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My View: A salute to a remarkable life

By Ross Feltz

Planning a celebration for Mom’s 90th birthday invites much reflection, of course.

Mom and Dad had a lifelong love affair. They met as teens in the neighborhood. They married in 1945. They raised me and three younger sisters in that same area off Clinton Street between Bailey Avenue and Babcock Street.

They celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary just two months before Dad died.

Since then, Mom continued to be the spiritual and caring presence she has been since we were young. Mom depended on Dad for many things. She didn’t drive until she was in her 40s. But she also had an independent side. Her first car was a convertible.

Shortly after Dad died, it was clear that her car had run its course. At a Saturday family gathering, Mom was dialing car dealers inquiring about slightly used convertibles. By the end of the day, she had purchased a new blue convertible. I was impressed as she negotiated with the salesman on a cash deal.

Mom was frugal, so I wasn’t that surprised she had saved enough for that. Mom and Dad worked hard to provide for us. Dad had an additional job on Saturdays when I was young. Mom worked part-time, but mostly evenings or all night so she was home with us during the day, particularly in the summer. It was only when we were older that she worked full-time.

Our family rarely splurged on things, but we were happy and never seemed to go without. When I “needed” a new ball glove as a youngster, Dad and Mom drove me to a gas station that had gloves as a premium of some sort. I wasn’t thrilled, since the other kids would know where it was from. But Duke Snider’s name was on it, so that was some consolation.

Saturday was usually the day that Dad drove Mom and us from store to store for shopping. Mom was price conscious – better to say value conscious. Still, for Easter, Christmas, confirmations and other special times, she saw that we had complete new outfits.

Education was important. She helped us with homework and encouraged us. They sacrificed some things to send us to Lutheran school because a religious foundation was important to them. She encouraged me to take the entrance exam to Hutch Tech. They paid for our first two years of college.

Church and faith were important. Dad once turned down a job because he’d have to work some Sundays and miss going to church with the family. We grew up seeing both parents as givers and doers at church, but I think Mom was a bit more the spiritual shepherdess. Her Facebook comments usually include PTL – Praise the Lord. And she does: It’s what keeps her upbeat and upright.

She still drives herself to Bible class, Sunday school and other church activities. She works at polling places and does other community service.
She is always at the ready to attend a great-grandchild’s event or look after one of them. With seven in the immediate area, there are plenty of opportunities.
The celebration of our extraordinary Mom becoming a nonagenarian was held on Sept. 5 at Camp Pioneer on Lake Erie in Angola, a place that she and Dad made influential in our formative days and later hosted weddings and other family events.

Joining her four children and spouses were most of nine grandchildren and spouses and 14 great-grandchildren. We began the day attending Pioneer’s outdoor worship service and gave thanks to have been blessed with a mother (and father) who showed us what it’s like to be a blessing to others.

Ross Feltz grew up in Buffalo and now lives a couple of hours down the road in Meadville, Pa.
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