Saturday, May 9, 2009

TODAY'S FLOWERS ~ 25 Mothers' Day

This post is for Mothers everywhere, but
particularly in remembrance of my own.

Born in 1898 in Latvia, under the rule of the Czar of
all the Russias, her mother died soon after her birth.
Her father unable to look after a baby as well as her
8 year old brother, gave her up to a childless couple.
Her stepfather was kind, her stepmother longed to adopt
one of the numerous brood of her sister's who would not
part with any of them.
She experiencd the peasant's revolt and famine of 1905,
and seeking an education forced her way into a highschool,
then a totally male province, by travelling to St.Petersburg
and applying to the Minister for Education for special
permission for herself and her friend to study in Pskov where,
in 1917 during the Russian Revolutin, the Czar's family in a
cattle truck were parked for a week at a railway siding.

Mother financed her schooling by making lace and tutoring.
Sometimes she was lucky enough to get a meal when tutoring.

During the first world war epidemic cholera and typhoid
fever swept war ravaged Europe. Both step-parents died
of cholera. Mother succumbed to both diseases and some-
how survived them. She went to university in Riga and
read philosophy and science and shortly after the war met
a dashing doctor just returned from a field hospital. They
married and over a period of 16 years, had five children.

Latvia gained her freedom from Russia and became a republic.
Times during the 20's and 30's were tough and they both
worked hard at a number of occupations including farming
and keeping a general store which did not work out so well
since my mother had a generous hand with the very poor.

Both parents wrote poetry and were the centre of
a group of artists, musicians and literary intellectuals.
The eldest daughter died at 3 of dysintery - there
were no anti-biotics at the time.
In 1940 the Russians marched in and purged the country
of state employees and intellectuals and shipped them to
Siberia, my father among them.
Mother became our sole support. I was 4 years old at the
time. Since she had a command of 5 languages, mother
worked shifts at the international telephone exchange.
How she did it, I don't know, somehow she was always
there for us, wrapping us in warmed blankets after our
baths, cooking delicious meals, providing clean clothes and
enfolding us in her love at all times.

Fortunes of war changing, the Germans now marched in and
another purge followed, this time of Jews and communists.

The population of our little country kept dramatically
My elder brother was now in the Latvian Regiment of the
German Army fighting the Russians, this was a big worry
for mother as he was wounded a number of times, the second
time loosing a lung and some ribs, she travelled to the hospital
in Lithuania to be by his side. As soon as he was on his feet, he
was sent back to the front, young men in war are expendable,
those making wars never experience the hell of the front lines.

In August 1944 with the advance of the Russian front, it was
time for the remnants of our family to flee from certain death
or deportation if we stayed. We had two hours to pack and left
with what we could carry on the last train in a cattle truck to
Germany, at the time the lesser of two evils.

The saga of hardships endured as aliens in a crumbling Germany,
being bombed and shot at by the Allies, surviving the two year
famine and fear of being sent back to certain death are a tale by

Prospects for us in Europe were non-existent, so once again it
meant leaving everything we knew behind and emigrating.
Australia was the only country willing to take us, so another
language and other customs to learn. Starting anew with nothing,
Living three to a room with shared kitchenette and bath until
we managed to buy a shared house and later our own.
I went to school, and later university but mother slaved at
menial work behind a sewing machine to make it all possible.

Mother was my rock, my haven, the love I could always
rely upon, she tought me to cook and sew, to read and enjoy
music and to garden. We had no roof over our heads, but we
managed to see the operas standing at the back of the gods,
behind the seats of the dress circle at the very top of the theatre.
The same with the ballet. We haunted the Art Gallery and
Museum on Sundays, the Parks and Botanical Gardens.

Mother was the most non-judgemental person I know, she
guided us with tact and taught us her values by example,
never forcing her views on us but making us think and come
to our own conclusions.

Mother left us 21 years ago, but to this day those who even
briefly knew her, still speak of her often and with deep
affection, and even my grandchildren who never experienced
her presence often say "Oma would have been proud of these!",
be they a clutch of eggs from the hen-house or a batch of perfect
yeast cakes from the oven or her eldest great-granddaughter's
distinctions in mathematics.
Mother was a remarkable woman, she could as easily dash off
a sonnet as mend a rent in your party dress or your broken heart.

All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Click on the Logo at right to see many more flowers.

Thanks to Luiz Santilly Jr. for creating this meme and
to those who help to keep it going.


  1. This is the most beautiful, moving and touching tribute to a mother that I've ever read, Arija. How very blessed you were to have such a wonderful mother and to have such beautiful memories that have to ease the horror of many of them. I was moved to tears and want to thank you so much for sharing this tribute along with the exquisite photos! Have a very beautiful Mother's Day!

  2. Your mother is certainly deserving of such a beautiful tribute. What a brave, brilliant and interesting person. A beautiful post.

    Have a wonderful mother's day, Arija.

