Billye Jean….

Beautiful…isn’t she….meet my mom, Billye.

She is the youngest of four daughters, born to Russian German immigrants. The dark almond shape eyes are from her father, Jacob, and most of us in the family have them. Interesting how those physical traits are passed down for generations.

If you have followed my blog, you know I have shared openly about my father’s alcoholism.  Because she has influenced me and my life, I wanted to introduce you to my mom.

Her mother, my Grandma Molly, was a firecracker!  She was under five feet tall and full of vim and vigor.  She raised four very strong daughters and I refer to all of them and my cousins as ….”The Wamboldt Women”.

My Grandpa Jacob died when my mom was 16. In his illness, she and Grandma Molly would split the days to care for him.  Grandma worked in the school kitchen half a day and then came home so my mom could go to school for the rest of the day.  Caretaking is one of my mom’s God-given gifts…even now she volunteers for a Hospice House near her home.

Most people may be surprised that my mom could play a doozie of a polka on the accordion.  That crazy instrument provided some fun memories for me as I was growing up.  To this day, whenever Gary and I circle the floor to a polka tune, I think of my mom.

Life with an alcoholic is indescribable.  My mom was the rock of our dysfunctional family. She worked a full time job so rent could be paid, food put on the table, and I could participate in school activities.  My dad worked also….but he drank a good portion of the income away.

But… let me back up a bit…

I was born 8 weeks early.  A little bit scary for an 18 year old wife and new mother.  As I’ve heard it told, I spent the first month of my life in the hospital in an incubator.  She was there every day.  I was not the healthiest baby or toddler.  Drug reactions, seizures, near death experiences, allergies and severe asthma.  Whew!   A lot for a young mother.

My dad began his decline into alcoholism when I started junior high school.  My mom tried to keep the home as “normal” as possible.  Looking back, I realize the courage and strength it took for her to survive in an impossible situation. She did all she knew to do.

The alcoholism finally took its toll on my parent’s marriage.  A divorce happened and my mom continued her life, for a time, as a single woman working multiple jobs to support herself.

She eventually met a gentleman who swept her off her feet and carried her all over the USA in a 5th wheel… building motels, doing volunteer construction work for churches, and insurance adjusting for catastrophic disaster areas.  Now retired, they make their home in Arkansas. 

The relationship with my mom has been a journey.  There have been detours, construction areas, and bumpy sections of the road.  Our individual faith has kept us working at our relationship as mother and daughter.  Most importantly, we keep moving towards one another.

When Gary looked at this picture, he thought it was me.  I have been called Billye many times in my life.  I consider it an honor to be her daughter and I am blessed to have her as my mother.