There are many things I am every thankful for because of mom. The biggest–thank you; preparing me to be a single mother. Without that oh-you’re-so-sneaky-mom lesson you just step into it without thinking. Was there worry, concern of what I was going to do? Sure….for a couple weeks. My realization….hey I’ve all ready been a single mom…I was just a single mom and married. My husband Jack didn’t like that little realization I, in-your-face pointed out to him.
For me as a child there was no getting used to suddenly my family going from 2 people to one, or from two paychecks to one. There was only one person and one paycheck. We didn’t have the fancy things, we didn’t go on vacations (accept one when I was 12); that was the first and only one we went on, ever. Everyone else was getting satellites with 200 channels….we had an antenna I had to lean out the living room window that opened the wrong damn way…wrap the vice grips and crank it around because we wanted to watch NYPD Blue. “There….no..nope…back.” Mother “there” was me holding the vice gripes, “back” was me letting go. I’m not hanging out the window all night and listening to NYPD Blue. You truly figure out what the exact precise…”just a hair” means. You also know how to “tune” in the tv by yourself while mom’s at work and you can watch the last 20 minutes of General Hospital.
I saw my mother do everything. Not only did I see my mother do everything I learned how to do everything. Toilet keeps running?…jiggle the handle…until you go to town and get the flipper flapper and replace it. What part of the year did I dislike the most? September/October when the 3-4 cords of wood got delivered….and weatherman is calling for snow in the next couple of weeks. CRAP…pull out the wedge and the sledge hammer. Work smarter…not harder! Lil miss figured out real quick how to split wood small enough for the stove….in three hits. One down the middle….one more for each half. Voila. Wood splitter? Oh sure that would have been nice, we didn’t have the money to buy a wood splitter.
There wasn’t anything that her and/or I couldn’t do. We were the ultimate team. Sure there was whining. I wanted to go be with my friends, but somehow we managed to work it out so that we were both happy. I got tired of splitting wood, got tired of hearing “we don’t have the money.”
I will never forget the time that the Jehovah Witness’ came around, on a Saturday. She’d never turn them away even though she had better things to do. Mom enjoyed a good conversation. Mom was the one that taught me to have an open mind about other peoples religion. Just because it’s not your way doesn’t mean you have to toss them aside. The ladies were in their beautiful dresses and hats. And received an eye wide opening experience when they came out to talk to mom. Mom in her Kodiak boots, jeans and a cotton shirt and straw hat…..chicken in one hand. “Ladies I’d love to chit chat but these chickens won’t plunk themselves. If you would like to talk; pull up a stump and grab a chicken.” I started laughing…the women were mortified and quickly walked away.
I am telling you there wasn’t anything my mom couldn’t do. When it came to having meat in the freezer it wasn’t dad going off hunting…yeah you guessed it…mom. Most of the time I went with her, but I was a killjoy. Apparently “RUN BAMBI’S DAD!”, is not what you yell when you’re hoping to get your freezer full of buck. Mom wasn’t heartless-she was far from heartless. I would be whimpering “I can’t believe you killed him.” It was out in those woods that mom explained to it was part of life. She knew I was tender hearted. Despite everything I have been through I still am to some degree. You only appear heartless when you learn to protect yourself because you know you are that tender hearted. I knelt down by Bambis’ dad.. “I’m sorry mom shot you.” I brushed his fur and saw the bullet wound that ended his life. She got him right where she had needed to. Mom made her shot count. It was one thing in killing something for food, it was another in letting it suffer. My tears were streaming down my face, burning my face because it was so cold. “You’re gonna taste real good in a stew.” Mom laughed “he sure will.”
There were things my mom could do that I couldn’t. No matter how tough I was, I just couldn’t do it. When she hung those deer up to let them bleed out and then skinned them…I threw up.
When it came to vehicles she could fix it. One of our trucks she always carried bubble gum in the glove compartment…..”you never know.” One day we had to pull over “here chew this.” I made a fuss “I don’t want gum right now. I don’t like that kind.” I was about five. “It’s not for you, I need you to chew it so can fix the hole in the radiator. “nah uh you chew it.” She looked at me, “my dentures will fall out.” I giggled…quickly put the gum in my mouth and started chewing it up. The sight of mom without her teeth was scary. She held out her hand, “ok that should be enough.” I spit the gum out in her hand and we were set to go.
In the summers we grew gardens, potatoes, carrots, radishes, strawberries, cabbage, lettuce. There were only a few things we had to purchase at the grocery store. And then even in the winter time we had enough veggies because she canned them to get us through the winter. In the spring we tapped Sugar Maples. 4 gallons of sap makes 1 gallon of syrup….we had 50 some mason jars full. We had mason jars of dill pickles, chow chow, beans, You name it we had it.
She taught me survival. There are times that I wish she was here to see the woman I have become but, other times I am glad she is gone so she didn’t have to see what I have had to go through the past two years. Because of mom and what she showed me by example….I was able to get through and will continue to get through…and get my children through.
The things that our mom’s teach us by just being there, are immense. I am so proud to be a mom and a daughter. Mom wasn’t out there playing baseball, soccer or any of those sports with me. We didn’t go camping, we didn’t go on vacations, we didn’t have the best house, we didn’t have the greatest clothes. We had so much more. Just because she didn’t do those things with me she was there for me through thick and thin.
What memories do I have of mom being there. She encouraged my imagination. She would correct my grammar, punctuation (sorry I can write…but breaking it down). She taught me how to be kind to others who were more poor than we were, by always giving to others. When I wanted to be a singer, she encouraged me, but also gave me the reality of having a back up plan. When others would tell me it was not possible, she’d stand up and say “if anyone can do it she can.” Mom gave me all the support I needed. Mom was there for every spring and Christmas concert our school put on. When I would end up in her bed more than in mine, she got frustrated but held onto the side of the bed because she knew I was scared. When I did wrong she grounded me. When I told her I was leaving at 18 to be with a man I hardly knew….she made her opinions known. A month later when I told her I was marrying him, she was on the next plane for the wedding. She came shortly after my son was born and she was there for us when our daughter was born.
I am ashamed to say what mom did for me wasn’t always appreciated. Mom’s are often taken for granted. I am glad I had the opportunity to wise up and tell her how much I love and appreciated everything she did for me as a mom….even when I sometimes probably didn’t deserve it.
As a mom I am so blessed to have all those values, morals and life lessons she gave me. What would mom say if she heard all of this today. “it wasn’t just me and what I showed you. It’s your personality, my dear, you don’t ever give up.”