Friday’s Weekend Column
About a Minnesota Man Exploring Life in the South

I Am An Orphan Now
by James Glaser
January 8, 2010

My mother, Barbara M. Glaser, died Wednesday, and I never would have thought of myself as an orphan, but my daughter Nikky said how strange it is that Wanda and I were both orphaned so close together. Wanda's mother, Joyce Grubbs, died the Saturday before Christmas.

It is kind of hard to think about not having my mother around any more. I'm sure it will take a while for that fact to really sink in. Until this last fall mother lived in the house I was raised in. It was always a source of pride for her to tell people that she still ran her own household. She and dad had the house built in 1946, and mother always kept it up. I always thought of it as Mom's house, because she cared so much for it.

Mom was a child of the depression, and that had a real impact on her. She worried about money, and that made her frugal. Frugal, but not cheap. Her house was in one of the better neighborhoods in Saint Paul. She had nice furnishings, and she always drove a nice car. A nice car, but a frugal car. Her last car was a Honda Civic, which she always told me got great gas mileage. I remember when she bought her first Honda. She waxed it ten times that first year, and it always shined like brand new. She waxed it, even though she could have afforded to hire it done.

Mom was frugal, and she was a hard worker. She taught me how to mow the lawn, change the storms and screens, paint the house inside and out. She could cut a straight line with a hand saw and was good with a hand plane. During the war she was a machinist in an arms plant making molds for bullets.

Actually, Mom could do anything she set her mind to, but she was also a great mom. She always praised me when I did something good. She pushed me, but not too hard. She helped me with home work and worried about me all the time.

When I was in Vietnam she spent a lot of time on her knees praying I would make it back home, and when I did, she beamed with pride—then she cried. That was her way. If something happened to me or one of my sisters, Mom was great. She could fix a cut or stay calm as she drove us to the emergency room for stitches, but when it was all over and we were back at home, she would fall apart.

In my whole life I never heard her say a foul word, nor speak ill of others. She was a good woman, and I was so blessed to be her son. It was nice that I knew how good she was for over forty years now. That knowledge really allowed me to enjoy our time together, and I know I'll miss her. Thanks Mom!

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