We all have mothers and we have very warm feelings toward them. And we all have stories to tell about them. Those of us who are fortunate enough to still have them around should appreciate them every day, because they—like us—don’t live forever.
My Mom, Estelle Stossel Domke, was one of seven children born to a Polish immigrant family that settled in Wyoming. She was born in October 1919 in the little town of Hudson, in Fremont County, smack in the middle of the state. American frontiersman Daniel Boone famously was asked why he was moving to Missouri, and he replied, “I want more elbow room.”
Well, he could have found plenty of “elbow room” in Wyoming; it is the least populated state in the United States. Hudson’s current population is about 450. Most of the time my mother lived there it hovered around 300. My grandparents raised the six children who survived—two boys and four girls—and they went on to have families of their own. My mother passed away at age 91 after a battle with cancer. All of her siblings are gone as well. When Mom was old enough, she took a train to Chicago, where the family had relatives. (Then, as now, Chicago had a large Polish-American population.) She found work and eventually met my father and they married in June of 1940. I came along about a year later.
My father had worked as a machinist, but health forced him to seek easier work and a healthier climate and he became a watchmaker and moved the family to Colorado. Later my parents opened a jewelry store in New Mexico. I graduated from high school and college there and went on to serve in the Air Force and wound up in Texas.
Many people say I have an independent spirit, which I think probably came from my mother. She was a large part of the reason my father succeeded in his career and business. She also played a huge role in raising my younger sister and me.
After my father died in 1975, Mom settled in Albuquerque and lived there the rest of her life. She lived to know her grandchildren. Years later I’m grateful to her and my father for all they did for me.
Happy Mothers’ Day to all like her.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.