Lurene Legge Loofbourrow was different than my mother in lots of ways, but they shared a common generation and role.

My wife Mary’s mom and mine grew up without electricity, survived the Great Depression and embraced the lifestyle changes that followed World War II.

They were stay-at-home moms who sewed family clothes, cooked family meals and handled family finances.

They always wore dresses.

They washed the clothes, hung them out and ironed everything in sight.

They had paying jobs prior to marriage, but didn’t venture back into the workforce until their children were in high school.

When they returned to employment, they blossomed.

If their lost career years had been a sacrifice for them, they never let it show, at least not to Mary and me.

Both women gave freely of themselves, not just to their children, but to any friend in need. They had grown up in difficult times in which people had to count on each other.

Our mothers expected to be outlived by their robust husbands and were surprised by the rapid declines of their men. Both took the deaths of their husbands hard; but, like many women of their generation, they lived for more than a decade after losing their mates.

Mary lost her mom, Lurene, last week. At 95, Lurene remained fiercely independent. Confined to a wheelchair and suffering failing eyesight, she insisted on remaining in her home.

My mom, also in a wheelchair, chose a group home instead, enjoying the company of others from her generation.

It’s just one of the many ways the two were different.

My mom grew up in the piney woods, while Lurene lived her life on the plains.

Lurene traveled the world. My mom never boarded an airplane.

Lurene attributed part of her longevity to a whiskey sour every evening. My mom’s only experience with alcohol was once having a few sips of cherry bounce and finding herself tipsy.

Still, I think they would have gotten along fine, not just because of the periods through which they lived, but because of the roles they shared.

To Mary and me the most important of those roles was that of mother.

They dressed us every morning, often in clothes they’d sewn themselves.

They fed us breakfast. They made us lunch if we weren’t at school. They served us a family meal every evening.

They taught us a pretty good version of right and wrong.

They read to us. They baked us cookies. They played games with us.

When we were sick, they nursed us. When we were bad, they spanked us. When we had a problem, they listened.

Our moms made homes out of the houses in which we lived.

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