Therese (Kiessling) Bennett- Moms Don’t Get the Headlines They Deserve May 10, 2009Posted by claireblang in 2009 Season, Fun Stuff.
Tags: claire b lang, happy mother's day, NASCAR, Sirius NASCAR Radio, www.claireblang.com
My mother’s name did not make headlines, except when she was married. She has not been on the radio nor does she have a national following of people from all over the country who kindly tell her over the airwaves what a great job she has done in her chosen profession.
Unless you are part of the family or one of her friends or associates you might never even know who she is, what she is about, how brilliant she is or even what her name is. Therefore, today, I have listed my mother’s name in the headline above. I’d like to give Therese (Kiessling) Bennett that distinction today because she deserves it.
My mother was widowed with a three year old, a four year old and a five month old when she was very young. I can’t imagine how she even got through it. I have pictures of us when we were little in which, despite all she had on her plate, we three little girls were dressed in designer coats and hats that she sewed us herself for Easter. Mine was blue with a black velvet scoop collar. I remember every single outfit my mother ever sewed for me. From dresses to wear on trips or special occasions to the start of school outfit she made each of us, to prom dresses – we got to go pick out a pattern and the material and my mother would sew.
When I was in college I got very ill and had to leave school and go home during my second year.. I nearly died and it was my mother who nursed me carefully back to health. She received no award, was showered with no national acclaim. She stopped her life at that time to save mine. Her only payback was the knowledge inside that her daughter was safe and sound and back in college, healthy again.
My first radio job offer came at a time when women were not on the radio. Silly me, I graduated college and got my first job offer at a radio station in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Trouble is – I had my first serious boyfriend and wanted to give it all up for this boy . I did not want to move to Iowa, I was in love. I cried and cried and cried and cried (I was a bit dramatic) and my mother pushed me out of the nest forcefully. I thought I’d crash on the ground, never find love again, and like a bird that never could learn to fly would fail if I left and never live or love another day. What I did was fly, see, experience and grow, soaring into a tough and competitive world that would be my new career. Oh, and by the way, the love relationship with the boy fell through – he dumped me. My mother wanted me to do some of what she never had a chance to do.
My mother was way ahead of her time. She insisted on almost a nutritionist view of healthy eating. We grew up eating steamed vegetables, and low fat and whole wheat and non-processed foods long before it was in vogue and the nation turned to needing desperately to loose weight. We just grew up that way because of her strong views on nutrition and it’s paying priceless dividends years later. She never received a bonus or a raise for this or a compliment from the boss. Who even knew then she was so incredibly smart. Now, years later, the world is turning to what my mother professed was the right way to eat. It’s all I ever knew and I am in great shape and am extremely lucky.
My mother was a nurse in the emergency room in Milwaukee. She went on to become, like her grandmother who brought the first sewing machine from Germany to Wisconsin, a fine tailor. Her sewing and tailoring of everything from men’s suit to bridal gowns to formal dresses is beautiful work. In her later years, when my father closed his men’s clothing store she went out one day and went to Marshall Fields and applied as a tailor in their sewing department. She did this on her own without telling anyone. She was nervous because although she had tailored in my dad’s store for years and had done fine sewing all her life she had never been formally trained. She came back with a part time job and I was so amazed and proud of my mom for having the courage to do that. She is an incredible seamstress and they loved her work.
My mother is truthfully a brilliant woman. She is a gifted artist, she’s a championship level scrabble player, she can upholster furniture, cane chairs and the list goes on and on. She is cross country skis miles and miles in the winter and hikes or walks way beyond what I can handle every day. She’s in great shape and she’s beautiful. She looks 60 (twenty years younger than she age). Part of that is a lifetime of great nutrition. The other is something that I learned from her – that there is no age – it simply does not exist. She can out walk, out hike, out ski you and she doesn’t plan to stop. Age does not factor into her DNA.
My mother told me once that it doesn’t matter how old you get as long as you keep your body up and stay in great shape. She was right.
My mother is just now becoming even more fun than ever now that the weight of family responsibility is not so heavy. She’s great fun to be around. She’s an inspiration, a gifted woman and extremely smart. She cried when I thanked her the first time for naming me Claire (something that I’ve done a lot). Every time that someone in the garage says “Hey Claire,” and uses my name, I think how thankful I am that my mother gave me a special name.
One day my mother said to me that she really did not accomplish anything huge in her life. I told her that she indeed did. It took many generations of women to get to me breaking the door down in sports talk radio via NASCAR. My mother gave birth to me and together we knocked down that door. I will always be indebted to her for the way she raised me.
Today, my mother gets the headline. She’s the one who deserves it. Had she had the opportunities that I had she would have been a doctor perhaps or gone on to pursue something that she always wanted to do. Instead she focused on me and my siblings and I will be forever grateful.
Because of her I am all that I am today.
I wish everyone could know her. Maybe through this they will know a little more.