About my Mother, an Exceptional Woman
mother, Cecelia Martha McCluskey Bohne, was an exceptional woman
because she lived through a very difficult life and managed
superbly. She was the middle child born on December 6, 1912
to a poor family in Lawrence, Massachusetts. Her parents were
Annie LeBlanc and Dennis McCluskey. She had four sisters, Janet,
Irene, Bertha and Rita. She also had a brother who drowned when
he was only 9 years old. She once informed me that she sometimes
only had potatoes and carrots to eat for meals when she was
growing up; and her parents were only occasionally able to buy
meat for the family. Furthermore, she had four sisters and often
helped them with one thing or another. She worked in sweat shops
in Lawrence making shoes on old sewing machines, a very difficult
chore, even while raising a family. She raised 5 children mainly
by herself, while her husband worked long hours. Her five children
then went on to reward her with ten grandchildren, fourteen
great-grandchildren, and four great-great-grandchildren; the numbers have increased since I originally wrote this.
Her very first child was a still-born and this was very hard on her emotionally. Still she went on with her life, stayed with her husband in their marriage, had more children, and took good care of all of her children. Beyond that, she tended to think about everyone else before she thought of herself. She has always been generous to a fault. My parents lived in tenement houses in Lawrence, Massachusetts during the early years of their marriage. This courageous woman helped my father build an entire house in Methuen, Massachusetts before I was born. What is more, they did all the work by themselves. She even helped my dad in his small garden and cooked all our delicious meals from scratch. When my family lived in Methuen, she road the bus to and from her jobs in Lawrence every workday. She walked several blocks from our house on Russell Street to the bus stop in the morning and back again at the end of the day every day. She also helped my father build another house next to our family home, which they sold.
She was a devout Catholic. Each Sunday she would walk to St. Lucy's Church for Catholic mass. And she walked there on other special holy days also; it was about a half mile hike from our house to the church. She sang in the church choir for many, many years. She also taught Sunday school at the same church.
She got her first driver's license when she was 60 years old. She loved to go out, just about anywhere and just about any time. When I had my own car we would drive to the mall or to other shopping centers or sometimes we would drive to my sister Jacqui's house or to visit my mother's sisters.
She seemed to be always giving something to somebody; for instance, I remember on Fridays, on her paydays, she always brought some little treat home for me and my other siblings, sometimes a book, sometimes a toy, and sometimes something sweet to eat. She did this for me, and my other siblings before me; but I mostly remember the things for me. I would walk to the top of our street to meet her, especially on Fridays! Meanwhile she sewed our clothing, knitted sweaters and created other things for us with her hands. I remember her making a circle skirt for me when I was young with a cat (or a poodle) embroidered on the front (pictured above) - just like those 50's circle skirts one sees pictures of sometimes - I loved that skirt! She even sewed and knitted clothes for my dolls, including clothes for my small Barbie-like doll. My daughter, Erica, still has this doll and it still wears a sweater and skirt that my mother made.
After I was married, and had a child of my own, my mother would send me money if I needed it even though she didn't always have much herself. She would also sometimes send little things to my daughter.
My dear sweet
mother was 90 years old when she passed away in June of 2003.
She was awesome, had a big heart, and continued her role as
a remarkable woman enjoying the love and gratitude of her whole
family until the day she died.
Photo at the top is of me and my mother in the 50's - me dressed in a halloween outfit that she made.
I am adding this on March 5, 2010:
It was way too painful for quite some time to write more about my mother, especially about what I'm saying below.
When my mother was taking a turn for the worse in May and June of 2003, I flew to New Hampshire to spend time with her during her final days at the nursing home. At the time I didn't know that those were her final days. I went there for a couple of weeks and then extended my stay for another week, just in case. I remember leaning over her bed, holding her hand, reciting the "Hail Mary" and the "Our Father" prayers with her. At one point she said she couldn't say the rosary correctly so I told her to say them in whatever way she could, in whatever order she could. I told her, "Don't worry about it." I think she took that to heart. She was calling out certain family member's names who'd passed away previously during those last final days at times. I think she was seeing family members, including her "Papa," on the other side. I am a meditator so sometimes during those final days I sat and meditated with her and sent her white light. I think that helped her also. Little did I know during those days that I would be also staying for her funeral. The nursing home eventually put her on morphine to help ease the pain. She passed away on June 9, 2003 at about 2 o'clock in the morning. My nephew Stanley was with her at that time. My niece Alicia came into my room to wake me in the middle of the night to tell me the news. We went to the nursing home. My mother was buried in a cemetery in Methuen, Massachusetts a couple of days later. I still miss my mother a LOT. I believe I will do so for the remainder of my life.
All photos by me, my parents or other family members.
See other photos by clicking the "Photos" link below.
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