She hasn't had the easiest life, though her third marriage has lasted nearly four decades now. She was a divorced, single mother by the age of 25, working as a saleswoman at Sears while trying to take care of two semi-feral boys in an old wooden house with a leaky roof. We had some lean years, but my brother and I knew we were loved unconditionally.
My mother inherited a strong work ethic, and remarkable powers of endurance, from her forebears back on the farm in Indiana. Her family didn't have indoor plumbing until she was 12 years old. My grandfather as a boy would plow the fields behind two Belgian draft horses, and would know it was time to come home for supper when his mother hung a sheet in the window. "Tell me about the horses, Dad," my mother would say to my grandfather when he was deep into his 90s and clung to his murky memories as if they were handrails. He and my grandmother both lived nearly a century. So my mother is built to last, if she can just make it through her next challenge.
I can't be sure of this, but she seems to be appreciating the world more than ever. My mother is not a society lady, isn't a member of a club and hasn't been to church in quite a while. But she is interested in everyone and everything. She is egalitarian down to her last molecule. When we went to Wal-Mart, it was hard to make much progress toward the kitchen section because she wanted to greet everyone along the way. She doesn't seem to grasp the concept that the official Wal-Mart greeter is supposed to be an employee, not a customer.