Something From Almost Nothing (a Mother’s Day tribute)

Where do I begin, this Mother’s Day?

Duane & Betty Rosenberger - Sidney IA - 1951

The more I remember my mother, Betty Grimmer Rosenberger, of blessed memory, the more I admire her.  For those who did not know her, my older brother John’s eulogy (here) sums up the essentials.  The slide show preceding her funeral service is short and sweet.

Mother kept a journal most of her life, from about 8th grade well into her 70’s, with some seasons of her life well detailed and others seemingly skipped.  Her journal entries during my early childhood are a marvel.  While I was playing on the Pecos River, burying cantelope in the sandy river bank to cool it down and marking its spot with as stick so as to find it later, Mom was wondering how much credit the grocery store in town would allow before her meager school teacher paycheck arrived at the end of the month.  Or the short, sad entries of ‘D’ (Duane, my Dad) out late and home drunk again.’  (Dad turned his life completely around some years later, but that’s another post of another day.)

I thank my mother most for demonstrating tenaciousness in the perfection of ones talents. Before I left for boarding school at age 14, she returned to her first love, painting.  (Our family’s fortunes improved with Dad’s race horse breeding and training business hitting its stride.) She earned a fine arts degree at the University of Iowa as WWII concluded, then sought a teaching job as close to Ozona, Texas as she could.  She longed to return to her childhood community and her beloved grandmother, Dixie Davidson.  The closest she could get was a Pecos River oasis town of Ft. Sumner, New Mexico.  She was smitten by a quit-high-school-to-fly-a-P51-Mustang-in-the-Army-Air-Corps cowboy.  Dad introduced himself at Sprout’s Cafe (then on main street next to the bank) based on Bill Hitson’s bet he couldn’t get a date with such as nice school teacher type.  They almost eloped but Mom’s mother, a pre-Law graduate from the University of Texas essentially read the riot act to her.  Anyway, I found her one morning asleep at her work table with her hair matted to a church painting she was working on, with a couple of 100 watt lights glaring over her shoulders.  The ‘Churches of the Rio Pecos’ collection, fourty of them, are a legacy and treasure of New Mexico history, 39 of them hanging in Dos Palomas (two doves), the home John and I general contracted for her to display them.

The point of this remembrance is mother taught me now to make something from almost nothing, but hard work and trust in the talents and gifts one is blessed with.  Granted, Mom had a college education — a liberal arts education, when a college education mattered, but painting is a craft.  She did not hit her stride until thousands of hours of practice, as Malcolm Gladwell asserted in Outliers (Little, Brown & Company, 2008)

Mom is my reference point for growing ProcessTriage®  and finding Immersion Workshop Facilitators — men and women who can unconsciously lead a team of strangers through a crazy-focused team building moment.