Esther McShea Manera

Honored by:Eileen and Morris Mericle
Brick location:K:26  map

Each of us, if we're lucky, has a special heroine, our mother. She may not have lit up the night sky or even lived a long time, but no one can deny the work, love, and effort that goes into raising a contributing member of society.

Esther, my mother, is one of the unsung heroes who seldom get their due. Her life was completely unremarkable--no trips, no degrees, no promotions--just a life of hard labor from the time she was 14 or so. She was withdrawn from school in 6th grade but she continued her lifelong love of learning by studying nights at home. She taught herself to read Spanish when she picked up a copy of DON QUIXOTE in the original at the local Salvation Army and then made another purchase of a Spanish dictionary. The first chapter took her a month but by the time she had finished that book she could read Spanish pretty well. Then she bought books on mathematics at the drug store and began working through them. She could do any crossword in half an hour.

My father died early, leaving her with a batch of children and no insurance. But she always found time to read to us and sing to us no matter how tired she was from her 10-hour-a day, 6-days-a-week job as a dishwasher at a local restaurant.

People as poor as we were don't usually have or expect markers on plazas. Esther was honest and polite and funny and kind. She never drank; she never cursed. Her children always came first. There are a million parents out there who fit into the same category. Is it right to call them "heroines”?

Esther's only advice to me was "Marry a smart man who can make you laugh." I did and the rest is history.

Submitted 11/12/13