A woman sitting on a rubber raft on a beach with water to her back on trees in the distance. This is probably a beach at a lake.

Our Mothers Before Us

My mother turned 90 earlier this year. It is a milestone birthday, so I set out to recognize it with a video that captured the span of her years. As I reviewed and gathered photos from the late 1920s to the present, I realized how many roles she had in life:  a granddaughter, daughter, cousin, sister, friend, wife, mother, sister-in-law, grandmother, and many more. She wasn’t just my mother – she was a critical character in many other lives.

I found I was most intrigued by the photos of her as a young woman, a few years before marriage and motherhood. Who was she then? What did she want and expect of the future? What were her hobbies? These are not questions I can pose to her, as she has Alzheimer’s disease. My father would not know; he did not meet her until they attended college together. Her brothers are deceased. So, it is left to my imagination, which is not a bad thing. I do struggle to relate to her sunbathing in the pose above, holding a baseball bat (she’s the one in black heels, below) or riding a horse (I remember her saying they frightened her).  I like it that there is, and always will be, some mystery associated with these photographs of her.

I’m not the only one intrigued by who my mother was…before.  Gina Sorell wrote an article in the May 2017 Good Housekeeping titled, “How I Really Met My Mother.”   The article indicates that Sorell stumbled onto a box of long-lost photos, prompting Sorell to ask about her mother’s youth.  Sorell’s blog contains a Discover Your Mother series – individuals sharing photos of their mothers and briefly describing who these women were – before becoming moms.

The video for my mother’s 90th birthday was enjoyed by me, my father & sisters, and her grandchildren. It was about three minutes long, with 46 photos and captions. I expect I will continue to enjoy it for years to come.


“The video and my repeated visits to it over and over have and will help me release a lot of pent-up emotions.”      

~Susan D. in Boardman, OH (March 22, 2017)


“What a wonderful tribute to Mom, a great collection of pictures of her.”    

~Sandra M. in Boardman, OH (March 22, 2017)



3 thoughts on “Our Mothers Before Us

  1. Rebecca Anderson says:

    This really resonated with me. I just got back from a visit with my parents. While there, my 85 year-old father and I perused old family photos that his mother had compiled. There was my father as a teenager and young adult. Lots of “silly” photos of he and his friends’ good times. Like you, I experienced the sense that this was a person I never knew. Lucky for me, my father was able to share the stories that went with the photos.

    Liked by 1 person

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