My Mom, Tamara, 3 years old

My Mom, Tamara, 3 years old

My Mother, daughter of Ukrainian refugees, was born in post-war Germany after her parents and her sister were liberated from Nazi slave-labor camps. She was three years old when her family came to America, their names and their Atlantic crossing are memorialized at Ellis Island. They started out with nothing in Willmington, Delaware. My Mom was not allowed to speak English at home and there were no ESL programs in school to help her out. Despite her disadvantages, she went to college. There she met my Dad, her soulmate. They married and eventually settled in Houston, TX and raised my two sisters and me. They took us all around the world and gave us a childhood filled with wonderful family friends and a ton of good times.

Peter and Tamara Ham, Wedding Bliss 1966

Peter and Tamara Ham, Wedding Bliss 1966

Mom gave us everything. She gave us a childhood that she could only have dreamed of. More than anything, my Mom has always given and continues to give each of us her time. When we were little, she spent hours with the nightly ritual of tucking us in. She’d go from room to room and read with each of us and say our prayers. Once she’d finished, she would head downstairs only to hear one of us call out for her, and the ritual would start all over again. To this day, she’ll stop whatever she’s doing to answer our calls.

Mama and Gigi Baba, with her girls and first grandchild, Henry.

Mama, my Baba, three daughters and the first grandchild, Henry.

One of my favorite memories with her is asking for an ice cream on a hot summer day. She’d get the Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate and start to pile a scoop atop a sugar cone, not one scoop, not two, not even three…but more and more, a tower of velvety chocolate ice cream that dwarfed the cone that held it. How happy and loved I was, legs dangling in the pool, holding a trophy of chocolate deliciousness. The best part was that she would make one for herself and join me. She turned a special treat into our special time.

In the pool with Baba. Photo credit: Mom

In the pool with my Baba. Photo credit: Mom

We have a running joke in our family to blame everything on my Mom. Well, Mom, I blame my malaphors on you. Every time I catch myself commenting about someone “ruffling the waters” or “shooting the fat”, I think of you and it makes me laugh. How we’ve teased you and ganged up against you over the years, yet you consistently laugh with us or laugh it up…I mean, off!

Mom, I love your laugh and I love knowing that you got that from your Mom.

Mom with her Mama, my Baba.

Mom with her Mama, my Baba.

You have overcome hardship and created a beautiful life. I’ve watched you be …a devoted daughter, I know you miss your Mama everyday.

…an incredible wife, 50 years with Dad and 48 of them in marital bliss and still truckin’!

Mom and Dad Selfie! Southwestern road trip 2014

Mom and Dad Selfie! Southwestern road trip 2014

…an awesome Babuschka to four beautiful grandkids.

My nieces and nephews with their Baba.

My nieces and nephews with their Baba.

…a wonderful sister and a great friend, you have so many girlfriends and they all adore you. You’re an artist, a docent, an incredible cook and hostess…you can throw a dinner party for twenty together on a whim!

AND  you are an amazing Mother, you say the craziest things and you are a one-woman show! I adore you and love you for all of it.

Mom and me

 Mama, I’m soo proud of you!

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