As I celebrate Mother's Day with my wonderful family, I reflect on special times and past memories of my mom, Hazel Mullen. I am always reminded of her kindness, generosity, resilience, tenacity, and poise. My mother is what motivated me to move forward with my work in so many areas.
Like many individuals of her time, she sacrificed, worked hard, and put the needs of others first throughout her life. She put off and was inevitably unable to complete college due to the needs of her family. She made (and kept ) a promise to her mother on her death bed at the age of 14 that she would care for her family and ensure that they were all set on their paths before pursuing her dreams and life. She was selfless in her endeavors. Her father was a disabled veteran and limited in many ways, so she was strongly relied upon as the head of the family at a young age. On Sundays, after church she made clothing for her siblings, ensured everyone participated in cleaning the home and minding the garden, canned fruits and vegetables, prepared meals for the week, helped with school work, putting hers last, and covered all needed areas for her family. At a young age she learned to cope and worked hard to make ends meet! She suffered through wage deficits working a series of minimum wage jobs with rarely time off and of course no sick leave. She worked many jobs in her youth - teaching dance, ice skating (was in the ice capades at one point), doing modeling, pageants (was asked to be Ms. Texas), retail sales, and more. At one point she even converting garage units on their property to small apartments to bring in revenue for her family during very difficult times. As a result she learned - plumbing, carpentry, sewing, and many other skills. In her 30's , before finally getting married, she worked her way up and became an efficiency expert for Ponds; becoming a truly valued part of their management team.
My mom over the years was very successful and accumulated a great deal of wealth over her lifetime, but was always humble, thankful, modest, and generous. She never looked back on the bad times with regret and commented often on how all our experiences make us who we are as a person. She struggled at times, but was known for always appreciating life and those who loved her. She took notice of the little things always! I recall on a daily basis my mom stopping me and saying, "take a moment to look at those tress, or those flowers, or how blue the sky is. Always take time to notice the joy around you." She took nothing in life for granted and lived life always to the fullest and with appreciation!
As she raised me, she expressed how grateful she was that I would never have to live through the struggles that she had endured. She supported me in good times and in bad and never judged. One of her happiest moments was seeing me graduate from college and then go on to receive other graduate degrees.
The challenges my mother endured and moved past are again what motivates me each day to do what I do- to work hard, advocate for others, make a difference in whatever way possible, foster quality care and outcomes for all individuals, to give back to the community and more!
Today I think of you fondly mom, as I do on most days, and say thank you again for your love, support, guidance, and so much more! You are missed and loved, but never forgotten!