The Jenny Genes. . . .this Mother’s Day. . .

She was a formidable woman with a bundle of energy having the potential to create another world.  She wielded this energy with considerable force.  That said, the heavens took note of Jenny and decided that this creature would not be wasted.

And she wasn’t.  Hand in glove she pushed her progeny.  Told them all what to do and how to do it if they stumbled.

And marched them to church, whatever one was closest because her god lived everywhere, in the barnyard, in the fields, in the orchards and in the house.

She feared the health department would hang a contagious sign on her door unless we were brushed dry with a stiff brush.  Altogether, she was a force to contend with.

There were no hugs, no I love you in my childhood.  She believed the movie star as I read to her from a magazine that I bought with school milk money when he said he only kissed his children when asleep.  He’s right she said.  Let other people praise you.

She was in the orphanage at five and did not know of love.  She knew of work at eight years because that’s when the foster family took her into their house and barroom to be a live-in helper.  She knew that no one feeds you for nothing as she often said.

But memories are built with the security of the aroma of cinnamon breads and mince pies and angel wings with powdered sugar like the dust of stars.  She manifested love in the good work of her hands. Home and children squeaked clean of her caring.

The warmth of newly polished stove pipes was sent throughout the house.  Everything was fragrant including us children with the scent of Sweetheart soap.  Holidays brought the pungent sharpness of evergreen and unbridled excitement of eight siblings.

What the parents didn’t know of love, we siblings brought our histories to teach each other and even our parents.  They knew to care for what they brought into the world, best as they could.  The public-school nurse marveled at us with our white starched clothes and wondered how our mother managed.

The last days she knew I walked with one foot in other worlds so was able to share openly her departure.  It eased closure for us both.  I now watch the jenny genes in all her progeny as they reveal themselves.

Not a walk in the park but I hope they find as I have because life demanded it, that she gave to us an unbelievable strength.  With gratitude,  I am your daughter, Veronica


artwork by
Claudia Hallissey


10 responses to “The Jenny Genes. . . .this Mother’s Day. . .”

  1. email from Suzanne. . . What a beautiful tribute to your mother! I’m sitting here crying my eyes out at the love and admiration flowing through your words. Thank you for this sharing. And have a happy Mother’s Day, Veronica!

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. email from Carol. . . .Well, I loved this one Ronnie. In those days there were no books telling us how to raise our children. We did the best we could.
    We probably didn’t realize what wonderful parents we had till we got older. I like your Mom from what you’ve written about her –
    good, strong & loving in the only way she knew.

  3. Thank you for the glimpse of history. I always say, “I feel Babci pushing me through every struggle… through every project! It is like her strong arms are on my shoulders pushing…she is my backbone…she is my strength…she is my Babci. Thank you Aunt Vera for this glimpse into the evolution of a strong woman.

  4. Suzanne, and the tears laced the words for me. It was hard going. Thank you for telling us.

  5. Carol, and in her departure she said she couldn’t show what she did not know. And again confirmed to me that there are no skipped steps in evolution. She was not shown love as a child, so she did not know to show it. It was in her work for us she did. Thank you for your insight.

  6. Maria, never having been a daughter, she did not know the love of a mother. It took a lifetime for me to love her for the reasons she could show. That is a hard lesson to learn. Thank you for your insight.

  7. Kathy, we who knew her as mother feel her effects still. We expected so much of her because we benefited in what we lacked and she had in abundance. Her rearing was nakedly empty of love so the softer side of her she did not know. But what was work related was expected and praised. We have been both cursed and blessed, and more blessed as we get older. Thank you for seeing this and commenting. She is still a force in all of us.

  8. Veronica, For decades, I have heard you speak of the “Jenny gene.” But not until today (two weeks after Mother’s Day), having read this post, did I truly understand. Thank you for sharing the love, respect, and devotion you have for your mother. It is inspiring.

    • Catherine, I appreciate your comments. It took a long time for me to love her for the right reasons. When living with such a force it takes time for one to come to resolution of conflicting emotions. Her added years gave us both time. A real gift to each of us. Thank you for reentering our lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *