Charlotte Rose Lynn was born in 1927 and lived near Ogden Park in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. She had four brothers and two sisters and grew up during the Depression.
I think about Charlotte Rose Lynn often. She was my mother and this Sunday is Mother’s Day.
My mother preferred to keep a positive attitude and described her life as a child as fun. It was my father, who also grew up near Ogden Park, who related that life wasn’t always bright for my mom. But growing up in an era when families were struggling during the Depression, we knew life wasn’t always upbeat in those days.
But if my mom had her share of heartaches, you would never know it. She had great memories about her brothers and sisters and the neighborhood she lived in. The only hint of sadness was when she discussed her mother, who she said had a great singing voice. This was a grandmother I would never meet. She became ill and never really recovered. I recall my mom saying that when her mother was being taken to the hospital, she told her to be good and watch over her brothers and sisters.
My grandmother died a few days later at the age of 42. This was a sad time for my mom, who was only in the eighth grade. Her mom would not be there for her teenage years and when she married my father, Frank Boyle, when she was 19.
My parents recall some great times when they were married, including a last-minute car trip to New York to visit relatives. Life became busier for my parents when the kids came along through the 1950s into the mid-1960s. But my mom loved having children and loved all of us.
She had a way of relaying stories to bring up a point or try to steer you in the right direction. This was a subtle gift she had. Instead of getting into arguments, my mom would tell you something in a way that would make you do the right thing. She could appeal to your conscience.
Hey, when you have six kids, my mother was like anyone else. Sometimes we pushed the limits. But we never really wanted to get her angry. Although we would joke with her and tease her on occasion, we didn’t want to make her upset. We had too much respect for her.
When I think of my mother now, I recall specific moments. She would consistently attend Longwood Manor Athletic Association baseball games to watch my brothers and I play baseball. She would take movies that we still have. On one New Year’s Eve, she, with the assistance of my little brothers and one of my sisters, Mary, captured some special moments on film. My one brother, Terry, dressed up as Father Time, using a wrapped hockey stick as a cane. My siblings bid him farewell as he strolled slowly up the stairs, mugging for the camera.
He was replaced by my youngest brother, Bobby, who was just 2 years old, dressed in a Baby New Year’s diaper. Those are some of the random events my mother would organize.
She formed block club parties and became active in neighborhood events. She also worked the polls on Election Day at St. Margaret of Scotland School. She would also watch baseball games with us and cheer on the White Sox. She would also watch Cub games occasionally, since they were mostly on during the day. My mom and my father became big Blackhawks fans after they won the Stanley Cup in 1961.
She was always someone I could count on to cheer me up when I was down. She held birthday parties for us and made Christmases special with her stories while holiday music played in the background.
My mother left us too soon. She died at the age of 47 from cancer. I would have liked to have known her better as an adult. Being young, there is a tendency to take many things for granted. I guess if she was here today I would like to tell her how much I loved her and appreciated her. Somehow, I think she already knew that.
She advised me how to handle bullies and even would go outside with me to play catch. When I first went to school at St. Margaret’s after we moved from Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, I was a little apprehensive. But then I would arrive home for lunch. My mom would greet me with a smile on her face and some sandwiches and soup.
Suddenly, the world became a better place. Mothers have a way of doing that.
Joe Boyle is the editor of The Reporter. He can be reached at email@example.com.