Reflecting On Apple Pie and Mom’s Mansion in the Sky
A tribute to my mother, Loretta Dorothy Dietmeyer Cliff
Yesterday, on August 25, 2019, my mother, Loretta Dorothy Dietmeyer Cliff, would have been 104 earthly years old; and though I miss her presence here on earth, I find comfort knowing that she is celebrating nearly 19 years of being in heaven.
My mother often comes to mind in one way or another as I go about my days, but yesterday she came to mind a bit more as I remembered it would have been her birthday, and because I happened to be making an apple pie.
Mom loved homemade apple pies and often made them. In her later years she would often call me at work and say ” I just made an apple pie. Would you like to stop by after work and have a piece?”
Of course, she knew I would say “Yes” as her apple pie with its tasty crust was my favorite, especially when it was still warm, fresh out of the oven, ready to be placed in a bowl, covered with milk and eaten with a spoon. That was the way Mom and I enjoyed it best.
So, in keeping with the thoughts of Mom, I decided I would write this Tribute to her, on this day to remember her life, which wasn’t one of notoriety or fanfare, but one of quiet dedication to her family, whom she loved.
Although women were marching in New York, demanding the right to vote, and Ford Motor Company had just manufactured its 1 millionth Model T, things in Wadsworth, Illinois in 1915 remained pretty ordinary. You rose before dawn, worked or went to school, and you went to bed shortly after sunset. Not much time was spent socializing, and news from the outside world was limited as radios did not become readily available until the 1920’s and then not many people could afford them.
It was at this time that Loretta Dorothy Dietmeyer was born. Her arrival came in the fall at her parent’s home in a small country village about 50 miles north of Chicago, Illinois.
World War 1 was going on at the time and life was hard.
Loretta’s dad was a poor farmer trying to support his family of five as best as he could. Loretta’s mom spent her days caring for Loretta and her two siblings, cooking, preparing food for storage and making clothes by hand. There was no electricity or indoor plumbing, and travel was by horse and buggy.
In the coming years two more boys would be born to the family and life would get harder during the Great Depression of 1929.
As Loretta grew she attended a small one room school house quite a few miles from her home. She and her siblings had to walk several miles to and from school each day in all kinds of weather. There were no such things as school busses, cars or bikes, and often the harsh winters prohibited anyone from traveling anywhere. Loretta loved school and she did well in her studies, but after finishing 8th grade she had to quit because the family couldn’t afford to send her on to high school. She then went to live with her Aunt and Uncle on their nearby farm and did work for them for her room and board. Children often had to do that during the Depression time to help relieve the financial burdens of the parents who had big families. Loretta’s sister had already left a few years earlier to stay with another Aunt since she hadn’t done as well in school.
It was at this time that the family moved from the village to a home in the country. As the years went by Loretta’s dad had to go on public aid to support the family.
Before the Great Depression, Loretta’s dad would never have considered accepting help from the government, because people who received it had their names published in the newspapers and were looked down upon if they received aid, because welfare was considered a disgrace. Yet as a desperate last resort, her dad had to do it in order to feed his family. It was a very painful time for him and the family as they were very poor financially and were looked down upon socially.
Then, the government created a program to put Americans to work which was called “The Works Progress Administration” or (WPA) and Loretta’s dad got hired to work helping build roads in the area. The pay wasn’t great but at least he could say he was working instead of just receiving aid.
And, even though in 1930 President Hoover said, “Prosperity is just around the corner”, life for Loretta and her family continued to be difficult for many years, especially with the start of World War II in 1939.
When I met Loretta for the first time in 1944 she was 29 years old. She was the beautiful wife of Erling Cleremont Cliff who had been drafted by the Army because World War II was still going on. Loretta was already the mother of a curly headed little girl named Frances, who was 5 years old.
Loretta had such a wonderful smile I couldn’t help but like her and as the nurse put me into her arms and said “Here is your baby girl”, I was so glad God had picked someone as special as she to be my mother for I felt safe and loved.
“The moment a child is born,
the mother is also born.
She never existed before.
The woman existed,
but the mother, never.
A mother is something absolutely new.”
Every time I had a birthday I celebrated another year of life, and my mother celebrated another year of motherhood. That, to her was Mother’s Day. Those celebrations went on for 56 years and then she left me to go to her heavenly home.
I know Mom did go to her heavenly mansion, a place created just for her by Jesus, because I had the honor and blessing to lead her to the Christ I loved, and to pray the salvation prayer with her one evening in her kitchen after many times of discussing God, Jesus and salvation with her. I treasure and thank God for that moment in time when Loretta believed and received Jesus as her Lord and Savior and God allowed me to be present to witness it.
Truly, Mom did receive her “pie in the sky” reward and I look forward to sharing it with her there someday too.
Each year on my birthday as I thank God for another year, I also give thanks for my mother, and for the love and care she gave to me. I also take time to thank God for creating her, choosing her to be my mother, and calling her to Himself, for she was truly one of His wonderful works!
— Leona J. Atkinson