Mother was beautiful. I didn’t realize it when I was a child, but as I look back on life and at pictures…thank God we had a camera, although I don’t know how they afforded it. Seems funny that even in the depression, which I missed, when people were poorer than poor, they took pictures. Anyway, Mother was beautiful. She was tiny too. She looked big to me then, but as a small child who seemed never to grow much, everyone seemed bigger. She was thin, had dark brown hair that was always curled and styled without the aid of a beauty shop. She always matched. Ladies wore hats and gloves then. In later years, she would say, “I’m glad we’re done with the foolishness.” A surprising statement for a woman who seemed so “un-liberated”, but I think she had a streak of the rebel in her. After all, we all do…all five of us some more subtle than others. Mother used to say she weighed 98 pounds until the sister came “across the water”. That was Mother’s euphemism for being born. She wasn’t one to beat around the bush when it came to matters that needed to be discussed, and she usually didn’t use euphemisms, but childbirth had a name of its own. I suppose it’s because she had 5 “live births” and lost one baby, and having babies was just about the most important thing in her life. She loved it, and childbirth, or labor and delivery just weren’t good enough terms for her. I hated that term, “came across the water”. I would get madder than a settin’ hen when she would say it. They all laughed, especially Mother and The sister. They had the same laugh. Madder than a settin’ hen is another saying we heard all the time. Right up there with “I’m fit to be tied.” Tied to what?
Anyway, I was talking about how pretty Mother was. She wore beautiful hats, although she didn’t have many. Every time Daddy would marry some couple in front of the old clock in the living room he’d give the money they gave him to Mother. Daddy hated doing weddings, especially big ones, and maybe in his mind the money was some reminder of the ordeal. Mother took the money and sometimes, not always, bought hats and things she needed. She put us first, well, right after the Lord. She always said, “You can’t out give the Lord.” He always got his cut. She wasn’t just pretty, she was beautiful, and she was kind. I felt secure around Mother and always wanted to be where she was.
I never realized until later that even thought Mother was probably the most selfless person on the earth, she was spoiled as well. She was easy to spoil. Everyone loved her. Her oldest brother was 20 years older than she was. My Aunt Agnes, her only “full-sister” told me one time that she always got her way. Grandpa and all the brothers couldn’t resist her. Neither could I. I used to tell her that when I grew up I would buy her a forty-room mansion, a mink coat, and pearls. Now, don’t ask me why the house had to have forty rooms? I don’t know. She always said that, “that would be nice, but I’ll wait for my mansion in heaven.” She never commented on the mink and pearls however. I guess the “full-sister” term might confuse some folks, so I’ll explain. Since Mother’s Mommie was married before she married my Grandpa and he was too, the family got a little confusing. Mother had one full-sister, several half-sisters and half-brothers, and an adopted brother as well. The half sisters were “fuller” than the only full-sister, if you know what I mean.
We always wanted to obey her. And even though we didn’t sometimes, it was definitely the better path to take. Disobedience was met with swift punishment. We usually only did one bad thing one time each. Now, don’t get me wrong she wasn’t mean or even by today’s standards cruel, but there was a time when I thought the fly swatter was attached to her hand. Maybe I had a few more lessons to learn. Not as many lessons as the sister seemed to be in for. The odd thing is I think the sister was probably just like Mother when she was a little girl; Adventurous, inquisitive, and always on the go. Nonetheless, Mother was beautiful and made you love her.
It was easy.