Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wise Woman

My mother-in-law was the wisest woman I ever met. She could take one look at a person and know exactly what kind of person she was dealing with. She always knew the right thing to do in any situation. And she put up with no nonsense from anyone.

Mom had a hard life in many ways. She was so small when she was orphaned. She was sent to live with grandparents who were not always kind. Her grandfather committed suicide while she lived with them.

She was more or less the voice of reason for her older brother and sisters who were slightly wild. She worked to try to keep them out of trouble.

Then she married my father-in-law and they began their family which eventually grew to seven children.

My father-in-law was similar to my father because he was always looking to see what was on the other side of that hill. Never quite satisfied with what he had. It had to be hard for her to move as often as they did.

Money was always a struggle. Our families were so similar.

Mom had little education but she could read and write. When we did not live close she wrote nice letters and I wrote to keep her informed about her son and grandchildren.

She read books that were interesting to her. She had a lot of religious books. She was a devout Catholic but was interested in all religions. Because of her reading she was knowledgeable about many of them.

She liked histories and biographies along with anything else that captured her fancy. After she died there must have been at least a dozen copies of Roots in her house. So she did a lot of reading and educated herself.

My mother-in-law was also artistic. Her love was ceramics. She started from scratch. Some of her molds were found in stores and even second-hand stores. Some she made herself.

She did not like the normal powder used to make the mix to pour into the molds. Mom liked her ceramics to have a little weight to them so she experimented until she had a concoction she used.

She made all sizes of ceramics from small animals to the large pitchers and bowls. Some were for the shelf or table and some were for the wall.

After her molds set some had to be put in the kiln. Because she lived in the country she did the task herself.

Then they had to be painted. She had a variety of paints. Some looked like enamel. Some were flat and not quite as shiny. Some were pearled. Some were metallic. It depended on her artistic feeling that day which she would use.

After an emergency appendectomy I stayed on the farm because the doctor would not allow me to be home alone. Mom tried to give me things to do that would keep me from getting bored. One day she suggested that I help her paint some ceramics.

I tried to tell her that I have no, as in not at all, artistic talent. She knew that I would be able to do once I started.

After about half an hour Mom looked up at me and said maybe I would like to go rest. I later overheard her telling someone that I had made her so nervous that she had to send me away. I laughed to myself. I tried to tell her after all.

She made a bit of extra money selling her creations. She even took special orders. Some people wanted colors to match their decor. Some wanted a special item that they could not find elsewhere. It sometimes took some time for her to make the mold but she was able to do it.

So besides being wise Mom was talented. You would think with all these artistic people around me I would have absorbed something. Alas I was not meant to be talented. I simply enjoyed the talents of others.


  1. My aunt was a kind, quiet soul who enjoyed ceramics. Some are in use these many years later.

    1. Isn't it nice to have that connection to a loved one?

  2. A talent is not something to be left aside. It must be played with, and at the same time, be taken seriously. Nice post!

    1. Thank you. Mom made the ceramics her own creations.

  3. I wonder what you did painting ceramics that made your mom in law scared :) She sounds a very good person

    1. She was a wonderful person. I was fortunate to have her as a part of my life. I just could not keep the paint in the places it was meant to be. It was like a small child not coloring inside the lines. She tried to help me. I just have no artistic talents.