Let me introduce you to Catherine Ann Becker Mellen.
She was born August 24, 1927, to Joe and Josephine Becker in Montgomery, Iowa. Her father owned the local bank with his brother. Her mother graduated from college, quite an achievement for the times. My grandparents', her parents', married life started with a lifestyle that was quite affluent for the area. Catherine, better known as Kate to everyone, had an older brother, Patrick Nicholas, called Pat. All was well until the Depression hit and her parents lost the bank and their farms. Her parents worked very hard to survive those years. The depression took everything they had but their home. They really worked hard for their whole lives. A part of her father's spirit was lost in the Depression. Fortunately, his wife Josephine was very strong willed and her strength really carried them through their life together. There is no doubt my own mother's strength came from her.
Catherine Becker Mellen is my mother. I am honoring her because she is one of my heroes and also because it is right. She has done so much in her life. She really does belong in this Plaza of Heroines.
A bit more history.... My mother Kate grew up in Boone, Iowa. There, she graduated from high school at the age of sixteen. Can you imagine starting college at sixteen? She did. Her parents moved to Ames, Iowa, during Kate and Pat's college years. She graduated in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in home economics. She was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority. I think those were happy years for my mother at Iowa State.
Upon graduation, she moved to Omaha, Nebraska. She worked for a company that had her promoting the latest and newly invented home appliances. She toured through towns in Iowa and Nebraska giving cooking schools to auditoriums full of white-gloved, experienced women. Can you imagine a twenty-year old doing this? So young and no experience. She was quite a success, I bet. I bet they all listened with great enthusiasm. This doesn’t surprise me. She can pull almost anything off. She is a lady of many talents. I guess I was on her TV show a few times but too small to remember.
She met my father, Floyd F. Mellen, in Omaha and they were married April 15, 1950, income tax day. So anniversary celebrations were always twofold. Celebrate first and then drop their income tax returns off at the post office before the midnight deadline .... and so began an adventure together that was full of forty-five years of experiences and remembrances. In those early years, eight children were brought into this world through Kate and Floyd. No doubt God realized their strength and gave them eight to nurture for him. My parents were very good companions and partners. They really had fun together building their family and fortune.
Forty-five years of so many events..... yes, some struggle, but they are both very strong. They could move mountains. My father died in this life this July 1995. A huge void in our family and especially for my mother.... but so many memories. My parents' life together was very full. They are both fortunate. They were blessed.
Since, Mom, this is for you, I am going to switch from writing about you to writing to you!
What does a daughter say to her mother who gave her life and everything within her power that she could? What do you say to the mother who was always my best supporter and coach, who told me I could do anything in the world I wanted to? What can I say to the one who showed me how to fight for the things that are important to me and to never give up? What can I say to you, Mother, whose own gift of strength and perseverance was passed from you to me? What can I say to you, Mother, who tried to give me everything you never had? What can I say to you for giving me the importance of knowing God? What can I say to you, who struggled and worked so hard as I do with facing your own way in motherhood?
........ Definitely in unfamiliar territory with no previous experience and every situation new? What can I say to you, the one who taught me to love snow? Oh, those early rides in the wooden station wagon....somehow when others would stay in because of snow we would happily go out! What do I say to the mother who taught me to have fun.... and to celebrate? What do I say to you, the one who gave me physical strength, good health, and physical attractiveness? What can I say to you, Mom, when you have tried so hard and given 100% effort to everything you have done for me?
Well, Mom, really there are no words large enough to express my appreciation for you. Without you, I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am everything you have made me. I love my whole life from birth to now. Every part has been so good, even my struggles. I am strong inside and know what I want in life. I know my direction and can really make it on my own. Congratulations, Mom.
And so, dear Mother, with heartfelt words, thank you for everything. Where ever we are, we'll always be together. Our love for each other is great and truly binds us. A daughter's love for her mother is eternal. Isn't it wonderful, Mom?
I honor you and love you dearly....always in my heart, your second daughter.