Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day
When my mom married my dad in 1932, he came with a ready-made family; his first wife died in the process of giving birth to my brother.
They had been married for twelve years when I entered the scene. Mother had at least one miscarriage, and lost a baby boy full-term, before my birth.
I grew up being allowed to eat anything I wanted, any time. “We don’t care what she eats, as long as she eats.”
So if I wanted to make dough-balls out of half a loaf of bread and eat them, it was fine. If there was pie in the house and I wanted pie for breakfast, that was OK. Mother didn’t mind if she'd spent hours making a big supper and all I ate was bread and gravy.
I was a stubborn and willful child who received lots of spankings. I’m not sure they did any good.
My mom made the best fried chicken in the world; that’s what she usually fixed for Sunday dinner, and she was liable to invite the whole congregation to our house for a meal, after Church.
Mother was gregarious, and always had women hanging around, seeking out a shoulder to cry on or a word of encouragement or advice. I took this picture when I was a teenager, because it’s how I saw my mom every evening after she came home from working all day in a factory. She admitted privately that some of the neighbor women were tiresome, but she never told them that. In later years she took her show on the road: She became an “Avon Lady”, and she got to lend her shoulder to a whole new set of people.
Before she retired, she took up making quilts from double-knit fabrics salvaged from cheap clothing bought at garage sales. She could turn those things out with assembly-line speed, and I’m sure they numbered in the hundreds. She gave them for graduation and wedding gifts, birthdays and Christmas presents. Anybody who crossed Mother's path in life has one of these durable quilts in the house someplace.
After retirement, she and Daddy spent hours picking up aluminum cans along the roadsides for petty cash. They absolutely loved doing it.
They went camping with folks from Church, and she'd make popcorn for everybody in the evening, around the campfire. She still enjoyed feeding people.
Daddy died in 1987, and Mother was really never happy after that. She remarried, only to find that two old people, set in their ways, don’t make the kind of marriage she was expecting. Divorce in her world was a sin, though, and she stuck it out until old Tom passed away.
I prefer to remember Mother as she was before Daddy died, laughing and busy. I like to remember her playing cards with Cliff’s parents, confiding to me later, “Melva (Cliff’s mom) cheats!”
The happy times.
I was never the sort of daughter Mother had in mind. But she gave me life, and she was stuck with me. She raised me the best she knew how.
I guess that’s just what mothers do.