I don’t think I could ever completely talk about my mom or dad in one article and sum them up as mentors. That’s why in this edition I decided to choose my mom and Robert Frost as my next #ModernDayMentor recipients for 2020. I know that modern times dictate that I should stick with the internet gurus but, we wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for our parents and the role models that they wanted us to look up to as kids.
My parents were very careful with the entertainment I was able to consume including written. For example, I am from the era of the Goosebumps series but, I never read them because they were from the wrong genre. That’s okay because I loved the Box Car Kids and the Ramona series. Without them I don’t know where I would be. I loved and still love poetry and that started with Robert Frost.
His most famous poem is the one that sticks with me most and rings true when I listen to songs like Good Riddance by Green Day which gives the same idea as The Road Not Taken and then there’s Mending Wall where we are reminded at the end that “good fences make good neighbors”.
When I think of my mom and Robert Frost I think of the cold winter. Why? Well, I’m from Buffalo and frost along with frostbite is a very real concern during the winter. My mom loved taking us kids to Niagara Falls so that my sister and I and our cousins could throw the very large icicles over the edge and watch them bash their way to the bottom. She (and my dad when he was able to) bundled us up and took us sledding with our friends and she would always try to get me to keep my hat and gloves on long enough to ensure no frostbite was taking place.
She is more of a free, creative thinker than my dad so I equate my love for poetry and writers like Frost and Edgar Allen Poe to her. My dad was more of a Shakespere and history buff. She encouraged me to write as I wanted and do the best I could in English class growing up. She would even have me write in those cursive writing books for kids of the 80s and 90s that had the dotted line to write on. She struggled so much to get my handwriting to be legible. LOL. And that struggle still continues to this day!
My mom was born in 1959 in Astoria, New York. She was young when my grandparents decided it would be best to leave the city and they made their way to a small town in Western New York where she spent the rest of her childhood along with her sister Elizabeth. The only thing that stuck out in the country was my grandpa’s very Italian nose and he was quite the hunk so he was often mistaken for being a man of the mafia even though he was a man of God by then. By the time they moved my grandparents had decided to become Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were the second two baptized in the Organization after my great grand-mother.
Being a Jehovah’s Witness changed my mom’s life and it directly involved my life since she grew up with my dad in the same congregation. His parents studied the Bible with my mom’s parents and that is how they met. If it hadn’t been for my grandma June starting to study with my grandma Dorothy then I wouldn’t exist. LOL. I’ve thought about that many times because it shows me just how insignificant and significant life can be!
I mean, in that study the mom’s did not know, nor believe that their kids would grow up, fall in love and then raise a family together. In that moment they were simply two women that had a common interest, the Bible. You see by then my grandma and grandpa Maas had already lost a baby to miscarriage and one to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) so they were grieving and didn’t understand the Bible or the God that could allow these things to happen.
My grandma and grandpa Viccari did the best they could and eventually the Maas’ were baptized around the time my dad was about 9 or 10. From there my parents would play with the other kids in the Kingdom Hall and as their focus grew to adult things such as paying bills, buying cars, getting married and continuing to spread the Word as best they could, my parents fell in love. They were what Witnesses call Pioneers back then and that was their common thread besides romantic love. For the first 4 years they were volunteering 90+ hours a month since that was the hourly requirement to be a Pioneer back then and they loved it.
The stories they told my sister and I of living in the basement of a Kingdom Hall and then the first couple of small and low cost apartments they had before having my sister are great. They were married for 4 years before Amanda came along and I was another 4 years off from that. My parents were 28/29 when they had me so by then their frontal lobes were fully developed. LOL They had decided before having kids that they would raise them like Timothy’s mom did (from the Bible) which was to start from infancy on.
For them that meant, reading the Bible and Bible Stories to my sister and I while we were still in the womb. They played music so that we could listen and as we grew we were taught how to attend public meetings and sit quietly from an early age. At that time, when I was a child, Witnesses met 3 times a week for meetings and other days for Service (a.k.a. Preaching the Bible to neighbors and knocking on strangers’ doors).
As this article shows though, my parents did not expect nor wish us to only have Witness role models. They wanted us to look up to people that were older than us that had good principles and morals. I learned about Robert Frost in school and his words danced off the pages to me so he was my first true love. I can still echo his words and smell the old school smell when I first started learning about him.
My last thought is this, thank you mom for being a heroine in my life. You guided me and molded me to become the woman I am today. I may not be doing everything the way you would want me to but, I know you’re proud of the work I’m setting out to do. You may not understand it but, you love me just the same. Thank you for being a loving mom and you are my sunshine to infinity and beyond. ☀️☀️☀️
Written by: Brittany Maas
Photos from #BrittsPhotoJournal