Being the sixth out of twelve children, in her early life I bet that Mom had few firsts. And I can imagine that growing up during the Great Depression in Jersey City, New Jersey with my grandmother squeezing an extra dime out of every nickel meant lots of hand-me-downs. I wonder what it was like for her to have her first new dress, her first new book, her first new anything that she could call her own.
Here I am, Mom's first born, talking about the firsts in her life. While I can only guess about the many firsts she encountered growing up, I know I should take the time to sit down and talk with her sisters when I travel back to New York in May. It would not only give me an opportunity to find out more about these "firsts" but also to get a better idea of what it must have been like to grow up in that place and with all those siblings.
There are many firsts that I remember from growing up:
- Mom's first job after my father left us. It was at the Sullivan County Community College and it was a secretarial position. Mom, like most girls, had focused on business in high school and knew how to type and take shorthand.
- Mom's first car during this same period. The yellow Datsun station wagon had "disappeared" and I assume it was repossessed. We soon had a used bright blue Toyota compact. I stress the word used - it was so rusted that we called it the "Flintstone car" since your legs might bust through the floorboards if you weren't careful.
- Mom's first home. We moved out of the apartment over on Weirk Avenue in Liberty out to a Lustron home over on Neversink Road. This was during the summer of 1976 and although Mom knew it needed a lot of work, it was all hers.
- Mom's first plane trip. I think it was 1982 to go see my brother who was graduating from Great Lakes Naval Base in Chicago. Mom did this all on her own (she usually would have me arrange such things) and she had a great trip.
- Mom's first trip to Hawaii. Mom and I went to Kauai in 1987 where we both had a blast. She met me in San Francisco and stayed over then we took off for a short trip to Hawaii.
- Mom's first grandchild. Mom was elated at the birth of Corwin Gallaway MacEntee in 1989 soon follwed by Connor, Jacqueline Rose and Patrick Thomas.
And I know there are some I just don't remember, some that are all too sad to think about and that I'd rather forget, and some that have yet to happen. One thing I am certain of is this: despite all these firsts, Mom never put herself first. It was always "her boys" - me and my brother Michael - that came first in almost everything she did. And for that I am ever grateful.