  3. What a beautiful tribute to your Mother.The flowers are pretty.

  4. I just read the life story of a saint, an angel, an intellectual, a survivor, an art enthusiaist, a polyglot, an honorable woman, I can go on and on and my words are just a feeble attempt to render worthy honor to a great woman that was your mother. This world is a better place because of your mother. I am sure if they had the chance to meet each other, she and my mother would have found common ground but since it was not so, I shall satisfy myself with the knowledge that I am privileged to know her daughter, call you my friend especially at a time when I needed one. Arija, you have a beautiful, honorable and admirable family. Long live our mothers in out hearts.

  5. A loving tribute to a woman who was all a mother should be.

  6. Arija, your story brings tears to my eyes. So beautifully said. How very fortunate to have a Mother so strong and supportive in such difficult times.

    Happy Mothers' Day to you and the generations before and after.

  7. Beautiful post of a remarkable woman! Today we don't know the hardships that people endured in the first half of the 20th century. Of course ther are places today whre that struggle is still on going, where governments suppress and war is constant. Your Mom was an unusually strong woman. And your flowers are gorgeous.

  8. Sylvia sent me to your blog and I am absolutely in awe of your mother and of you. What an incredible story of your wonderful mother's life.

  9. Just beautiful. I came via the gorgeous Sylvia's blog. I live in Australia too. Enjoy your Mother's Day.

  10. Hi Arija,

    Such coincidence, my mum died 21 years ago.

    You wrote a beautiful story of you mum.

    Ann :)

  11. Arija, what a moving tribute. Your mother was truly a remarkable individual, beautiful through and through. This was lovely to read.

    Your flowers are stunning as well. I hope you have a very loving and wonderful Mother's Day.

  12. You will enjoy coming by sea. There are cruises. It is so romantic going by sea these days.

    Sometimes , I wish we don't fly so much. I wish we can go a ship trip. My dad in the 1950s travelled to London in a P & O, and it was so good. Alas, my husband doesn't have the patience.

    You must let me know if you are coming got Auckland. If I am free, I will take you to Western Springs and the Winter Gardens.


  13. Thank you Arija for this moving and touching tribute to your mother. Have a wonderful mother's day!

  14. My goodness, what a remarkable woman your mother was! You have every reason to be proud of her and to write this wonderful tribute of her and share it. You will always carry her memory in your heart and her strength in everything you do. Happy Mother's Day!

  15. We have our memories of our mom to bring with us as long as we live. A beautiful tribute to our moms and for all the moms out there. Great flowers.

  16. Arija! What a great tribute to your mum! She had experienced so much in life and you must have inherited the same kind of strength
    and determination to survive. You have had an eventful life! Thanks for sharing this! Your photos are very suitable for Mother's Day.

  17. Beautifully written, Ariji. The endurance of the human heart is amazing. Your mother's story and your own touches my heart. Enjoy your day!

  18. Arija: Wonderful flowers for your Mother's Day post, loved the rose photo.

  19. Dear Arija,
    I was so relieved to read that your mother saw you grow into adulthood and becoming yourself a mother. She could not have wished for a better human being than she brought up in you, and I am sure anybody else who had the blessing of growing up under her Fittichen (wings).
    Thank you for sharing the memories of your mother with us.
    Wishing you a happy Mother's Day,
    with love,

  20. A deeply moving story about an incredible person - thank you for sharing her with us.

  21. What a wonderful mother you have! What a fabulous history--so filled with both joy and pathos. This is a beautiful tribute which moved my heart very deeply.

    Thank you.

  22. Oh Arija x
    Thank you for sharing your memories of your mother with us. This has really touched my heart.

  23. So touching, a very moving tribute to your mother. Thank you for sharing this with us. Now your mother lives in all our hearts that you have touched with your writing. Writing is such a powerful method to bring things alive, even more so than photoes. Photoes show the surface, words reveal the inner self, or at least, part of it.

  24. You have told us a highly personal story - a story that at the same time is the history of Europe for 50 years. It couldn't have been easy, but you have done agreat job. Your mother deserves all the flowers that are.

  25. My dear Arija, what a touching, loving and beautiful tribute to your mom. Very moving and just wonderful. If you are just near me, I'd give you my hugs and kisses.

  26. WOW
    What a live story! Mother is proud of you!
    Wishing you a happy day :)

  27. Beautiful tribute to your mother. I love the roses and the last photo.

  28. What beautiful shots of those lovely flowers and what a wonderful dedication to your mom. Happy Mother's Day!

  29. this is such a beautiful story. Your mom sounds like a very special person.

  30. This a wonderful Mother's Day post Arija. Your mother was a rock and the epitome of motherhood and strength. You have all endured so much. I can tell by your mother's talents that you received some of her poetic and creatitve gifts as well. Thank you for sharing this very emotional piece. I hope you have a wonderful Mother's Day.

  31. Beautiful pictures and a heartwarming tribute to a remarkable woman. Thank you for sharing!

  32. A beautiful tribute and stunning flower photos. What times she lived through.

  33. wow... I enjoyed this post so much, it was like reading a chapter of a book that you don't want to stop reading, what an interesting family history.

  34. Very moving and touching tribute to a remarkable mother.

    beautiful flowers too.

