops were bringing them across the stage to deal with the girls. As soon as they passed a Beatle, they would come alive and grab one,” she said. “When we got home my dad was so relieved because the local news portrayed it like it was out of control.”
For Havillah resident Kathleen Duchow, her mother sewing matching dresses is a favorite memory.
“I have so many memories, but the first that popped into my mind was Mom sewing matching dresses for us,” she said. “I felt so pretty looking like mom. She taught me to cook and sew, and together, we sewed my wedding dress 52 years ago. And, because of her guidance, I was able to manage my own home when I was married at age 18.”
Teresa Good, Okanogan, said a simple note from her mother still chokes her up.
“At a youth retreat feeling lonely and homesick…we each were given letters during a self-reflecting quiet time,” she said. “Mine was from my mom saying how proud she was of me and how much she loved me. (It) still chokes me up when I think about it”
“She was trying hard to provide for us and start a new life after divorce,” Good said. “This meant the world to me that in her world of turmoil she paused to write me this beautiful message.”
Tonasket resident Patti Hill said one Christmas Eve sticks out in her memory.
“One Christmas after my twin brothers were born, my mother was very tired after preparing for Christmas meal and wrapping gifts,” Hill said. “We sat down in the living room to reflect on the activities and rest with everyone else gone to bed. That Christmas Eve was special as we decided to open the gifts, we had given each other.
“I believe we didn’t stop at just that one,” she said. “What a fun time we had just us as we knew Christmas morning after Mass would be hectic and this was ‘our time.’ (I) miss my caring, giving and sweet mother, Muriel.”
Leslie Todd, Okanogan, said her fondest memory of her mom was when she would dance to “The Stripper” in the living room.
“She would take a towel and swing it around her back, sliding it back and forth finally tossing it away,” Todd said. “She would pretend to peel her long gloves off her forearms and hands, tossing them into the air.
“I could have watched her dance for hours,” she said. “She and dad would dance together to all the oldies and big bands.”
Okanogan Highlands resident Jana Kline said “every memory of my mom is a good memory.
“She was the queen of one-liners and puns,” Kline said. “She was firm with discipline, but never raised her voice.
“The best memory that was condensed into one moment of my life with her was a couple short sentences she spoke while we sat together two months before she passed away,” Kline said. “‘I love you, Jan. Do you want to put your feet up here?’ as she patted her lap. Now, it may not seem like much to most, but my mom was stricken with dementia and was in the end stages which is brutal for everyone.
“She was far from the mom I knew, and she didn’t know me from the mailman,” she said. “It was a miracle that she knew love and knew me – just for a moment.”
Rick Castor, Tonasket, said his mom purchasing land for him is a favorite memory.
“My mum bought me my land because, in her words, ‘I needed a garden I can keep,’” he said. “I told her I wasn’t ready yet, (but) she said, ‘yes you are.’”
“So, a search for the garden began 20 years ago,” Castor said. “I landed here, on the river, and planted my garden –a keeper. I can still hear laughing and saying, ‘That’s my boy.”
Francis Lesamiz, Oroville, said a fond memory is her mother raised 12 children.
“When I was in first and second grade, there was a car where we lived, (we would bring chalk home that was too small to use at school). She taught us to print and do arithmetic on that old car,” Lesamiz said. “If we didn’t have chalk, we would use a stick and write in the dirt.
“Also, after supper dishes were done, we would sit around the table (and) she would give us spelling words or arithmetic problems,” she said. With everyone siting together, the younger children would pick up on the older children’s answers. Sometimes that would make us excel in some subjects. Then, when we were finished, mom would read to us. That is only one fond memory of a loving mother. I love you always, mom.”
Tonasket resident Leilani Kilpatrick said picnics and drivers are a favorite memory.
“Back when I was a kid, we could only afford to go on drives for our family entertainment,” she said, noting gas was much cheaper back then. “My mom could wrangle up a five-course lunch and a change of clothes (just in case) in ten minutes flat. We would usually head for the hills. Our picnics were always filled with nature and so much good fun.”
Oroville resident Michelle McElheran said she and her mom have always been close. When her mother turned 50, and McElheran was 18 years old, she decided to throw her a surprise party.
“Her mother died when she was just five, so she’d never had a birthday party ever,” McElheran said. “I emptied my bank account, sent invitations to all her friends (including my dad at our house, because I knew he wouldn’t pay for such an extravagance), ordered cake, flowers, balloons, and made appetizers.”
McElheran said she managed to keep the party a secret, despite doing all the preparations “right under her nose.”
“The look on her face at the party was priceless and remains one of my favorite memories ever,” said McElheran.
Omak’s Roni Holder-Diefenbach said growing up, she thought she had the “meanest mom ever,” especially during the teenage years. She later realized her mom was not mean, just strict.
“She was strict because she wanted us to grow up to be responsible adults with good values, goals, and have a work ethic,” said Holder-Diefenbach, who became pregnant at the age of 17.
“I was so afraid to tell my parents, especially my mom, and when my boyfriend (now husband) and I sat down to tell them, I will never forget my mom’s response.”
“You’re not the first, and you won’t be the last,” Holder-Diefenbach was told. “We will be here to support you through this.”
“And they were!” said Holder-Diefenbach. “When I became a parent I knew I wanted to be just like my mom, the meanest mom ever, and hoped that my children would eventually come to the same conclusion I did...That the mean mom really just wants to protect her kids, teach them about life and make them accountable for their decisions.”
Holder-Diefenbach said she was happy she had “the meanest mom ever,” who helped her become the person that she is today.
Karen Schmidt of Tonasket said she didn’t have just one fond memory.
“My mom was my lifeline in the beginning and growing up, and my best friend after I grew up and to the end of her life,” said Schmidt. “She never thought of just herself, she always put others first, led the family with love, calmness, firmness, generousness and grace.”
Tonasket’s Jennifer White said she, too, did not have just one fond memory of her mother, but many. Favorites include: “The times she used to cook with music going in the background and she would swing dance us around the kitchen as kids, even as adults. The birthday calls at our birth hour. The grace she had for
everyone. Her hands-on cooking lessons. And flour all over us, giggling in the kitchen,” recalls White. “My mother never judged us. She stood by all our bad decisions, and gave us love and advice when needed.”
White’s best memory is a bittersweet one.
“The night before my mother took her last breath, she said to me, ‘Jennifer, even though cancer has won, remember to dance. Remember to love with all you have, and forgive often. Always remember the times we shared and that I will always be with you.’”
“She was amazing,” said White.
Diana Lynne Teachout of Olympia remembered her mother’s smile.
“Hilda’s smile – she could light up a room with her smile,” said Teachout.