Sunday, May 11, 2014

My Mother

My mom is the 9th of 11 children born to poor, but hardworking parents, Fay and Florize.  They lived on a small dairy farm in picturesque Grover, Wyoming, a tiny little speck on the map near the border of Idaho.    Growing up on a farm meant that my mom and her siblings learned to work hard from a very early age.  Starting in elementary school she was feeding the cows, making sure they stayed out of the haystacks, picking up the hay that had dropped from the buckrake, mowing the grass, weeding the garden, peeling fruits for canning, and helping harvest some of the vegetables.  In 8th grade she started milking the cows and making the haystacks.

Although not as common in her generation, the sea green painted, tin-roofed house she grew up in still did not have indoor plumbing.  She told stories of her and her sisters running to the outhouse in the middle of freezing Wyoming nights and meeting little critters along the way.  Other times they would painfully hold their bladders until morning, just to avoid the trek out in the dark and bitter cold.   Bathing was a treasured luxury that did not happen often enough for mom's taste.  As an adult, long, hot showers continue to be one of her guilty pleasures in life.

In that rural farming community where she grew up, women were still basically second class citizens.  Legally they could vote and attend school, but inheritances were traditionally only passed on to sons, because the daughters would one day be taken care of by their husbands and when my mom signed up for trigonometry in high school, her counselor discouraged her from it and told her that she shouldn't bother taking such high level math, because women didn't need math.   She was one of two girls in that trig class and she aced it.  She later graduated as salutatorian of her class, again an unusual feat for a girl back then.    Several years after that, with four kids in tow,  she graduated with a bachelor's degree from Brigham Young University.  All of her siblings, except one, are college graduates.

My grandfather did not believe it proper for women to drive and although my grandmother  signed my mom up for driver's ed behind grandpa's back, my mom never did get her driver's license until she was married and had a few children.  I remember my mom's driving lessons--always starting in parking lots and ending with a bit of shouting from my dad.   Although she spent many years toting eight kids around to their various activities, mom still does not enjoy driving much and will always eagerly pass the steering wheel over to anyone else who might be willing to take over.  

One of the greatest lessons my mom instilled in us kids was the value of making do with what you have.  You don't need expensive containers to organize your pantry when a soda bottle or a mayonnaise jar will work just as well.  Who needs fancy end tables when you can stack up a few boxes of food storage and throw a pretty table cloth over it? And don't get her started on shoes.  She is an adamant believer that all anyone needs is one pair of tennis shoes to wear six days a week and one pair of sensible dressy flats for Sundays.  Anything more than that is frivolous.  Although most of us are anti-soda bottle pantry organizers, I do tend toward my mom in the shoe philosophy department.  I  own more than two pairs, but each pair is extremely sensible (meaning comfortable and unstylish) and worn until they fall apart.  Recently I replaced a worn-out pair of shoes and later discovered during a visit from my mom that they matched a pair of my mom's almost exactly.     In my younger years that might have embarrassed me at least a little, but fact is I don't mind anymore and I am proud to say that I even wore those shoes to church today.

My mom's legacy is one of hard-work, intelligence, frugality, and unconditional love.  Although her life has never been easy, she has always made the best of whatever it's thrown at her.  I am grateful for the way she's always risen above what was expected of her and shown by example that we can accomplish anything that we put our minds to.

Happy Mother's Day!  
I love you Mom! 


Jennifer McArthur said...

Wow. What a tremendous life story. Happy Mother's Day . . . to you and your Mom!

stokessix said...

You do indeed have one of the most wonderful women I have ever known as your mother. <3

stokessix said...

Oops... that previous comment was not from stokessix but from me, Kathleen Pimlott

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