Friday, September 20, 2013

My Mom

Mom was very pretty. I knew her as a quiet somewhat reserved person but I see in old photos that she probably got into her share of mischief.

Even though there is no Indian blood in our family it seemed that they always lived near an Indian reservation. Believe it or not they still exist today. Grandma and Grandpa did not want any of the girls working the farm so the most farming they did was to raise vegetable gardens and tend the fruit trees.. They also took care of the poultry and occasionally slopped the hogs.

Grandpa put great store in an education because he had very little schooling. Mom graduated top of her senior high school class. I used to tease her that it was easy for her because there were only three people who graduated. In truth my mother was the most intelligent person I have ever known and you would be surprised at some of the more or less famous names I could drop.

Mom and Daddy had a happy successful marriage. I never saw them argue. That is not to say that I never saw them upset with one another. Mom would stop speaking to Daddy. After he could stand it no more Daddy would try to cajole her into forgiving him. When he began to see her softening he would start with, "Hon, do you want a cup of coffee? Do you want a cup of coffee, hon? Hon, would you like a cup of coffee?" Finally she would nod her head yes and he would yell, "Emma, get your mother a cup of coffee!"

When I was quite young Mom used to write short stories. Many of them were published in women's magazines. I have no idea what they were like because women's magazines were considered too racy for little girls.

Both of my parents instilled a love of books for all seven of their children. We lived in one small town for 4 years. That was a long stay for us. Anyway during those four years we read every book in the library at least once. When new books were coming in, the librarian would let us know so we could be first to check them out.

Mom was artistic too. She painted, drew, sculpted, sewed, knitted, crocheted, tatted.... I could go on but it's depressing. I inherited none of her artistic abilities. For a while she was avid about charcoals. For Christmas that year she did a charcoal drawing of my teacher as a gift. She felt faces were the most difficult thing for her to do but that one was magnificent.

Most of us in my immediate family had birthdays within three weeks of each other. I always teased my parents that there just was not much to do on those cold winter nights on the prairies. Once she decided that she was going to have birthday parties for each of us. Since there were five of us at that time the girls would be one year and the boys another. The little one, a boy, could go with the girls because he was not in school yet.

She had imaginative parties for each of us. Mine was a treasure hunt. The morning of the party she went out and planted clues all over town. When all the children had arrived and dutifully handed over my gifts, she gave us the first clue. It was a poem that would lead us to the spot where we would find the next clue.Of course there was an adult or two with us to make sure we did not have too much trouble finding the clue. The final clue led us to the town park where Mom was waiting with ice cream and cake and of course my gifts. It was so much fun.

My aunt and uncles went to school in a one room schoolhouse in the country. On the last day of school there was a picnic and we always went. The more the merrier, you know. This year it was held on Friday, the 13th.

We set out for the picnic with Mom at the wheel. Daddy had to work. Mom was running late as usual so she was driving a bit faster than she should have. She came to the top of a hill and saw the police car at the bottom. Instead of slowing down she panicked and stopped. When she restarted and drove down the hill she was pulled over. Luckily the cop recognized the car. Daddy was the town marshal and worked with the state police on occasion. Mom received a warning to be more careful and we went on our way.

The car was low on gas so Mom pulled in to a station along the highway. In the 1950's the pumps often had big glass globes on the top with the name of the gasoline company on them. They were pretty. When Mom pulled in for gas she realized that she was too far away from the pump. She pulled forward a bit and then backed up a bit closer... whoops! a little too close.She bumped the pump. That beautiful glass globe began to wobble, wobble, wobble, wobble... it seemed to be slowing and coming to a stop. Whew. Then it just fell right off and smashed into millions of pieces.

The man at the station was very kind. Of course we did not have to pay for it; it happens all the time. (Right!) We got our 2 dollars worth of gas. That filled it up then. And we were off again.

We turned off the highway to the county road on the way to the picnic. We were merrily driving along and Mom missed the turn onto the next county road that led to the school. Not to worry... she just backed up so she would be in position to turn. Somehow we ended up in the ditch. Some of the ditches in Nebraska were like valleys. We were rear end down with the nose of the car pointing up. Now what was she to do?

Here we were with a car full of children sitting in a deep ditch with no chance she could drive it out. As luck would have it a neighboring farmer came by on his tractor. Mom waved him down and he of course was happy to help. He was so happy to help that he could not stop laughing as he hooked the chain up to the car and his tractor. Laughing as he had Mom steer the car while his tractor strained to pull us out of that ditch. He was so happy when we were completely clear of the ditch that he kept laughing. Mom had made him so happy that he was still laughing as he drove off.

Off we went again. Mom successfully made the turn. Believe it or not we made it safely to the picnic. Of course we were extremely late but there were still a few games left to be played. After that Friday, the 13th, was a day that we no longer let Mom drive. As a matter of fact we would not even let her in the car.

Mom was a loving caring woman. She would never purposely hurt anyone or anything. That does not mean that the occasional evil thought would not cross her mind. She always kind of wished she could bring herself to be slightly evil just once.

Mom died in her sleep in January that year. It was a hard winter. She was living in another state with one of my sisters. As soon as we had made all the arrangements we could by phone, I drove down to help my sister and her boys.

When my brother was killed in Viet Nam Daddy bought three adjacent plots for my brother and my parents. Mom was to be in the middle. That meant we had to have her returned to the place I was living.

It was a bitterly cold day for her funeral. One of my sons had a friend who owned a limousine service who graciously loaned my son a beautiful long white limo for the funeral. Early the morning of the funeral my son had his stepsons wash it to make sure it was nice and clean to honor his grandmother. Because of the cold the doors and locks froze tight. My son missed the services for his grandmother but he did make it to the cemetery.

As I said it was bitterly cold. There was a strong cold wind to really add some bite to the cold. As we were entering the cemetery I was struck by the thought that for just as long as it would take to snap your fingers Mom would have been happy that the day of her funeral caused us to be out there freezing half to death. It made me smile.


  1. It made me chuckle when your Dad would sweet talk your mother and then yell for you to make the coffee!
    You say that you didn't get any of your Mother's artistic abilities. I disagree. I think being able to write is very artistic and you can certainly do that!

    1. Flattery will get you everywhere. Thank you. My mother and I have entirely different writing styles but I would like to think a bit of her is in me. There will be more about Mom and Daddy in the future. They were wonderful people.

  2. How wonderful that you have such vivid memories of your mother, she certainly came (back) to life in your recollections here and those birthday parties were very imaginative. The Friday the 13th memory was fun to read, and glad there were no injuries other than the glass globe. Enjoyed your writing style too and suspect you have inherited some of your mother's talents.

    1. Thank you for commenting. I was close to both my parents. I often told my husband that we were so lucky to have such good parents. As i got older my mother and I were very good friends because we had a lot of the same interests.

  3. Your mum's driving is very similar to Tricia's. You ought to see the state of her car.

    1. It gives us all something to laugh about when we get together. It keeps her spirit alive.