|Paul J. Consbruck
Our mother dedicated her life to the honorable vocation of professional homemaker, giving up what was surely to be a successful career as a teacher, author and administrator. The youngest child of the first Byrnes generation to have college graduates, Mom began her post-graduate studies when she met and soon married Dad.
She made the choice to dedicate her life full-time to raising her large family and serving her God and society by doing it to the best of her ability. Mom always believed that many of the problems in society began from a poor home environment and she could best contribute to this world by ensuring that her five sons benefited from the best home possible, beginning with each son's first day in the cradle and continuing on to those exciting days when a son returns home to visit with a cradle-rocking child of his own.
Mom was an educator. In the early school years of her sons, she became a "permanent" favorite substitute teacher throughout the year, making sure that our early education covered everything from the basic four food groups to delivering oral book reports with confidence. She taught us first to respect ourselves, think for ourselves, to respect each other and to each seek God's plan for us on this Earth. The best teaching is through example and Mom was the perfect role model.
Her life of tireless service to her family is the perfect example of Jesus' advice "If anyone wishes to rank first, he must first remain the last one of all and the servant of all. Whoever welcomes a child such as this for My sake welcomes Me. And whoever welcomes Me welcomes not Me but Him who sent Me." Mark 9 35-37.
Mom believed in the power of regular, nutritious, home-cooked meals and family routines. We were fortunate as youngsters to be able to walk home from school for lunch; discuss how the school day was going, what our favorite teacher or not-so-favorite classmate had done that day and return that afternoon refreshed and rested, sometimes wearing a fresh clean white T-shirt to finish off the afternoon, for those noon-time temperatures and sudden down-pours in the Venezuelan tropics were brutal at times.
Living in Venezuela provided many additional challenges to being the family matriarch, but Mom managed to break through the language barriers to get some of the best cuts of meat or the freshest fruit to put on the family table. As we progressed through the school years, Mom showed us how to outline chapters to study for tests, improved our methods for writing book reports and made suggestions for special projects.
She became taxi driver to middle school, high school and college-age boys all in the same year. She was pivotal in establishing some family stability during these challenging years when we returned to the USA while Dad continued to work abroad. Mom was a trusted advisor as we steered our way through the perilous waters of the college years, graduation and life in the real world. She continues to counsel and support all of us as we experience career changes in the unstable 90's and start our own families.
Mom has become a trusted and loving grandmother to our children, relating to a two-year old as easily as she does to a ninety- year old. Her thoughtfulness is manifested in buying clothes for her children and grandchildren at bargains that would put most smart shoppers to shame. Homecomings are true homecomings thanks to Mom. We feel welcome and at ease in her presence. She can bring a sense of calm and order to the most chaotic of situations. Her kitchen sees little rest and many visitors! Anyone who has entered her home has entered her heart: her kitchen. For home is where her heart is and you cannot enter her home without entering her kitchen to be treated to the freshest baked cinnamon rolls, bread, homemade soup, chocolate chip cookies or homemade pie.
Anyone who has entered her home has left her home as a kinder person. For they have been to her home, her kitchen, her heart of kindness. Her kitchen table holds the memories: the kitchen table is where any wayward traveler could always sit down to the finest home-cooked meal on the shortest notice, it is where the young high school son had cried all night for not making the first-string baseball team, it is where the young high school son sat with his first sweetheart to meet "Mom" for the first time and it is where Mom and Dad used to sit with their five young school-age sons to discuss the future after dinner at night to hear those simple words of wisdom "if you guys could just find something where you could all work together you could make a fortune."
"Mom" is synonymous with "home" synonymous with "the heart." Betty Byrnes Consbruck: Professional Homemaker, Teacher, Advisor, Author, Volunteer and Loving Mother of Five Boys who taught us the true meaning of the words, "I love you."
Loving Mother of Five