Friday, February 18, 2011

Measuring up!

My mother comes from very hardy stock. She tells a story of her father during the depression that exemplifies this. Her family was poor, there were four girls in a three room house. All four girls shared a bedroom, can you imagine? The girls had no idea they were poor, there was a huge garden, cats, dogs and and flowers. Everyone worked in the garden and each had their own small plot. The harvest from the garden was shared with all the extended family and neighbors, everyone ate. Mom and her sisters were smart and talented girls each in their own ways. Their mother was a tenacious woman who kept them in line. Their father was a mail carrier and walked his route every day, it was a long route.

One afternoon; as mother relates the story; Grampa was delivering mail to a home that had a particularly boisterous dog. Not a large dog to create fear, a medium sized dog who evoked annoyance. Grampa carried treats for these kinds of barking dogs. Apparently on this day it didn't work. The dog grabbed Grampa's pantleg in his teeth and started the back-up and growl routine. Mail carriers bought their own uniforms and this was the depression remember. The dog pulled and pulled, ripped the entire inseam out, Grampa now had a skirt. He ran the dog off and knocked on the door, the lady of the house answered and there he stood in his "skirt". She started babbling and berating, he waited until she was done, then said," You can either fix these now; or we can wait for your husband to come home and let him wonder why I am sitting in your house with no pants on." He was back on the route within a half hour.

Now I have heard my mother described as stubborn, I have described her so. What I see in it now, is that she has a strong sense of right and wrong, her way must be right it has worked for her for 80 years and for many years before that for her "daddy". Mom has never bounced a check, never been late on a bill. Has never gotten a ticket, had only one man in her life, he died 22 yrs. ago, would never think of slandering anyone,has never had a drink of alcohol or tasted nicotine,  is incredibly modest, thus is easily embarrassed. A woman of the highest integrity I have ever known or will ever know.

She worked outside the home during the life I spent there. Yet she always had time to encourage us in our endeavors, my sister in her art, me in my...well whatever I was doing. Mom was a Girl Scout Leader, active in our church, made most of our clothes and took the time to play games with us. Her life has not been easy, but she never let her integrity slip.

I remember a short span of time when she was very unstable. I recognize it now as a hormonal happening, Mama was going through the change of life. The depression was horrendous for her, suddenly she hated herself, my father and her life. I was about 13 when this occurred. She got suicidal over some fight with my father, I have no idea what it was about. She headed out to the car and jumped in started to back out in a hurry. I ran out and grabbed the door handle jumped in and she was crying hysterically. I was yelled at, she had not done this before, She screamed at me to get out, she wanted to go drive into a mountain or off a canyon. Easy to do where we lived. I refused so she took off out the driveway with me in the car. No talking only her crying softly now, she drove and drove; we ended up 100 miles north of where we lived, up HWY 101 on the Oregon coast. She had calmed by then; never did talk about what was bothering her.

 I wonder how she could have withstood the disappointment she must have felt in me. I was and am everything she is not.

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