I Remember Mama – Part 1

A Journal of Joy: Things that make my heart smile…..

One of my favorite old movies is I Remember Mama, based on the stage play by the same name and the book Mama’s Bank Account written by Kathryn Forbes in the 1940s. It’s a true account of a Norwegian family living in the San Francisco area in the early 1900s. Filled with warmth and humor, its popularity even spawned a TV show in the 50s called Mama (definitely not to be confused with Mama’s Family which aired in the 80s) that ran for 8 years. The appeal of I Remember Mama was always family and especially “Mama” who many times is the glue that holds a family together.

As we grow up, there are so many things we forget about our mothers. My mom died 48 years ago when I was in my twenties, but it is amazing how much I remember about her. As Mother’s Day approaches I’ve been reflecting on my mother and the lessons I learned from her.

Yes, I remember Mama! In fact, I remember her so well I’ll need two blogs to share some of my memories with you.  

I remember her wisdom: Imbued with tons of what we called horse sense in the Midwest, she was a cross between Dr. Laura and Solomon. “There are always three sides to every story: yours, theirs, and what really happened,” she’d say. Her theory was that many times we don’t intend to shade the truth but we do see everything from our perspective, which can be skewed.

I remember her service: She lived by the motto of doing unto others as you would have them do unto you. If any friend, relative, or neighbor needed help, mom was there. She brought food to the hungry, nursed the sick, and visited the lonely.

I remember her insight: She’d say, “Life is not fair so deal with it.” It’s not something an idealistic child wants to hear but I learned at a young age, it isn’t always the most qualified, talented, or deserving person who ends up with the job, position, or first prize.

I remember her beauty: In her younger days, many a stranger stopped mom to ask if she was a model, but what really made her beautiful was how she genuinely cared for others and her giving heart. Even at Christmas time, everyone got a gift, even the boy who delivered the newspaper. It may have only been a pencil box because we didn’t have much money, but whatever we had, mom was glad to share.

I remember her honesty: “Don’t say anything behind anyone’s back you wouldn’t say to their face,” she’d say. These are words she lived by. I’m not implying she only said nice things about people but whatever she said, she was willing to stand by it.

I remember her humility: If she felt she was wrong she would apologize, even to me and I was just a kid.  

I remember her hard work: Believe it or not, it took both of my parents working to keep us in the poverty we had grown accustomed to. I was a “latchkey kid” before they even had the term. Neither of my folks had much of a formal education, so they took whatever jobs they could get. Sometimes mom would hold down a full-time job and take in ironing on the side. Mom never complained and I never went without home-cooked meals or the necessities in life.

Mama’s been gone a long time, but I remember her very well—always with joy and thankfulness.


Dear heavenly Father, words can’t express the gratitude I feel towards You for giving me my mom. What joy she brought to my heart! What lessons I learned from her! What an example she set for me! When she passed away it left a hole in my heart, but her memory fills it with love and legacy. I thank and praise You for my mother! 

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