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I have so many wonderful memories of my mom. She was a regular Norma Rae. Pauline was an Irish American working woman who was a lifetime member of the United Steelworker’s Union. I still have her union card.
I remember her working the picket line when her plant went on strike. She was president of her union local. She also liked to drink beer and smoked. It was that last part that killed her.
Despite her working she was old school. She did all the cooking and cleaning and waited on my father. Even though she was a fireball in the workplace she was afraid of driving and did not learn to drive until she was in her forties. When my father was hospitalized in San Francisco she drove to the city to visit him even though the drive terrified her. I sat in the back seat and was given the job of giving the money to the toll taker on the Bay Bridge. Once she drove away from the toll both before we completed that transaction.
My first wife Candy took care of my mom when she was dying. Candy discovered her one morning in the living room. She had apparently had gotten up in the middle of the night to have one last cigarette.