Mother’s Maiden Name

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Swanstrom was my mother’s maiden name.  Looking back into her childhood of old photos, memories from her stories, and my own remembrance, I know a few things. Her father was a carpenter and built the family house in Iowa Falls, down the street from the swinging bridge over the Iowa River. As a child she played there when the bridge would still swing. People would drown in that river. My mother learned to swim and how to be a junior lifeguard and a Girl Scout. She could name the wildflowers and learned to go without during the Great Depression. Her mother, Anna Hill, was a gardener so I like to think that in the summer there were fresh vegetables to eat and her mother made bread. I know because I can still see her in the kitchen kneading the dough on a huge table, the old gas stove hot and ready to take the loaves. There were lots of mouths to feed, a big family of thirteen children, same already gone away, some to Oregon and Texas, or the grave. Vera, my mother, was the youngest girl wedged between two brothers. I see her old photos of a tomboy, up a tree or doing sports, her doll rarely played with. I like to think that she knew of love and loss because at her burial site a man stood watching in the distance and never said a word.

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Mother’s Maiden Name

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