I’m choked up and can’t speak. Tears are in my eyes. There she is, my foster mother, walking into my house for dinner this week. She’s 95 years old, and she’s still stylishly dressed.
At that age, looks meant everything to me. My foster mother saw my disappointment. She didn’t have a lot of money, but she still told the optician, “Let’s get her the nicer pair. I’ll pay for the difference.”
Sacrifice. We never really know all the sacrifices our mothers make.
Marie Curie was widowed suddenly in 1906, when her husband Pierre was run over by a horse-drawn vehicle. Not only was Pierre her research partner and an important family breadwinner, but he was her greatest love.
Despite her numbing grief, she still had to provide for their two daughters, Irène and Ève. She assumed Pierre’s teaching position in the physics department at the University of Paris and kept her scientific research.
She rented a house in the suburbs of Paris that had a small yard for the children. Irène grew a garden and Ève hunted for her turtle in the grass. They had gymnastics equipment in the yard. But there was another cost, for it was another hour of commute to her laboratory when she was already extremely busy.
As Marie wrote to her friend while still mourning the death of her husband, “I want to bring up my children as well as possible, but even they cannot awake life in me.”
She did bring them up well. Irène was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 with her husband. Ève went on to write a loving biography about her mother.
No, we often don’t know the sacrifices mothers make. But sometimes we do. I’ll never forget the story of the glasses.