Tom Stangl

"All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother." - Abraham Lincoln

Sunday is Mother’s Day, a time to remember where you came from and apologize for the things you did in your childhood. Most send cards or flowers, visit or telephone — perhaps give a small token of esteem. Anything you do will be fine, it’s your mother after all, she’s seen and heard it all and loves you anyway.

I was born the fifth of six children to Arved and Mary Stangl. Both of my parents have passed away, Mom in 2000 and Dad in 2001. My wife’s parents have both passed away as well, so Mother’s and Father’s Day for us is a little strange.

The holiday is now more about making sure my daughters remember their mother. But it always seems bittersweet. For husbands out there, remember that Mother’s Day is one of the five days that a man must remember to get his wife a gift. The other days are her birthday, your wedding anniversary, Valentine’s Day and Christmas.

I believe we all are someone’s child, no matter how old we get. The first reaction to Mother’s Day is to think about your own mother.

My mother was a registered nurse and worked part time between the births of her children, taking time off until we were in school before returning to the workplace. She was an avid reader, devouring several novels a week. She served on the library board until her death. 

The love of reading, the quest for knowledge and the way to find knowledge are the three gifts my mom gave me that I will be forever grateful for. Whenever I would be reading, if I came across a word that I didn’t know the meaning of, I would ask her. “How is it used?” was the reply I would often get and after explaining the usage, she would give me a synonym that I knew. If I didn’t know that, I was then sent to the dictionary.

This thirst for knowledge and being taught the skills to acquire this information was freely offered to each of my siblings, and both of my sisters became librarians, one in the schools, the other in the public library system.

Those of you who came from large families can relate to the conflict and sibling dynamics that often arise. In my generation, the mother was the first line of discipline, and, depending on the severity of the offense, judge, jury and executioner.

We had a gravity fed floor fuel oil furnace in the two story home I grew up in which was lit by opening a valve to allow the fuel oil to enter the burn chamber. Then a lit match or tissue was used to ignite the fuel. Sometimes, the tissue would miss the mark, and instead of wasting another tissue, a wooden yardstick was used to push the errant tissue to the fuel. This blackened yardstick was left over the threshold of the kitchen, and when Mom went for “the stick,” as it was known, you knew you had crossed the line and passed the point of no return.

As I have said numerous times, parenting is not a popularity contest and order must prevail. My parents were not strict, but there were definite boundaries and we all knew the consequences for crossing the line.

As an “orphan” I encourage all of you who have mothers to remember them this weekend, as well as numerous other occasions during the year. We only get one mom, and you truly don’t know their value until they are gone.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

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