SUNNY CAL JOURNAL - My Mother's Hands

By Bob Weaver

My mother's hands were cracked, calloused and sometimes bleeding when she came home from the sweater factory in Spencer. Her day began early, before 5 a.m., and ran late into the evening, working frequent overtime.

Sweater factory pay was slightly above minimum wage, or based on how much production each worker could do - the "piece rate." She worked those extra hard jobs for a little better paycheck.

The trip from Hur to Spencer across twenty-five-years, was made without fail during the worst of circumstances in cars with rear-wheel drive, through ice storms, blizzards and floods, somehow managing to get over Liberty Hill or traversing Henry's Fork, a much more primitive road during the 50s and 60s.

Meals were always on the table, yes, the table, requiring our family to sit down and have the meal together. She cooked and baked and cooked and baked, making all the special items for the grandkids, on which she doted.

She supported my dad through painful times when the politics changed and he would get fired from his State Road Commission job.

That support allowed me to educate myself and make a living, and lead a life that has been blessed.

During her adult years she was a caregiver to her aging mother and invalid brother who moved next door, seeing their daily needs were met, seven days a week.

After she died at the age of 69 in 1985, I came home to do the sorting of things which my dad could not muster.

I found the pay stubs from her sweater factory retirement, about $25 a month.

It can be said the plant provided a great opportunity for people to make a living, but the small retirement check caused me to mourn her hard work and low pay, and I went out on the front porch to weep.

When I was nine years old, my mother purchased me a typewriter to use on a small desk in the tiny living room of our four-room house. Because the room was lit with a single gaslight, she bought an Aladdin lamp, which was the greatest light source at the time, generated by kerosene.

It was here at my desk under the radiant kerosene light, I developed the skill to type, while reading the dozens of books my family bought for me every year.

It was that reading and writing skill encouraged by my mother that has allowed me to have several careers, be a businessman, administrator, social activist, politician and reporter.

What gifts she gave to me, like many mothers give to their children.

With her that hard work, dedication and sacrifice surrounded by her enduring love, I remember my mom this Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day to all the woman who love their families.