April is a bittersweet month for us. It is the time of year when the harsh winter weather is banished as mother earth wakes up and begins to bloom again. It is Easter time. It is the beginning of another baseball season. But it is also the month in which we lost two parents within three weeks in 2008. Lois’ mother and my dad both passed in that fateful April.
As the “Man from Plaid”, I am tasked with presenting a man’s point of view when it comes to the “opposite sex”. Previously, I’ve made a lot of the idea that the time for women is now. It is very clear that women are the leaders of tomorrow in business, politics, and all facets of society.
But that should not mean that there is no longer a place for women in the home and family structure. Women have long been the “glue” that has held many a family together. That is just another reason why they are so well equipped to hold the world together.
That’s where my mother-in-law comes in. I think it is safe to say that the vast majority of men will tell you that the most important women in their lives are their wife (or significant other), daughter(s), granddaughter(s) and mom (not always in that order). After that, there is probably some significant debate as to whether or not the mother-in-law is on the list.
In my case, there is no doubt about it. My mother-in-law is right there with the other important women in my life. If you’ll indulge me, I want to describe a woman who made a difference in the world without ever having been in the traditional workplace. In fact, she did it without even leaving her driveway!
She’s been gone for six years and one day as I type this.
Veronica Louise O’Connor was born in a farm house on Route 115 in Kankakee County, IL in July of 1929. She grew up on the farm and at age 18 married my father-in-law, Jim Borschnack in May of 1948. They moved into an apartment which had been carved out of the very same house in which she was born. My wife, Lois, was their first-born in August of 1949. There would be seven more children over the next 18 years. As the family grew the need for a bigger house was filled by building another house on the farm, sharing the same driveway.
She was known as Louise to everyone in the area and some called her “Easy”, reflecting her easy-going nature or “Weezy”, but as they grew older, her children affectionately referred to her as “the mother”.
Although she was very helpful to her husband with scheduling and appointments from home in his TV repair business, she never went to work for an outside employer. She was a professional mom.
She raised eight fine people. They never wanted to disappoint “the mother”, and indeed, they did not. Every one of them was an honor student at Herscher, IL High School. The two boys are CPA’s. Among the girls we have a business woman, teacher, registered nurse, farmer, and two computer programmer/analysts. Seven of them are married. The longest marriage is 44 years (ours) and the youngest has been married for 15 years. The other five are anywhere from 25-40 years. There are 26 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, all of whom are thriving.
On April 1, 2008, she died at home… at the very same address where she was born 78 years before. She never had another address. She never ventured out into the world. But don’t believe for one moment that her life was meaningless or unfulfilling. Sure, she was old-fashioned. She was a “stay-at-home mom”. She was a pillar of strength to her family. She didn’t venture out but she set eight great people out into the world and, so far, 30 more from them. She made a difference.
She’s still with us in so many ways. Probably the most significant way for me is that in which she influenced her oldest, my wife. Lois is so very much like her mother. Not only in her appearance, but also in her demeanor and her thought process. She is stable, solid, sincere, and just so very real in every way.
The life of Veronica Louise O’Connor Borschnack is proof that we don’t have to run General Motors, become the Prime Minister of England or the President of the United States to make a difference. Most often, a good life lived is multiplied… many times over.