Wilma, Love and Words
Having three brothers, my mother and I were special pals in contrast to the four male members of the household; thicker than thieves we were. After almost eleven years since her passing, I still want to pick up the phone to call her about some event in the family. Wilma taught me so many things by just being in her presence, but I do have some specifics.
The first lessons I would share are her love and acceptance of all people. Mother and my daddy were married for sixty-one years in addition to the six years they dated. She loved him unconditionally. But she also always looked for the best in every person. Even when there were obvious flaws in someone she knew, she could look beyond them to find the good in that person. Dogs were never allowed in the house, and she seldom went out among the chickens or the cows we raised. She was very much a lady and deemed her place to be in the home cooking, cleaning, and taking care of us.
The second very important lesson is her love of reading. She read the newspaper thoroughly and always had a book from the library to read as well. We had books from fairy tales to those big encyclopedias around the house. This was long before any digital information was available. It was always a bit amusing that she always thought anything in print had to be true. And maybe it was all factual many years ago. For as long as I can remember, she would say, “I should write a book.” She had so many stories to tell about growing up on the farm during the depression, her courtship with my dad, and her life on the farm. Over the years I heard many of these stories; funny adventures with neighbor kids, the doctor who traveled to the farms to deliver babies, cold winter trips to the school and town with the horse and buggy, and many local celebrations. As the years went by and I became an adult, I would encourage her to write some of these down. I bought her a journal. Then I tried a tape recorder. But she never followed through.
I retired from my full-time corporate job to go into business for myself in accounting when Mother was 80. After buying a new computer, the old one made a trip to her home, so we could write her story. There was a book called “To My Children’s Children” with many questions to stimulate memory that helped us with some of our thought process. After breakfast with my parents, Mother and I would retire to the computer, while my dad did the dishes. She would talk while I typed. At some point we decided to include recipes from family and friends. After ten months of writing we published her book as “Memoirs and Recipes of Wilma Weiland Diekhoff”. With the ISBN number we arranged for her to have a book signing at Barnes and Noble, and I now have a treasure of a picture of Wilma by her book signing table at the store in Peoria. We sold nearly seven hundred copies of the book, mostly by talking about our adventure to a number of ladies’ groups. Mother would speak shyly about her stories and quote specifics about the book, and I would talk about the importance and methodology of preserving family history. The book is still available digitally through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
So following Mother’s love of reading and writing, I am now writing as well. My first novel was published this year, “Annie’s Love”. It is a representation of one of five prints that hung on Wilma’s wall in her home for many years. I’m a number of years ahead of her in getting published, but her example gave me the encouragement to get into my own writing. I hope she is looking down from heaven with her beautiful smile. Thanks, Mother, for all your life has given me. Miss you!
Linking today with Retired-not-tired for Memory Monday - my mother.Linda Kay