Saturday, May 13, 2017

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

Our mothers are our first teachers. As babies, and then as children and teenagers, we notice everything our mother does - from the way she combs her hair to her favorite food and even the way she answers the phone.  My mother used to pick up the phone, take a big breath, and then say "Hello!" with an upnote in her voice.  I wish I could hear that "Hello!" today. 

Mother's Day has always been a time of reflection for me, ever since my younger brother, Brian, was born on Mother's Day, May 14, 1958. When my mother was alive, I always felt the mysterious connection between Mother's Day and my attempt to choose a unique gift that would please her, knowing that the gift of a child on that day in 1958 was one that could not be topped! The year that Brian was born, my older brother George and I constructed handmade cards for her in school, but the cards had to wait until mom and our baby brother came home.  Her joy at having a new baby turned into fright when Brian developed Rose Fever, and he could not be put down on his back because congestion and cough choked him, blocking his respiratory tract, resulting in his inability to breathe. For weeks, our mother walked the floors all night, holding Brian in her arms, cooing her love and trying everything the doctor had told her to do to keep his airways open. Antihistamines were not available over the counter in 1958, and I do not recall what medications Brian could have, since he was just weeks old. Although I was only 6 years old and my brother George was 8, I remember how we discussed worrying about Brian, and we knew that our mother was exhausted. She was taking care of a sick baby, all while keeping our house, dinners, Dad's work schedule, and bagged school lunches going.  This was one of the first lessons Mom taught me about love - that no matter how you feel physically, you have to do whatever is needed to take care of the ones you love. She also taught me acceptance and patience, because although Brian was sick, she said the Rose Fever would not last forever, and brighter days would come. Throughout her lifetime, no matter how difficult the situation, my mother always looked for the "up" side, or she would search for the good that would come from the bad. My mother turned me into an optimist, although I am also a realist. Her strength for serving the family she loved never wavered, no matter how difficult the circumstance.

Mom's lessons about strength and optimism served me well when my late husband, Scott, was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer in December, 2009, and given 12 months to live. Suddenly, I had to become a full-time caregiver, while working as a teacher and coach and director.  We had no children, so that was one less item on my plate; instead, I had the added responsibility of caring for Scott's parents for years, and now I would have to continue that, without Scott's help. The working and caregiving responsibilities for everyone was so difficult, and they required a great amount of juggling on my part.  I knew I was "becoming my mother", and that was a good thing. It was because of her strength and her example that I could fulfill all of the responsibilities to my loved ones.

I had to laugh about my older brother, George, telling me that I had "become our mother" after I had symptoms of appendicitis and drove myself to the hospital last October (while my appendix was rupturing.)  Although George's funny line was a real compliment to me, I believe it was a bigger compliment to our mother, who lived the example of such a strong woman that I had to become one as well. ( Audrey definitely would have driven herself to the hospital!)

Our mother passed in 2002, just 82 days after our dad. My brothers and I miss them both every single day, and we are all so grateful for the way they taught us and guided our lives.

Happy Mother's Day, Friends!  Kiss your mom, and tell her you love her.  Write a note to your mom about the great lessons she has shared with you.  

How I wish I could hug and kiss my mother one more time! 

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Rittman Publishing, LLC ®

GRADY GETS GLASSES was the winner of Best New Children's Book 2016 from The Authors' Zone. For more information about The Authors' Zone, please visit  

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 readingSigned 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 now has plush Grady bunnies for sale!

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

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