My Mother was one of those Mothers that every kid in the neighborhood gravitates to their house, fed everyone that came over, kept everyone over 21’s glass full of home made wine, and sent you home with a bag of fresh vegetables from her garden and jars and jars of stuff she had canned.
She was the most generous, kindhearted person I have known in my life and I can honestly say that everyone that met her loved her. She just had a way about her……
I was her youngest child and the two of us were inseparable. Even during a few years when I thought I needed a bit more space from Mom…..it didn’t phase her, she plugged along and was involved in everything I did.
Her constant presence in my life seemed normal to me. It wasn’t until High School that I realized I was truly blessed to have a parent who not only cared about me but also was involved in all that I did. I realized it when I saw how many kids had parents who never showed up for anything….no performances, let alone practice. My Mom showed up to everything….rain or shine. When we marched in the rain, she stood in the rain and cheered us on. When we marched in 100 degree days, she passed out water.
All 4 years in High School I marched in the Color Guard in Marching Band. My Mom never missed a practice or performance. She went beyond just showing up….She pulled a wagon with a cooler full of water and cups during many long hot parade routes, traveled out of town with us more times than I could count, chaperoned at 4 band camps, (always pulling the best practical jokes played at Band Camp….once took a pair of underwear from each boy and hung them up on the wall of the mess hall with the wrong names attached….including the band directors) donated a trailer to haul all of the marching band equipment in and pulled it with our old green truck, supplied, cooked and sold hotdogs at every home game for 4 years, donating all of the proceeds to the band .
After each game when she had hot dogs left she was sure to give each janitor a couple of hotdogs and any person who happened by who looked hungry……always on the look out for someone that had a couple small children; then she would send them all home with them.
She painstakingly dragged this large cooker along to each game so that the buns for the hotdogs could be steamed and always supplied her homemade relish and onions fresh from the garden for the hotdogs…..people waited in line for Mom Neumann’s hotdogs. They were the best!
I have no idea how much money my Mom raised for the band over those years but her constant support, especially to the kids who had no parents who showed up to anything, was her true gift. Mom toted kids all over town who didn’t have a ride to or from practice, when we went out of town she always brought enough food to feed an army in case someone’s parents forgot. She was always there and constantly cheered us all on no matter what the circumstance.
I remember once when we were Marching at a big contest being held at Soldier Stadium in Chicago with a crowd of about 20 thousand people, we took the field in the pouring down rain. Half way up the stadium I could see my Mother jumping up and down yelling, “Those are my kids!!” through a mega phone…… We all were….all 300 of us. Every kid in that band called my Mom, “Mom”.
The kids in the band and band staff adored my Mom. She is the only non-athlete, non-student to have ever been lettered by my High School. She was given a letter and a letter jacket that said “Mom Neumann” on the back, at an awards banquet that I was asked to speak at. She cherished that jacket and all that it represented.
Surprisingly, over the weekend, while eating breakfast with my sister we saw an old neighbor of ours who also happened to be a close friend of my Mothers. She informed us that recently my old High School had honored my Mother for her work she did with the Marching Band. I was completely taken back.
Twenty three years later…can you imagine that?…I thought it was so wonderful and wished I could of somehow been a part of it. My sister and I both cried….what a beautiful gesture.
I was so blessed to have her for a Mother……she touched so many, many lives….
She was one in a million.