I Remember Mom: Blessed Be Thy Determined Spirit

By Richard Mabey Jr.


In September of 1973, at the age of 40, my mom, Janet Kemmerer Mabey, began taking courses at County College of Morris. It was such a landmark moment in time. I had just recently graduated from CCM and had left home to attend Sherman College of Chiropractic. My sister had just graduated from Chapel Hill School and began her freshman year at Boonton High School. And, my dad had just gotten a promotion at work, which involved setting up long distance trucking routes for oversized, flat-bed 18-wheelers.

I was now living in Spartanburg, South Carolina, in a small apartment close to Sherman College. The foundation and details of this particular chapter of “I Remember Mom” is drawn from the letters that my mom had written to me, in the Fall of 1973.

I remember being all so very homesick, at the time. There were times when I painfully missed my collie, Sunday. I missed the haunting and eerie sound of the creaking floors of the upstairs hallway of the old Mabey Homestead. I missed my mom and dad. And, I missed the joyous and happy spirit of my dear sister, Patti.

Mom would write to me about twice a week, and I would write her about twice a week. For some reason, Mom would write me on Wednesday afternoons and then on Sundays, after having lunch after church. My mother was a very disciplined woman, so she more or less set a pattern for pretty much all she did in life.

Throughout Mom’s letters, she shared with me the combined wonder, excitement, and frustration of beginning college. She wrote of climbing the hillside steps of County College. I remember those lines of her letters, all so well. For I had just completed two years of climbing those same hillside steps.

It was a most strange and bewildering thing to think that my mom was now attending the very same college that I had just graduated from, a few months ago. Mom took two college courses that Autumn of 1973. One was an introductory psychology class, the other was an English Composition class.

Mom’s routine was very disciplined. Every morning, she would have breakfast with Aunt Helen and my sister, before Patti would walk down to the bus stop at Clover Lane. Aunt Helen really was not our aunt, but rather an elderly cousin on my mom’s side of the family, who lived with us for many years.

A short while after Patti left to walk down to her bus stop, Mom would walk the same stretch of Route 202, to the intersection of Clover Lane and serve in her position of Crossing Guard for the children walking to grammar school. Then, after the last child was safely helped across the street, Mom would come home to the old Mabey Homestead. There, she would find Aunt Helen washing the breakfast dishes.

Mom had classes every day of the work week, except for Fridays. So, Mom only had a short time to rest after crossing the children, to then drive up to Randolph, to CCM. In those few minutes, Mom would have coffee and talk with Aunt Helen.

Mom had to be home from CCM, in time to cross the school children, walking home in the afternoon. Then, Mom would come home to find Aunt Helen and Patti baking a pie for supper, or just talking at the kitchen table.

After supper every night, when the last supper dish was put away, Mom would begin doing her homework and studying for her two classes. Mom had her heart set upon one day being a kindergarten teacher. My mom did earn her Associate’s Degree from CCM. Sadly, Mom was diagnosed with having four brain aneurysms. Mom endured four long brain surgeries, which more or less put an end to her dream to one day be a kindergarten teacher.

Life doesn’t always work out the way we want it. Sometimes, the good Lord has a different plan for us. It is a strange and bewildering thing at times, the paths that each and every one of us take in life. My mom touched the lives of hundreds of children, in her role as a School Crossing Guard.

None of us really know the full why of how it is that our lives unfold as they do. In many ways, it is a kind of trust between a person and God. Try as we me might, the twins, Fate and Destiny, often call us to a different direction in life. From which, we simply must walk forward along the path of life, trusting God’s infinite wisdom and unyielding love to guide us in the light of truth and loving service to others.

Richard Mabey Jr. is a freelance writer. He can be reached at richardmabeyjr@hotmail.com. Please put on the subject line: I Remember Mom.



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