Sunday, August 23, 2015

My favorite thing about my mother

My mother was a story-teller.  As far back as I can recall, she told me stories of her childhood and youth that were so real, I could almost have lived them myself.  

She told how she and Uncle Carl, who was the closest of the five siblings to her age, loved to go fishing as children.  They'd ask their parents permission to dig worms and go wet a line in Big Creek, and her dad would say, "All right, you kids go weed two rows each in the garden and then you can go."  

She told how her brothers, every night it seemed, would lay on the day bed in the living room and kick-fight or wrestle until my grandfather would get tired of the ruckus and send them on to bed.  

Every Saturday Grandma used to hitch up the team to the wagon, load up any eggs she had to "trade" and the five kids, and go to Eagleville to "do her tradin'".  They would spend the day there in town and visit her mom's parents, and eat dinner (noon meal) with them.  Seems like beans were served more often than anything else, if I recollect properly.  She recalled how Grandpa would reach out as one of the kids walked past and act as though he was going to "get" them.  She said that when she was small, this scared her.

Mother could tell the whole story of her courtship and honeymoon, sometimes with more intimate details than a daughter wants to hear.  

She told of her family going to Arkansas to visit "Aunt Adie", whose hens ran under the house to lay their eggs; Aunt Adie would lift up a floor board in the living room to get eggs.  While it sounds as though this aunt and her family lived in squalor, they had a Victrola record player that Mother spoke of fondly.  She and the cousins and siblings gathered around and listened to it a lot, and memorized some of the songs.

There was the story of the family driving to South Dakota in their first car.  One of the nights on the way there, they camped near a river where Uncle Leo, the baby, "like to got eaten up by mosquitoes".  They were up in the Black Hills when Sunday rolled around, and stopped to "have church" along the roadside, taking communion and reading a portion from the Bible...  because my mother and her family did NOT believe in missing church!  

I heard how she learned to yodel as she was bringing the milk  cows up to the barn, and how she learned to drive by going out in the pasture and just driving all over the place until she had it figured out.  

After finishing grade school, she worked away from home as a "hired girl", where she cooked and cleaned and did laundry and whatever else needed doing.  I'm sure this is where she picked up an expression that she used throughout her life when there was a large group of hungry people at our table... "It was just like feeding threshers!" she'd exclaim later."  Mother was happiest when she could watch people enthusiastically eating a meal she had cooked.  

I heard about the first miscarriage my mom had:  She and Daddy were at her parents' house.  When it was over, my grandfather buried the tiny child out by the garden.  She always seemed to feel a little guilty about that when she told the story, as though perhaps it should have been put in a graveyard.  

I could probably fill a book with the stories Mother told me; this is only the tip of the iceberg.  In many ways my mom and I were like oil and water, but in this one area of our lives, we were a perfect match:  I've always loved stories, and she loved to tell them.

If the Internet had been around many years sooner, Mother would have been a blogger.  I wonder if I would even be blogging today if I hadn't learned how to tell stories at my mother's knee.  

If you are one of my newer readers, you can read a lot of my mom's stories in her own words:  Click HERE and then click on each link one at a time and you will share in her memories.


Paula said...

Love to read these old time stories.

Sister--Three said...

You are a wonderful story teller, Donna, I love to read all your stories.
Your Mother told you and these stories still live and if she had not they
would be gone today.

Margaret said...

Wonderful stories! I think you should write all of them down, so they are always remembered. My old time Italian relatives (in northern Italy) lived in half the house while the animals lived in the other half. They eventually got indoor plumbing and got rid of their outhouse. My dad is still telling new stories about his parents and about his time in the military. They are fascinating to me!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

I think it is very important to tell those stories and pass them on. We learn so much about who we are through the lives of our ancestors. You and your mother's stories are treasures to your family.