  35. Arija: Not only great flower photos but a story that can touch your heart, wonderfully told.

  36. Arija: A beautiful tribute to your strong mother with a survival spirit..the world misses her presence..but her spirit I can see is still with you now and forever!
    Wishing you a Mother's Day filled with the love of your family and special memories of your own mother's love! hugs aNNa
    *My TF post is now up for viewing.*

  37. You have given tribute to your mother in the most loving manner. Excellent snaps.

  38. Very heart touching story of your brave mother. She is the best mother that you could have ever asked for. Amazing snaps of roses in this beautiful post.

  39. So beautiful you write about your mother - you are happy woman to have had so strong and bigheartet mom. And beautiful flowers to her:)

  40. Labdien Arija...such a moving tribute...what hardships and trials all these very brave people endured at that time...and to come to a country and start all over again. This made me think of my own Mother and Grandmother and family leaving Latvia in very similar circumstances...with what they had and by foot to Germany.
    Thank you for sharing this...
    I hope you had a lovely Mothers Day ♥

  41. This is a great, loving tribute to your mother !
    It must have been a very wonderful person !

    Have a great day !

  42. so beautiful photos and flowers!
    have a nice week ;)

  43. that's a very beautiful story of a strong and loving woman, thanks for sharing it! I was touched!

  44. Dear Arija. This piece of your family's history makes me speechless. I can only bow my head in honor of such a remarkable woman. One of the true heroes of our time. To overcome such hardships and difficulties lasting for century after another and yet manage not only to stay afloat but keep and care for her family too without breaking and always maintaining a humble outlook on life and a stubborn stride for the better is just so very amazing. She must have been such a blessing for you and I just cannot comprehend how someone can endure such a lot of sorrow without breaking down. This is a story of the most extraordinary kind of courage I've heard in a very very long time. These gentle flowers are a fitting tribute to a real life hero of gigantic proportions. She had such strenght of character that is truly rare to find. It seems to have rubbed of on you too.

    Bless you and the memory of your mother

  45. Beautiful tribute to your mother, Arija!!! What a courageous and strong woman! You ARE definitely a product of her teachings and way of approaching life. You share the light.

  46. What a lovely tribute to a remarkable woman.

  47. Your story has moved me so deeply. A very generous gesture on your part to impart us your most vivid recollection of your past life and a loving tribute to your dear Mother. Mothers are irreplaceable angels. This brought tears to my eyes because I can relate to yours. Beautiful treasure, beautiful heritage! Thanks Arija for sharing. And those beautiful flowers from your garden too!

    Happy Mother's Day to YOU!

  48. What a lovely tribute to your mom...
    Roses are my favorit flower and yours are gorgeous...
    Thanks for sharing and for visiting me,and for the nice comment too...
    Happy mother's day...

  49. Wow! It was something difficult for me to read everything you wrote because of my bad english, but I'm sincerely emotionated. Your mother, wherever she is, should be very proud of you, as you certainly is proud of her.

    Hope you had a happy mother's day.

    (Sorry about my english, I wish you have understand what I entended to say)

  50. I hav been a bit confused this Flower meme, because mothers day in Norway is in february! Seems the rest of the world has it in May!

    Wonderful tribute to you mother! Both your words and your beautiful flowers!

    Thanks for stopping by!

  51. Great tribute to your mother. She must have been truly amazing with tons of energy!

  52. What a very tender and beautiful story. I wish everyone could read this so that hearts could be touched as was mine.

  53. Your mother was an amazing women. She just kept on going and finally brought you all to a new country and new life. Hope the world will never go back to that dark old days.

  54. Your flower photos are really great. I love those roses, white and pink; they are all really gorgeous. Lovely pansies make me smile because they look like smiling at me. Beautiful post!
    You wrote a beautiful and touching story of your mum.

  55. Poignant tribute to your mother accompanied by gloriously beautiful blossoms.
    Hugs and blessings,

  56. A loving tribute to your mother. A belated Happy Mother's Day and thank you so much for sharing this incredible story. I am going back to read it again.

  57. Wow, that is an increible story of an incredible woman, you must be very proud of her.I love the last lines 'she could as easily dash off a sonnet as mend a rent in your party dress or your broken heart.- Beautiful.Ps. Did you ever hear from your father again?

  58. Arija what a truly amazing story. Have you ever considered writing the story of your mothers life as a book? It is a tale that should be told, I feel very privileged to have read your post, thankyou.

  59. My last name is Sidlauskas and my father is probably around your age. The story you retell reminds me a little of my father's parents.

    They left in a flurry to Germany as well. My dad's sister happened to be sponsored by a Scottish lady in Toronto who helped her get her Social work degree which allowed her to sponsor my father and his parents.

    His oldest sister stayed behind to fight n the underground against the Russians but was caught and spent 25 years in Siberia.

    It's amazing how the peoples of that region are found all over the world now. I never got to know my grandmother or grandfather, both passed away when I was an infant.

    I truly enjoyed reading you retelling that story.



  60. nice post about my grandmother...might add that MY mother is pretty spiffing too...

  61. I am new to your blog so I scrolled down out of curiosity and admiring your beautiful photography. I am so glad I did, I found your wonderful post. What a beautiful tribute to your mother, I am very moved. Precious.


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