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Thursday, November 3, 2016

I don't know how my mother did it!

The veil is thin this time of year and whether Pagan/Heathen or not, it seems like the ancestors are often on our minds... brought into focus by holiday celebrations and traditions (both good and bad). And today, my mother is on my mind. She and her mother have both been on my mind a lot lately, to be honest, but Mom popped to the top of the brain pile again today and brought with her a line of thinking that my mind had followed some time back.

This whole post, actually, can be attributed to a friend, Debbie, from Michigan, who commented today on one of my Facebook entries "Always busy!" And yes, I am. Some days I am on the go from place to place in town, though I am trying to pare that down to sync with my every-6-days trips to pick up a share of waste food for my fowl. Those days do get very packed with stops and errands: some groceries and
sundries, fuel for house and truck, supplies for home and farm projects and for the hex sign orders [and from the land of shameless self promotion: please visit SOON to order for holiday gifts! I can only paint so fast,you know!], not to mention critter food for the many indoor and outdoor beasts and birds.  Most days, like today, I am here on the farm. Usually I put in some time with outdoor projects in addition to feeding chores. These days it's "put the gardens and orchards to bed for the winter" time and, had it not rained today, the task for the day would have been securing row cover material over the cranberry bed to protect the plants from drying winds. Maybe tomorrow... 

Even on days when I have worked the old body way too hard on previous days, there are many things on the list. Dishes need washing (and since household stuff has never been my first priority, usually it's more than just a meal's worth) and hex signs need painting. In addition, I spin, weave, knit, crochet, sew... you get the idea. And yes, sometimes I do just sit and think

And it was at one of those times, on a day when the body was more achey than I would have liked. I had tended critters, worked some in the garden, brought some of the harvest in to put by, and had cut disks for the next order of signs. We had eaten lunch, and I was contemplating the afternoon's projects, when my mom came to mind. 

I remember her through my childhood and young adult eyes. She, unlike her wild daughter, was in my mind always a housewife. Yes, she had a career as an RN, both before my birth and during my teen years, but what I remember was her cooking and cleaning and sewing. Sometimes she "puttered in" the flower beds, but most of the yard work was my dad's department. They did not garden. Dad did not hunt and we fished very occasionally. 

After my dad died (1978, at the age of 67) my mom moved to a senior citizens high rise apartment building in Appleton, WI to be closer to where her only granddaughter were. She was the same age as my dad; both of them would have turned 68 that year, had my dad made it to Memorial Day. 

I am currently 68. I know I am not my mom, but honestly I cannot imagine what she did with her time during those years! She died in 1988 at the age of 78. By that time we had moved to Washington state, where she visited us once, shortly after my youngest daughter was born in 1985. She was not terribly well at that time and spent most of her visit in the hospital and after she went back home, it seemed that she was in and out of hospital and rehab/skilled nursing much of the time. 

I wonder all sorts of things... What did she DO to keep herself occupied? I know she did not participate in things at the apartment building and avoided her neighbors (after all, she
St. Luke's Hospital, Chicago, IL circa 1915
where mom studied nursing in the 1920s
explained, they were all old folks and only wanted to talk about their ailments -- maybe because she had told them she had been a nurse?) I know she always did like watching TV more than I did and she had "her shows" which included some of the soaps that I know her mother had also watched when Grandma Katie visited us. She also watched a morning "news" show (I believe it was Good Morning America), and the evening news as well as various comedies and dramas in the evening. So maybe I have answered my question, as I put in down in electrons that way! I don't ever remember her doing much more than making breakfast while "watching" (that might have been coffee and toast or commercial cereal). She certainly did not watch and knit, like many do in the evening. She did make dresses for the oldest granddaughters from time to time, but I think that by 1981, when she was 71 and daughter #3 came along, she had stopped sewing.

I wonder if her sedentary lifestyle that got more so towards the end of her life helped or hurt her health. 

But mostly I wonder how one is able to live like that... shut up in a box in a box up in the air with no dirt to dig in and no critters to watch, love, tend, laugh at. I wonder how one can sit and not do something as long as you have hands and arms that can move, even a bit... even if it hurts sometimes. I wonder if she was happy. I hope she was content, at least. And I hope I never get there, because I won't be.