Today I want to feature a bit about my mother, Olive Fern Cox Meredith. Mom was born in Sullivan, Illinois in 1917 and died in 1992 at Decatur, Illinois. She was the mother of eight feisty kids. I am the oldest, now just one of five surviving children as I write this. Mom was married young to Paul E. Meredith. He died in 1985 in Decatur. My mother was a God-fearing woman who raised her kids in the church. Dad was of a different faith than Mom, but he let her raise the kids in the church of her choice so there was no family conflict. It was a good decision that allowed harmony in our large family. Mom never worked at a salaried job because she had so many kids it was a full-time job just caring for them, plus caring for Dad.
Life was hard for Mom and Dad. They had very limited educations. Most of the kids in our family were born shortly after WWII when money was hard to come by, so we had a large vegetable garden and raised a lot of chickens to help keep the grocery bill contained to some measure of affordability. Dad worked in a local iron foundry and Mom baked cakes and breads to earn a few extra dollars, plus Uncle Harley, Mom's brother, helped us a lot when we needed it. Dad was a frail man who was often ill and missed a lot of work, so Uncle Harley was that extra special person in our lives.
As I mentioned previously, life was hard back then in the early 1940s when I was starting school, but we lived in a neighborhood where most of the folks were plain working folks like us, several of them having large families like ours. We were poor, but we really never knew just how poor until a bit later when we were getting up in our grade levels at school. We started to notice that some of the kids dressed better than we did and they had spending money that we never had.
I think Mom and Dad tried to hide our lack of money as well as they could, but as we grew older we all understood how difficult it was for our parents to raise so many kids.
It was evident to me as I grew older that Mom and Dad gave their all to put their kids first in everything. They sacrificed everything they had for the kids in the family.
When I was an adult and a father, I could finally understand the difficult life my mother had raising all the kids. There were times when I was at home when I resented the fact they had more kids than they could afford, but later I saw it a little differently.
Today as I reflect on the wonderful job Mom and Dad did in raising a large family, I admire them more than ever. Under the same set of circumstances, there are few who could have done it better.
Love you Mom and Dad