Monday, May 2, 2011

A Drink to Everymom

Even though I sometimes tease my husband about preferring life at the firehouse (all guys, big shiny red truck, fresh-cooked meals, no wives or kids), I understand that it is a tough job.  I certainly would not be willing to run into a burning building no matter how much you paid me.  My husband's brother still isn't recovered from a nasty fall off a roof over a year ago fighting a fire.  It got me thinking about the book To Sleep with Angels.  It's the true story of a 1958 elementary school fire in Chicago.

I remember the story was terribly sad, but the only detail I can recall is the young boy who had been dragged out by his belt and dropped from the second floor as a fireman desperately tried to save as many lives as possible.  The boy, disheveled and bruised, walked home.  His mother saw him and quickly began scolding him for getting into a fight and forgetting his coat. He sat there at the kitchen table, dazed and bleeding, as his mother read him the riot act, refusing to believe his story until she saw the black soot under his nose.

When I read the book, I remember thinking what a horrible mother she was to not appreciate the gravity of the situation and instead go  right into "Mom the Admonisher" mode.  Now that I have 3 sons of my own, I see only myself in that mom.  I imagine what it would have been like for us aboard the Titanic:

 Son:  "Mom - wake up!  The boat is sinking!"

Me: "Knock it off, I'm sleeping."

 Son:  "Really, Mom!  We've got to go above deck!"

Me:  "Get out of here NOW."

Son:  "MOM!"

Me:  "If I have to wake up your father to yell at you, you're going to be sorry."

We'd all invariably perish.

When I first read To Sleep with Angels, my sympathy was with the poor boy whose mother didn't believe him. If I were to read it again tomorrow, my sympathy would be with the overwrought mother who made an honest mistake and probably had it thrown in her face for the rest of her life.  I think I'm going to pour a cocktail tonight and toast that mother.  Probably doing laundry, probably tired, probably worried about the world.

I hope that young boy has forgiven his mother.  I hope that mother has forgiven herself.  And somewhere, over the years of guilt, perhaps she can hear one giant pomegranate martini raised in her honor.  The second martini will be poured in an effort to forget the laundry that calls my name.  Here's to Everymom.


  1. Well put, TigerMom.

    From - posted by a woman who was there at Our Lady of Angels:

    Both my sisters Luella Marie Hartman and Ramona Hartman were in the school across the street from the kindergarten class I was in.
    The first thing I remember was my mother running in to get me.

    We went from hospital to hospital and morgue to morgue, looking for my sister Marie. Mona got out safe and sound, Marie did not.
    We went from hospital to hospital looking among all the bodies to see if we could find her. We finally found her at a hospital severely burned on her face, scalp, arms and hands. She spent a year in the hospital recovering.

    Today she needs a liver transplant due to getting cirrhosis of the liver from contracting Hep C from the blood she received and needed so badly to save her life in 1958. She continues to relive this tragedy because of the Hep C and failed liver.

    I'm drinking a pomegranate martini as I type: Ones for YOU, and ones for the little ones who perished that terrible day in 1958

  2. Amen. I think I've unconsciously blocked out a lot of the details of the book as it was just too horrible of an event to allow your brain to hold. I can't imagine (or honestly even try) to understand what the families went through that day.

  3. You spelled 'poor' wrong in the second to last paragraph.

    - Meaghan Navikcis Prett Puttmain

  4. Oh crap. Just fixed it. Thanks! Lots of hits today! Post me on Facebook!