Women’s History Month Series: In Celebration of Mothers
My Mother Regina Katherine Drew was a great Mother. I’m certain I share that feeling with virtually all children. But circumstances in my Mother’s life and the way she dealt with adversity marked her as a truly exceptional person. At a time when women were rarely found in the workplace, she was a Licensed Real Estate Broker with almost no female colleagues in the Brooklyn business community. As such she had to learn
how to endure gender bias. But despite this, she built and operated a successful real estate business for more than three decades in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. But if her challenges during the day weren’t daunting enough, she arrived home to our apartment in Brooklyn and had to deal with my Father who, when he had too much to drink, often taunted her about her accomplishments in the business world. When my Mother tried to ignore him he became violent and physically abused her. For many years my Father’s drinking problem eliminated any possibility of regular employment. And so it was left to my Mother to be the sole support of our Family which included my Father, my Mother’s elderly Father and me.
After my Grandfather passed and I grew strong enough to protect my Mother, my Father finally moved out of our home. Not long after, my Mother became acquainted with Sister Jeanne de Lourdes, a young Nun from the Order of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Sister Jeanne, who was the same age as my Mother’s younger Sister who died many years before. She and my Mother became close friends. As their friendship grew and my Mother was relieved of dealing with my Father, and after finally finding acceptance in the world of Real Estate together with the arrival of successive Grandchildren, she began to enjoy life. In fact, I witnessed my Mother finally reach a level of joy than I could ever recall. Nevertheless, the years of stress, unhappiness and domestic violence took a toll on my Mother’s health. She became a heavy cigarette smoker and began to show early signs of emphysema. Suddenly, Sister Jeanne, at 49, was stricken with a deadly form of cancer and within months passed. For all the joy my five children gave my Mother, their visits could not compensate for the tragic loss of Sister Jeanne. For the next five years I made an effort to call my Mother daily. Her smoking habit caused her health to steadily decline and in June of 1975 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. In December of 1975 my Mother passed. She was 64 years of age. I am consoled as I often remember my Mother and what she did for me, and that surely she must feel pride looking down at what I have been able to accomplish in her memory; that her legacy is that because she suffered, so many victims of Domestic Violence and their surviving children have been given the resources to escape from their nightmare. I am sure that she is proud that our Family Justice Center has been dedicated to her memory and the entrance to the FJC has a picture of her and me as a little child over a plague which reads, “To the Memory of Regina Katherine Drew.” By Charles Hynes