In Memory of My Mother…
Vera Irene Witt

by Gayle Brantuk

Mom absolutely loved children and always liked to tell me how thrilled she was when I was born in 1960, as she was with my sister Janet as well. Janet married and moved out of the house when I was 9, so to say mom's life revolved around me would not be an understatement.

When I said I was interested in becoming a Brownie, she signed me up the next day and signed herself up as my co-leader. We continued in Girl Scouts for about 10 more years with her either leading or co-leading whichever troop I was in. She organized camp-o-rees, jamborees, cookie sales, calendar sales and everything else involved. She was in her element. Mom was definitely a people-person.

Later, I played Bobby Sox softball and mom was quick to get involved as our team manager, a role that she was great in and all the girls loved her. She also volunteered for years at a local hospital - she was a very caring and giving woman, and also volunteered lots of time to the Methodist Church that we attended at the time.

It seems that wherever we went, Mom would run into someone she knew - it was uncanny. Mom "never met a stranger" and would talk to everyone… for this very shy little girl, this was often embarrassing. People were just attracted to Mom as she was very outgoing, energetic and happy.

Mom loved to travel - she just couldn't sit still. Dad and I went with her on a few vacations to Hawaii, Tahiti and up the coast of California, but the rest she did on her own. She went to Europe several times, cruised the Panama Canal twice, visited New Zealand and Australia and probably many more places. She usually traveled with one of her girlfriends or a family member.

Even when she wasn't traveling far away, she would drive her motorhome to gamble in Vegas, Laughlin or a local Indian Reservation. She loved to gamble and especially play Bingo. From the time I was a little girl, she usually played Bingo a couple of times a week at local Catholic churches. She was also an avid bowler and was always on one or more bowling leagues. Many of them were traveling leagues and they would go to Tahoe or Vegas for some of their league playoffs.

In the early days of Glen-L, mom used to do the banking for the business. She would take me with her and we would sometimes stop at A & W for fries and a root beer float. As was her nature, she became very good friends with the teller at the bank. She also was lifelong friends with two of the ladies that used to work here at Glen-L.

At some point when Mom's mind was failing (she had Alzheimer's for about the last 10 years or so), I kept remembering these little things that she taught me throughout life and decided to call them "mom-isms". Things like "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." She'd also frequently scold me if I ever said "I can't"- she would firmly state, "you can do anything if you just set your mind to it." She also taught me to live by the golden rule to treat people as you would want them to treat you. And, if we were camping, to always leave our campsite better than when we found it.

She was a hard worker. If someone needed assistance, she didn't wait to ask; she would just do whatever they needed. She saw a need and she met it. I'd like to be more like her in that way. When I was about 10 our friends, the Kasenburgs were moving back to California from Ohio. Mom knew they needed help with four small children, so she and I flew to Ohio and helped move them all the way back to California. They then stayed with us until they found a home of their own.

When I lived at home, I was always starting projects that I just didn't seem to complete and Mom would step in and finish them for me. Things such as a huge macramé project, knitting, sewing, you name it - she bailed me out time and time again. Sometimes, she'd even finish an outfit I'd been sewing so that I could wear it the next day to school. She taught me how to sew, crochet and knit although I must admit that without her to help me, I'm not very good with the latter two.

Mom would sit and crochet or knit while watching TV. She made Janet, Anke (my sister-in-law) and I all king-sized bedspreads from the thread doilies are made from (your wives will know what I'm talking about!). Each one took her 3 - 5 years to make! May not be a boat, but they are true craftsmanship. She also quilted, made these funky beaded eyeglass holder necklace things, and even tried her hand at painting (on canvas).

Mom was a remarkable woman. In high school, all my girl friends loved my mom because she was so much fun. When we would have a slumber party at our house, mom would be the one to drive us around to toilet paper houses (all in fun).

I am blessed to have the parents that I do and I sure miss my mom. Life won't be the same without her, but as she taught me, I will continue to live it to the best of my ability.

Thanks Mom . . . .

Born: Pawnee Rock Kansas, September 6, 1926
Passed: Downey, California, February 24, 2009