Saturday, May 7, 2016

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

I am so lucky- I was blessed with two remarkable parents. 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post honoring my late father, who would have been 99 years old on April 24.  Today, for Mother's Day, I am reflecting on the influence of my late great mom.

As a girl, my mother was a champion swimmer, a talented diver, and a great student. As an adolescent, she became one of the most responsible young girls who ever lived, when her father died tragically in a work accident and her mother could not pick up the pieces.  In 1935, at 13 years old, Audrey had to grow up overnight and take care of her mother and the remaining siblings, including her young brother who was too ill to walk. Quite an undertaking for one so young. And without her father's income, and there was no such thing as welfare, and she went from living in the grandest house in the town to one of the worst houses in the town. My brothers and I heard this story, but we never understood it until we matured.

Mom Audrey never recovered from her father's untimely and accidental drowning death, nor from the sense of insecurity his death left in her heart. A few years before her passing, we found out that we all "did without" so that she could pay double mortgage payments on our family home.  Mom never wanted us to feel that terrible loss of home that she felt all those years ago.

Despite my age and the vast number of people I have met in this lifetime, my mother remains the single most responsible person I have ever known, with a strong work ethic, and strong-as-Pittsburgh steel loyalty.  These are the kinds of qualities and ideals she attempted to instill in her children.

If one of us wanted to join a club, play an instrument, take tap-dancing lessons (me!),  or apply for a part-time job, we were instructed on just how to complete such tasks- the pros and cons of such an undertaking, time requirements, physical and mental effort required, etc.  If we could not give 100%, Mom said we should not do it- we would ruin our reputations as being responsible individuals, and that once a reputation is ruined,  "There is no getting it back."  Isn't that the truth?

Mom Audrey really never discouraged us from trying something new, either; Mom wanted us to be the best we could be, and she wanted us to be happy in both our work and leisure. As long as we gave that 100% effort toward learning or doing something new, and if we ultimately did not like it or did not do well, she looked at it as more of a learning experiment than a failure.  After all, one who tries and learns never fails completely. 

In 1989, I accepted a very high-profile position in my school district as Assistant Director of the Spring Musical. Only the Varsity Football Coach had a more prominent place in the community- the Director and the Assistant Director were in the limelight, as the musicals were sold out every year, and lots of kids, parents, and PR were involved.

My mother came to the Wednesday Matinee Senior Citizen performance, and the show was great!  All of the students in the cast came to meet "Mrs. Rittman's mother", and my mother was overwhelmed with all of the workings of the musical.  I had appeared on stage in shows and worked backstage before my directing debut, but nothing on the scale of the Spring Musical. When the crowds dissipated, she made this statement, then asked me this question:  "Dede, I am so proud of you.  How did you know that you would be able to do all of this?"  I answered without hesitation: "Because you taught me that I could do anything." Weeks after the show was over, and all of the pictures were taken, and the last costumes were put away, I found a greeting card that seemed perfect for my mother. On the front of the card, next to the image of a cartoon woman standing at the top of a mountain, the card read:  "Behind every great woman . . . .  and inside "is her mother."  I wrote my mother a note about how much her belief in me, her lessons, her personal strength, her responsibility toward others, and her work ethic had influenced my life. When she died unexpectedly in September of 2002, I found that card tucked into a drawer of memories, which made me feel both happy and sad.

I miss my mother every day, and do make a concerted effort to try to be like her. She was a giving and caring person who never saw a bad trait in anyone. She was loyal and good, and reliable and thoughtful  Happy Mother's Day, Mom.  And thank you for all of the life lessons. 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

My mother in 1945- she was 23 years old

Visit Dede's webpage for complete details on her award-winning book, STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER.  Many colleges have made the book required reading. 
Signed copies are available Dede is also a national speaker on The Three C's for Classroom success: Confidence, communication, and Creativity; Avoiding Teacher burnout; and many other inspirational topics. 

I LOVE writing. And I love writing children's books- my newest passion. Although it will be a ton of work, I am looking forward to selling my books.  Since I was a secondary teacher, I know that I have much to learn about elementary students, and I will have to follow my own advice and be my genuine self.  However, I also know that I am passionate about helping kids who have to wear glasses, and that GRADY GETS GLASSES sends a positive message. I am willing to work hard and do all the things that also made me a successful teacher for 37 years. I remain inspired! 

Elementary teachers in Western Pennsylvania and beyond - I am willing to come into your classroom in person or as a virtual field trip through a group called Field Trip Zoom.  Check them out! 

Teacher friends- let me know if you want me to read GRADY GETS GLASSES at your school. I am willing to come in to discuss the creative writing process, why writing is important, and personal fulfillment through writing, along with reading my book.  I would appreciate the exposure, and I would make signed copies available for purchase in your classrooms following the reading.  Please email me at .  The website IS UP AND RUNNING!!!.  Signed copies ARE available!   Grady plush toys are ordered! 

Please like Dede's new page Grady Gets Glasses for updates about her children's book. 

Connect with Dede!

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