Brand building through storytelling

My Mother – Rosemary Maynard Woolery

Rosemary MWThe one thing that brings my mother to the forefront of my brain is her lovely, soft skin. To this day when I need my mother, I find a piece of velvet and rub the fabric in my hands, and there she is in my mind’s eye.

While my mother would have been the first person to say that she was not perfect, I see my mother as the perfect mother for me. My most vivid memories of her are:

* Her brilliant mind. She seemed to have most of the answers to her children’s endless questions, times six.

* We always came first in her life.

* She had rules and you followed them.

* She absolutely loved a good joke or prank–she had a wicked sense of humour.

* She was a devout Catholic with an unwavering belief.

* She had a strong sense of justice and fair play.

I can imagine my mother as a child. She would have been the child selecting the least likely people to play on her team, to make them feel special and wanted.

My mother earned her master’s degree in library science. For a time she was a professional woman working at the Library of Congress, where she met my father, a librarian too. Yes, you could call them “bookends” (I say that in the most endearing and respectful way) for their true love of books, reading, the arts and especially each other.

Like so many women of her day, my mother stayed home once she started a family. As a mother myself, I can attest that the work did not end; it just changed locations. My mother raised six children, which at times must have been absolutely maddening.

In 1965 she was diagnosed with tuberculosis and immediately placed in a sanitarium so the disease would not spread to her family. She spent nine months away from her husband and children. During the separation, our family tape-recorded messages back and forth. (I have never found a single tape from this period, but continue to look.) In the recordings, Mother would give us advice, tell us stories, answer our endless stream of questions and let us know what she expected to hear from each of us. I clearly remember taping an oral book report about the book I was reading at the time. My parents found a way to keep us connected as a family, even though we were physically separated.

On Sundays during Mother’s confinement, we would visit her at the sanitarium. While we were not allowed near her physically, I’m sure the entire hospital knew when we arrived because six young children, about 10 and younger, would jump up and down and scream messages and blow kisses to our mother from the grounds or the parking lot. Our mother would hang out the window shouting back and blowing kisses to each of us. While it wasn’t the same as getting kisses and hugs from her, we never forgot her voice or what she looked like.

My mother passed away from pneumonia on July 7, 1979. I was just starting my adult life, so I have no recollections of her advising me on professional situations. She taught me to work hard and do the absolute best job I could, and that hopefully I would find something I loved doing that wouldn’t feel like a job. I did. I know she would have been proud of my choice and wanted to hear all my stories and adventures.

On the day our family buried our mother, our family priest said a few words to each of her children. His words to me were, “Louisa, you are exactly like your mother. Follow in her footsteps.” I feel I have done that in so many ways that would have made her smile.

Posted by Louisa Woolery

Previously posted comments:

Phyllis Ouellette
June 10, 2008 at 9:09AM

Louisa – I remember your mother so well – the epitome of “the good mother”. She was patient, kind, wise and SO organized. I learned so much from her and I’ve thought of her often as I faced the enivitable challenges of motherhood. When I learned of her death (unfortunately, two years too late) I visited her grave at Sacred Heart and thanked her for being such a good mom. i’ll never forget her many kindnesses to me or others in the neighborhood. I’ll always “head for home” when Mrs. Woolery rings the bell! My best to you and all your wonderful siblings –

Louisa Woolery
June 10, 2008 at 2:02PM

Phyllis, This is such a pleasant surprise. How odd to receive an e-mail from a former neighbor via Rona Maynard’s web site. WHAT A SMALL WORLD!

You brought back a very fond memory “The bell”. The bracket for that bell is still in place, but the bell is long gone. I believe every child in the neighborhood knew to run home when they heard that bell ring.

Thank you for sharing the kind memories of my mother, she was one of a kind and yes, organized. I believe you had to be very organized with six kids running in six different directions.

Feel free to contact me further.
Louisa Woolery

Carol Harrison
September 02, 2008 at 6:06PM

My mother went to a “finishing” school in either the U.K. or Switzerland; was educated in both Switzerland and South Africa where my maternal grandfather was a doctor during the Boer War. She raised the three of us kids, particularly me and to a lesser degree, my sister, the way she was educated, to be proper and a “lady”. How to walk, talk, dress and to respect one’s elders, ie. never refer to an older woman by her first name. That just wasn’t done. She was emotionally and phsyically loving though.
We were not treated as individuals with opinions to be expressed and in the early 70’s, I discovered feminism and my mother hated my interest in it and all things feminist. I was the so-called ‘black’ sheep of our family of three kids. We were, the five of us, five very different personalities and my mother and I, we didn’t see eye to eye on many things, especially social issues. She railed against everything I believed in and I went through a stage of wanting to change my last name to Shirley MacLaine, then, an idol of mine and I wrote to author Dale Spender and a book she had written about girls and gender and had her address it to Carol MacLaine. My mother got my mail first, put a pen stroke through the name I gave myself, threatening to burn my letter.
This is how very different we were. I wasn’t following in her educational footsteps much to her chagrin.
Although my mother has been dead for twenty-plus years, I have some letters addressed from her to me while she was at Princess Margaret Hospital and I will always treasure them. My feelings for her are rather, even somewhat….ambiguous. I don’t know if I miss her despite our major differences of opinion and yet….her letters mean everything to me.
Strict in a loving way….that’s all I can remember of her. Not allowed to be myself, is another thing I remember about our frictional relationship.

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