Willena May Livingston Cummins Everett – May 13, 1932-Nov. 23, 2014
3 Willena’s in August 1989
Willena Rose, Willena Irene, Willena May
My Mom was my best friend long after my teenage friends started complaining that they couldn’t talk to their moms. I knew I could tell her anything, and she would understand. She didn’t say it often, but I knew she loved me and was proud of me.
Mom had an extraordinary love for animals, and I never saw one that didn’t trust her. When we lived in the apartment above Caruso’s Fruit Market, a wild alleycat had a litter of kittens right under our back step, because the only one in the world she trusted was my Mom.
Mom loved children and they loved her. We never knew who would be at our home when we walked in the door. One day I came home for lunch to find 12 of us sitting around the kitchen table eating Lipton soup and soda crackers. And she continued to babysit as many children as the law would allow, until the day she was no longer able to care for them.
She said I always “off in a corner with my nose in a book, especially when there is work to be done!” She told me I would ruin my eyes from reading by the light of the street lamp outside my bedroom window. But she never squelched my love of reading, and often bought me books from Holmes 5-and-dime store downtown.
Mom was the mistress of improvisation. I was 14 before I had my own room — a corner of the basement by the furnace. A bed set up on concrete blocks because the legs were broken… and a bookshelf made from the cabinet of an old TV that had the inner tubes removed. But I loved it, because Mom understood my heart, and had set it up for me.
She bought me a 3-year-old doll for Christmas the year my father died. We couldn’t afford it, but she knew I had my heart set on it. Nor could we afford the Brother portable typewriter she got me when I was 14. But that was Mom. She went out of her way to do anything she could for us kids.
Mom was 28 the day she called me in from the back yard to tell me my daddy had died. 28 years old, heart grieving, with three small children. She raised us alone until the following year, when a handsome young stranger from Plaster Rock NB moved in next door to board with Nita Robinson.
She was the one I called when my first husband lay dying in the hospital when I was 24. She helped me through the first weeks of widowhood, and didn’t try to talk me out of it when I moved 2400 miles away to attend Bible college in Alberta.
My birthday will never be the same again, for a special reason. I was born on Mother’s Day, so I made my mother a mother on Mother’s Day, just three days from her 21st birthday. It was fun every year to call my mom twice — it had to be twice, for she wouldn’t hear of combining the two days — on her birthday and on Mother’s Day — and say, “Hello, may I speak to Willena?” “Yes, this is Willena.” “So is this!” It was our little Willena-to-Willena private joke…
I miss you, Mom!