Gloria A. Byerley considered herself a stay-at-home mom who didn't stay at home a lot. She was involved in church, clubs and organizations, and traveled the world with her late husband, Delbert, once their children were grown.
When she was at home, she loved to draw and decorate.
“Mother is a wonderful artist,” said Byerley's daughter, Jennifer Keltsch, 59, the eldest of Byerley's three children. “But she was not the best housekeeper. She made us kids do that,” Keltsch joked.
“You poor child. You poor, poor child,” Byerley countered.
Sunday is Mother's Day. But for Keltsch and many other adult children of aging parents, spending time with Mom is an almost everyday occurrence.
Starting a family
Byerley, 80, took her job as mother seriously. After graduating from North Side High School, Byerley married at age 21 when her beau came home from military service. The couple built a home in Arcola and started their family. She did all of the traditional mothering chores like cooking and playing taxi cab.
“She took us to all of our activities. She took us to town a lot, and we spent a lot of time together with me spending her money,” Keltsch said, laughing. “She also sewed and made a lot of our clothes. She was always there for us.”
Now daughter is there for mother. Most days every week, Keltsch stops by the Heritage Park retirement community to take her mother to appointments or to drop off something she may want or need, and she often drops in just to talk. The two visit other Heritage Park residents. This helps her mother stay active.
“We don't get to do the things we used to do together, but it's made us closer,” Keltsch said. “She's taught me what's important.”
It is this type of dedication that makes Mother's Day seem like every day for mother and daughter.
As Mother's Day is celebrated worldwide this weekend, the ways of giving honor to mothers and to women who act as mothers are as varied as the imagination. But of all the possible ways of showing appreciation, elderly mothers and their aging adult children say forget all the flowers and gift-giving. They are happiest just spending time together.
Byerley's son, Jeffrey, 57, visits three to four days a week. Her youngest, daughter Jeanette Zollinger, 50, is there every Sunday and brings lunch. Keltsch is a 10-minute walk away and is there almost daily. All of the children will be there on Mother's Day.
Byerley always gave unconditional love and discipline. She was a teacher and a motivator. She was a confidante and advisor. She was family-centered and loving.
“Family is what's important,” Keltsch said. “That's what my mother taught me.”