Friday, May 11, 2007

A Mothers Day Glimspe of My Mother.

Happy Mother’s Day! We are all either the son or the daughter of a mother. So in that capacity all of us fit into a Mother’s Day Celebration.

As a Mother myself, I have had a difficult time with some of the sermons I have heard on Mother's Day, They make us all …all mothers “angels.” One would get the idea that to become a mother is to become a saint.

Erma Bombeck said, “The easiest part of being a mother is giving birth. The hardest part is showing up on the job every day." And I might add it is showing up 24/7.

We all know there are loving, hard working, good mothers and there are also selfish and neglectful and not so good mothers. Most of us as mothers find our place somewhere in between.

At the same time, there is something about motherhood that tends to bring out the best in us. The seemingly endless nausea, misery and pain of pregnancy and childbirth mixed with that incredible love that we have for that helpless and amazingly beautiful baby when it is finally born is awesome.

It is awesome to be a mother. No wonder so many of us feel so inadequate we fall on our knees and seek the wisdom of God.

Many of us, probably most of us as adults have an emotional attachment and love for our mother. And in cases where the mother has such personal problems as to neglect, abuse or abandon the child there is always unbelievable sorrow. In case where the mother dies while the child is young, there is a great feeling of loss.

Just the thought of "mother" brings about great emotion in many of us. I remember one morning a few days before Mothers Day when I was sitting in the sanctuary at Grantville with our church music director.

We were discussion the music for Mother’s Day and got into conversation about some of the old time songs about mother. She mentioned two of the old gospel songs from her childhood, "That Silver Haired Mother of Mine" and "If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again," and we both choked up with tears in our eyes.

Mother seems to see possibilities in us that other people seem to not notice. Just as God sees possibilities in us that we do not see in ourselves and others fail to see.

My father died when i was nine so i was raised by a bright, loving and hard working widow in the 1930 depression years.

Neighbors were an important part of life in the twenties and thirties. My mother used the term "We were neighbor to..." instead of saying "We lived near ... the So and So's."

We did not locked our doors even at night when I was a child. Neighbors were in and out of our home all the time; often to borrow a cup of sugar or flour or an egg to finish out a recipe for a cake. Often a neighbor would stop in to share vegetables or cookies.

Sometimes the visits were just to sit and talk. Our house was usually the gathering place after dinner at night on our front porch. Our porch had several rocking chairs as well as a swing that seated two or three.

While the adults were talking, the children played "hide and seek" or "kick the can" out in the front yard or on the unpaved road in front of our house.

I have fond memories as a child of being in and out of the homes of the Finchers, the Parnells, the Moores, the Hornings. And they visited with us daily.

Then there was a quaint lady from out of town, who, with her children, would visit us overnight and sometimes for two or three days several times a year. I remember sitting on our front porch (along with various friends and neighbors) near sundown one afternoon.

We looked down the street and saw this lady and her children coming toward our house. I said to Mama, "Here comes Mrs. Johnson (I'll call her).

Someone asked Mama why Mrs. Johnson and her children often came to our house. They lived miles away. The answer seemed simply enough to Mama. "We were neighbor to them on the farm," Mama said.

The lady was short and heavy with her dark hair pulled straight back in a bun. Her only daughter and older child was "Mae." Mae was thin and very subdued. She was even more timid than I. Mae walked just a little behind her mother on the sidewalk as they made their way down our street. The three little brothers followed in a procession.

I can visualize them now as they walked toward our house. Mama welcomed them, gave them supper, found a bed for the lady, and put pallets of folded quilts and a feather pillow each on the floor for Mae (and me). Mrs. Johnson sleep in my bed. Mama also put a confortable pallet of quilts on the floor for the three little boys.


I do not remember what, if anything, Mae and I talked about before we fell alsleep side by side on the floor. The lady had a husband but we never saw him. I overheard someone say her husband was "sorry’ and “no account”.

Children were "seen and not heard " in those days. So, of course, I did not ask. But I learned by listening.

In the days before TV, this was a mystery somewhat like a soap opera. The lady would always get up early, and she would come to the place where Mae and I were sleeping on the floor and say, "Rise, Mae." I thought this was "funny."

Incidentally, we sometimes referred to mentally ill people as someone who "acted funny" or had "gone crazy." I thought the Johnsons "acted funny" and we both laughed and cried for them.

Looking back it may have been wife and/or child abuse that caused them to leave home so suddenly, walk four or five miles and show up at our house. As far as I know they came and went without explanation. If Mama knew, she kept her own counsel and always treated Mrs. Johnson and her children with respect, preparing food and bedding for them as respectfully as she did when her own sisters visited.

After all, they had been "neighbor to us" on the farm.

12 comments:

Carol said...

"Rise, Mae." I love that! My first thought was that there was probably abuse of some sort going on. Bless Mama Baird for being so kind to them.

Terrell said...

I really enjoy reading these stories, though this story brought tears to my eyes, Mama. It fits perfectly with my memories of the kind of person my grandmother was. I still miss her.

Please keep writing!

JSC said...

What a wonderful memory of Mama Baird. When I read the story, I didn't even think about abuse. But, if that wasn't the reason she came to your house, it could have been that she couldn't cope and being there gave her the strength to go back and "keep on keeping on." I also wondered if they were hungry. I would love to know the conversations that she had with Mama Baird. Although, it might have been that she KNEW she wouldn't get asked questions there -- just have warm acceptance. Thanks for taking the time to write this with such sensitivity, mother!

JSC said...

Another thought ---- Mama Baird probably had no idea the influence that action had on her little daughter. You have that same caring, mother. And your house is always open to people just like Mama Baird's was.

beth said...

Jsc is right - that is very much like your house Mother. I love to read your stories. It's a very rich heritage we have.

Lyn said...

I enjoyed reading that story from your past. I wish I had known Mama Baird better. I've always heard such wonderful stories and have such warm feelings about her through the feelings relayed to me by my aunts and uncles. I think you are a lot like her.

I love you and miss you, Grandmother. I hope to see you soon.

Jane said...

Aunt Ruth, this is a great memory of Mama Baird. But, as Carol, Terrell and the other said, it is not surprising that Mama Baird was so gracious. I miss her so much. Now, as an adult, I am amazed how she could make each of her grandchildren feel so special when they were in her presence. I am SO thankful to have had such a wonderful grandmother.
Please keep sharing these stories. Since I have no pictures of my daddy as a child, your stories are painting wonderful mental pictures for me.

Carol said...

Wow! I love the photos you added to this post. You know I check your blog daily - and sometimes several times a day to see if you have anything new. I especially like the photo of Mama Baird frosting the cake.

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Anonymous said...

What an poignant story. We never know what other people are going through in their lives. Your mother was doing her part to help others.

Anonymous said...

Your Mother must have been a remarkable woman. I do wonder what was going on in Mrs. Johnson's life. . . and whatever happened to Mae? "Rise, Mae" made me laugh!

Debi said...

Ah-h-h, I have such wonderful memories of playing kick the can as a child. Some days we played from suppertime til dark. And sometimes after dark!