Happy Mother’s Day Posted by: McQ
on Sunday, May 13, 2007
I'm sitting here thinking of my mother who died a few years back. In fact, I've got a photo that sits above my desk of her holding me when I was about a year old. She waited a long time for me to come along (9 years) and, in fact, she and my dad had talked about adoption before I showed up. But being the first, well, that has a specialness about it.
My mom was a child of the depression and grew up in Martin's Ferry, Ohio. Depressions and hard times have a tendency to rob childhoods away. Their family didn't have much at all. As she used to tell me, she was painfully shy (a trait her first born had for his early years as well). But she also had a burning desire to do things and see places and have different experiences that drove her past that problem.
She and my father met in the '30s, while he was a corporal in the infantry (her brother served with my dad and that's how my folks met). I remember her telling me that they didn't have much money and that a date would consist of a nickel Pepsi they'd share and a walk down the main street of the town window shopping. And that was just fine with her.
They were married and WWII came along. My dad went to OCS, was commissioned and was shipped off to the Pacific where he fought on Saipan, Leyte and Okinawa.
My mom? Well, she figured she needed to do something more than just "support the war". She figured she needed to somehow contribute more to it. So the young woman who'd really never traveled outside of Ohio and Kentucky joined the Woman's Army Corps. After finishing her basic training, she applied for Officer Candidate's School and was accepted. She was commissioned and then applied to the Signal Corps. The Signal Corps, of course, was a part of the regular Army, not the WACs. So she transfered into what was known as the AUS (Army of the United States) as a Signal Corps officer.
As she would later tell me, it was an amazing adventure for her. The young woman from Martin's Ferry, Ohio served in North Africa, Italy and France during WWII. She rose to the rank of Captain, and commanded the only all female signal center (Southern Lines of Communications) in the European theater. She was awarded the Bronze Star, one of 535 women ever to be awarded the BSM in WWII.
When she came home after the war, as mentioned, she was a CPT and my dad was a 1LT. We used to kid him about that and one of his favorite lines was "the wrong McQuain got out of the Army. If she'd have stayed in, she'd be a general."
The funny thing is we all believe that to be true.
Instead she settled down to become the mother of three sons and the wife of a career officer. And like her military service she threw every bit of heart and soul into the task. She was the perfect army wife. When dad talked about the problems of command, she knew exactly what he was talking about having been a company commander herself.
And her boys? They were her world. And, she was ours. The three of us couldn't have had a better mother. She dragged us, willingly, all over the world, making everything an adventure and fun. After WWII we lived in Germany where one brother was born. We lived in half of a bombed out hotel. She made it home.
We lived on Taiwan in the '50s, right after the Nationalist Chinese had moved to the island. My father was with MAAG (Military Advisory Assistance Group) and an adviser to a Chinese division. We lived in pretty primitive conditions for a while and again, mom just made it an adventure. Somewhere we have a picture of her holding up two loaves of homemade bread. She learned to make bread because there just wasn't any available otherwise. And we boiled all our drinking water as well. But I remember our time there with real fondness because we just had fun as a family.
Over the years we boys grew up and moved away, but trips home were always wonderful. The sense of family and the love that entailed was always present and, frankly, I'd go home sometimes just to soak some of that up.
She died a few years ago, at age 83. She had suffered from senile dementia for years, ever since earlier suffering congestive heart failure. We buried her in her WWII uniform, which was her request, and laid her to rest in the National Cemetery in Ft. Smith Arkansas, right next to my dad.
Every day, as I sit down in front of this computer, I look at two pictures. One of me at about age two, holding on to my dad's finger as we walked down a street in Germany. And one of my mom, at Ft. Knox, KY, holding me on her knee. A son couldn't ask for two better parents.
As I sit here looking at that picture of me on my mom's knee, I realize how much I miss her. More than anything though, I realize how lucky I was to have had her for my mom.
thank you for me getting to read this. My dad was lucky enough to miss action in WW2, as he was sent over to Korea at the end and got there one week after the war ended. He was eventually shiped back to FT. Knox where my he meet my mom from Louisville, at a uso club while my mom went there with a friend of hers and they danced together that nite. Hmm so they were married in 1948 and had three childern. I am the last one born in 1955. they are old now and are living outside Durango Colo. So i miss my mom and dad, but i do call them at least every two weeks. And yes i did call last nite to say Happy mothers day to her. She was so very wonderful to me to me my mother. God bless
Your post brought tears to my eyes. A wonderful tribute to a remarkable woman. I feel the same way about my own mother who passed away about 7 years ago. She was born in Short Creek, West Virginia. My sister was born in Martin’s Ferry. My mom didn’t see much future for us in the Ohio valley, so we moved away when I was six (1957). Grew up in Florida, Georgia, and Texas. Lived 17 years in L. A. and now I am back in the area where my parents grew up. My father was career Army. I don’t know where you live but I would strongly recommend considering retiring in this area. The people are wonderful and the pace of life is less intense. Read Q and O every day and find much pleasure in your writings.
Read Q and O every day and find much pleasure in your writings.
Thank you Johnny, I appreciate that.
thank you for me getting to read this.
No, thank you for reading it. 1948, the year I was born at Ft. Knox. Small world.
We still boil all of our drinking water in Taichung.
You can buy bread now though.
Costco will be opening its Taichung store later this year.
I guess I have it much, much easier than you guys did.
Heh ... I remember it as a heck of a great time. I was 8, and for an 8 year old, it was heaven, primitive or not. Had a houseboy we called "Bucky". He was more like an older brother and took great care of us. He was going to school and living with us. Used to ask my mom for permission to experiment with plastic resins and the like in the kitchen. She told him sure, just don’t burn the place down.
About 6 or 7 years later, after we’d returned to the States, a letter from Bucky found it’s way to us. In it was a picture of him, his beautiful wife and his two sons. In the letter he told us he owned a plastics factory. My guess is he did very well.