I think this picture of dancing with my mother is my favorite photo of us together. Those clear blue eyes gazing up at me with her years of wisdom, limitless strength for each day’s challenge, and hope for a better future. Mom was born on her family’s farmhouse kitchen table. The world went through extraordinary changes in her lifetime. She started life without indoor plumbing, traveling through the snow in a horse drawn sleigh to a country school.
My first memories of Mom are from the 1960s. It was an era when the world changed forever in a dozen different ways. I remember Mom and our family sitting around the TV watching a man walk on the moon for the first time. But the biggest change-maker I personally witnessed during the 60s was Mom walking out of our house and into her classroom. Mom was a pioneer in helping high school drop-outs earn their GED degree. The curriculum she wrote for St Paul Public Schools became the model for the nation, providing a second chance to generations of struggling students across our country.
She was also a pioneering teacher of English as a Second Language helping generations of Immigrants make the United States their home. Throughout her career she’d take every opportunity to empower women. At the St Paul Technical Vocational Institute, she helped with the S.H.E.R.O. Program; standing for, “She Has Everything Required to Overcome and Succeed.” S.H.E.R.O.’s mission was training women for jobs at the Phone Company that traditionally had only been for men. Giving women higher paying jobs repairing telephones, not just answering them.
Mom always seemed to be on the right side of history. After her death in March of 2020 the world changed forever. I look into the future and hope I can face the problems of today with her same optimistic courage for seeing the right path towards history now.