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The first and last breaths of life Tom Basinski | Sat, May 05 2012 12:00 PM

Just because a guy grows up to become a big-mouth, wise-guy cop doesn’t mean he didn't have a wonderful mother.

Where did Mom and Dad go wrong? Who knows?

A few years ago I wrote about my dad for Father's Day. This one's for you Mom, born Mima (a Scottish name) Jean Hoskin. My mother came to Flint, Michigan from a small town in Canada when she was seven years old, the seventh of eight kids. She was a child of the Depression and its effects never left her. We scrimped, saved, and recycled even before there was recycling.

Raised a strict Methodist, she faced her first crisis when she married my dad, a Polish Catholic. What to do? She converted, but I’m convinced she never lost her affinity for the Methodists and their wonderful services and hymns.
I came along after WWII when jobs were few and money was scarce. We had one car, one income, a coal furnace in the basement, and were the last in our neighborhood to get a television.

Like most moms of her day, Mom was a housewife. She took in ironing for neighborhood women who worked at the nearby A.C. Spark Plug factory.

Our meals were simple, healthy, and assembled with an eye toward the pocketbook. My dad had low-paying sales jobs before he hired on with a bank at age 40. Because we had one car for work, Mom and I walked to the supermarket about a mile away pulling a red Radio Flyer wagon. To get to the A&P store we had to cross a major four-lane highway where the nearest traffic signals were a half-mile distant.

My mother baked cookies, cakes and pies every Saturday that lasted a few days. My brother, older by three years, and I made great dents in our food supply. During all this, my parents counted pennies and sent us to Catholic school.

When I was growing up, my mother was so much fun. We entertained the entire neighborhood on rainy days with board games and hanging around in our living room or on our front porch. At night, we listened to a huge wooden Zenith console radio.

My parents had a “surprise” baby when my mom was 40 and I was 10. He was the apple of our eyes and the light of our lives. A nicer guy I have never known.

In 1960, when I looked up into the bleachers during the season’s final junior varsity football game there were four people sitting in the wind and rain, counting my mom and little brother,. She attended every football and basketball game.

Mom really missed us when my older brother moved to Arizona and I moved to California. When younger brother moved out I could see the change in her. Her life’s purpose for so many years was now gone. She had taken care of everyone for so long and now she wasn’t needed. I noticed a decline.

My younger brother, Len, contracted Type 1 diabetes when he was 10 and died in 1992, at age 36. A part of my mom died then too. She was never the same. She didn’t fully embrace her daughters-in-law and that broke my heart. I wish my wife knew Mom when we were growing up, to see the kind of woman she really was.

Along with other health issues, breast cancer and heart problems got the best of her. I retired in 2005 and spent most of my time in Michigan caring for my parents. Thank goodness my wife understood and never harbored a grudge.

When Mom died on April 10, 2006, at age 86, I was at her bedside. I told her it was okay to let go because she was fighting to stay alive. She had lived a good life, raised three decent sons, and been a fine wife.

She was with me when I took my first breath and I was with her when she took her last breath. I found an odd comfort in that. Hey, guys, don’t forget Mother’s Day.

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Bob Krumweide Says:

Sat, May 05 2012 05:56 AM

Only Tom can write such a heartfelt story about his mother.....I grew up in that era with my Mom and can relate to all they went through.

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