Monday, January 24, 2011
NO CALICO, NO SLIVERS OF SOAP
Our mother was born on May 31, 1920-so you don't have to calculate, she will be 91 years old. In that 91 years there have been poverty, disappointment, sorrow but there was a little girl determined to get an education to create success for herself and her family and she did it honorably and in God's way. In her God-determination she lifted others as she climbed.
One of the successes she was blessed to see in 2010 was the retirement of my youngest brother, Jim, as the mayor read the many accomplishments achieved in his tenure along with his degrees and awards. They seemed to go on forever. Her buttons were just popping as people honored her by thanking her for loaning Jim to the city for his service. How great is it for a 90 year old mother to see her 66 year old son retire with such recognition?
Mom's mother [Granny] is written about in my blog, "My Hero". Granny's story will give some insight into the world that Mom was born into. Mom's father died of pneumonia when she was just a few months old leaving a young widow with no skills and no income with 2 children to raise. In the 1920's there was no welfare, no food stamps, no life insurance and no Social Security.
My grandfather's sister, Sarah, along with her husband stepped in to help Granny raise Mom and her brother, George. One thing Mom and George were always sure of- being greatly loved by these three people who did everything they could to keep body and soul together.
George, Aunt Sarah, Mom-Little Christine
Mom played on the floor of the kitchen of the "poor farm" as Granny worked as the cook. She carried water to the adults as they worked in the field. She helped churn butter from the milk they got from their cow, helped feed the chickens they kept for meat and eggs and she wore dresses made from feed sacks. Mom started making quilts when she retired. I couldn't figure why she wouldn't put calicoes in her quilts which was all the rage at the time. She said that all she ever had to wear when she was a little girl was feed sack dresses and she hated calicoes. She couldn't be talked into calicoes, no how, no way.
We think we may donate Mom's brain to science-she learned to read when she was three from George's "primer" that he brought home when he started school . No one taught her. She just picked it up on her own. Her walls are lined with shelves filled with books, the desk and bedside tables are also piled with books. Even at almost 91, she keeps notebooks filled with her notes and is still learning, still studying, still sharing and teaching.
It took a tremendous drive to go to school. She tells of walking to school when she was so cold she could cry because she had no stockings or socks or a good, warm coat. She would have had nothing for breakfast and when she came in from school, the house would still be cold because there was no fire in the stove and nothing to eat for dinner either. Even in these circumstances she went on to graduate high school at age 16 in a borrowed dress and shoes with cardboard to cover the holes in the soles. She was at the top of her class and was told much, much later that she was supposed to be the valedictorian of her class but that was taken from her and given to a daughter of one of the more prominent families in town.
Mom always wanted to be a teacher. That didn't change as she continued into college to graduate at age 18 and was teaching school before age 19.
Halloween night, 1936 Mom met the most gorgeous man she had ever seen and it was love at first sight. That love is still alive even though my dad has been gone now since 1988. He was her first and only love and she worshiped the ground he walked on.
Dad was in the CCC's in the 1930's which was formed to help provide work but when that was over, there was no work in Kentucky and Mom's salary as a teacher could not support us. By this time, we were a family of four. My brother, Larry, was born 16 months after me so they decided to come to Ohio for Dad to find work.
In just a few months it was decided to bring my grandmother from Kentucky to Ohio to live with us. By this time she was in her 50's, there were still no job opportunities for her-no way for her to make a living, she was miserable without her daughter that she had never been away from and now her 2 grandchildren that she had actually helped birth into this world. Granny lived with us for the rest of her life. Mom and Dad honored her and took care of her and made sure she never did without.
Granny was still very able bodied and used to being busy so she encouraged Mom to go to work to help Dad make a living. She would stay home and take care of us kids-and she did. My sister, Shirley, brother, Jim and sister, Jackie came along to join Larry and me.
Even working and raising five children, Mom still wanted to get back to teaching. She would have to go back to school to finish getting her degree, however, and she couldn't afford to quit work to do that. Finally, with the five of us raised, married, grandchildren coming along, Mom went back to college taking evening courses but continued to work. That little girl who had determined to finish high school, now a grandmother, was still determined to get her degree to get back to her love of teaching.
She did get her degree and taught for several years but had to take an early retirement in order to care for Dad who had emphysema and then cancer. They enjoyed their retirement traveling and reminscing about their past travels-Dad had loved to hunt and fish so Mom made sure they took trips with family to Canada and traveled over many states. Mom's happiness was making Dad happy. They also made quilts together for the family. Dad helped tie the quilts after she got them sewn.