Thursday, May 11, 2006

Mama

               
                                               (Graphic by Donna.)
Some of you may remember the entry I did back at the first of the year featuring some memories of my Daddy.  My niece, Paige, read that entry and sent me an e-mail saying how nice it was to hear about her Paw Paw she remembered so little of.  Then she went on to say how much she'd like it if I did a similar one on Mama.  Sounded like a good idea, and with Mother's Day fast approaching, I thought I would.
Jesse Ruth was the oldest daughter of four.  Named after her daddy, hence the male spelling, and her mama's middle name for her own.  Her daddy, Daddy Jess we all called him, had rode to Texas in a covered wagon as a boy.  He was one of the first people to own a model T in this rural part of Southeast Texas, and from that became one of the first mechanics at one of the oldest dealerships in the area. 
Growing up on the heels of the great depression, Mama always knew how to get the most out of anything.  She told me many times of how her Mama had to wash one dress on a rub board while she wore the other to school, as she only had the two.  Once while growing up, their house burnt down and the family had to start all over.  Had nothing but crates for furniture for some time.  So, even years later, we had to turn inside out and save every empty bread bag and twisty tie as they might come in handy.  I learned you just cut the mold off of cheese or pinched it off of bread and ate it anyway.  Cereal gone stale?  No problem, toast it a little before you put it in the bowl.  And substitutions, like one tablespoon vinegar in a cup of sweet milk  will sub for buttermilk in a pinch.   
She attended school back in the day when the later years were aimed at schooling a girl in how to be a good wife and homemaker.  So, if you knew how to write a proper recipe, Mama could cook it.  When we'd go clothes shopping, she'd often shake her head when she looked at the inside of the clothes with raw salvage edges and un-hemmed seams.  That was no proper way to make a garment!  So, she sewed as many of mine as she ever bought.  I can still smell the fragrance of new fabric.  Each one was an original.  Never had to worry about running into my twin.
I still have Mama's original Josie Party dress in the cedar chest.   That's what they called it when the older folks would chaperone and let the younger folks get together for some square dancing.  The other great entertainment she enjoyed was taffy pulling's.  She'd tell of getting partnered up with buttered hands to pull and twist the taffy.  I always wanted to have one.  But we never did it.
I think Mama loved music very much.  Her own voice was an alto.  Nice to the ear, though not real solo material.  But to me it was heavenly!  She'd rock me and sing old songs she'd learned in school.   I entrusted my sister not long back with Mama's original songbook.  See, before Ipods and such, they simply wrote the lyrics down in a book, memorized the melodies and got together to sing the latest tunes.  Most of what Mama sung to me were songs from this book, many originally in popular movies of the day.  "Will You Love Me When My Little Ford Is Through?" & "Red Wing" being two examples.
I remember going to see the movie "Reds" with Warren Beatty when I was just out of college.  Thought it was a very grown-up thing to watch.  But was bored out of my mind.  There I was half asleep when I heard "Once there lived side by side, two little maids....." coming over the sound system.  I was so surprised, I jumped to my feet and squealed, "Mama used to sing that to me!"  My date knew I was odd already, but then the whole theater knew.
Mama married and started housekeeping with the boy next door, so to speak.  I have her Woman's Home Companion Cook Book from 1943, which includes a post script "As this book goes to press our country is at war.  Inevitably certain food shortages will develop....."  and when I sew, I still sew on her old cast iron Domestic.  Modern machines can't do near the quality stitches, especially button holes, as that old relic.
In between Quinten in the Navy, Mama gave birth to two girls.  Edna and Sarah.  Two years apart.  The war over, he came home and eventually went to work at a car dealership making $40/week.  They thought they had it made!  But marrying young and the war brought change.  Especially to him, in what he thought he needed and wanted.  And Mama ended up with two tow haired girls to raise in a garage apartment while she walked to the doctor's office she worked at each day.  For all the pain and hardship those years must have been, mostly Mama talked about how Edna and Sarah would devise some play or skit while she was gone and give her refreshment while they put on the show when she returned.  If they ever gave her any worry or trouble, she never related it to me.
Then in 1959, she was introduced to Daddy.  They dated.  She fed him buttermilk biscuits.  I suppose that was the clincher.  They wed in fall of '59.  The next year, they got me!  I was the first for Daddy.  The third for Mama.  Edna was 18 and Sarah 16.  And Mama was back at what she wanted most in life to do......be an exceptional homemaker, wife and mother. 
As her grand kids started coming along, I think that being in her 40's and having a young child of her own, kept her in some ways from spending all the time and attention on them that she would have otherwise. 
Mama enjoyed folks and enjoyed being a good hostess.  She was in PTA, she taught VBS, she was in WMU.  In many ways she as very close to June Clever.  Her and Daddy together, raised and canned and blanched many a vegetable.  (Pete & I were still eating out of it when we married!)  I remember ladies (mostly aunts or neighbors) coming over and sitting outside under the large shade trees in those old metal lawn chairs, each with a pot in their lap, chatting, shelling or snapping.  Laughter was frequent.  It was work, but they enjoyed themselves.
Mama is why I know church is important.  She's why I even know God.  (Oh, I still remember how my hiney stung when once I told her Superman was stronger than God!  I think I was 4 or so.)  In my teen years, Mama and I would often have devotions together. 
After Daddy passed away, Mama was in some ways lost.  She'd turn to me for my opinion on which air conditioner to buy or what to reupholster the couch in.  She took that part time job at the library for financial reasons certainly, but also to get out and about and around people, I think.  When I went off to Nacogdoches for college, I swear she knew the instant that Mustang turned off onto our little farm to market road, as she'd greet me most every time I came home in the front yard, arms wide open.
She was lonely.  Singles groups, even Christian ones, often led to disappointment.  Just turned out to be dirty old men every where you looked.  Think cause they bought you a nice supper you should put out.....just like some younger jerk.  Or they'd be convinced a widow just had to have it.  Then, Mama was fortunate enough to meet Polk.  Finally, a gentleman to treat her like a lady again.  I was thrilled to see her happy.  Not, necessarily to see a new man in her life, but to see her happy.
Then, she lost Sarah to that awful snake bite thing.  I think she never knew hurt so very deep.  I thank God she had Polk.  I don't know if she could have lost a child without a husband beside her.  Now, some in the family mouthed later that he caused her to work too hard.  Back in the garden.  Canning and blanching.  But I don't think she would have had it any other way.  And Lord knows that all she ever had to do was mention something once in passing and Polk did it!  A far cry from Daddy.  They'd sit and plan and daydream for hours, often never taking it one step further.  One day Mama told Polk she thought corner cabinets might be nice in the dining room and next week she had them.  She learned to keep a lot of passing thoughts to herself.
Then that awful lupus reared its ugly head.  She wanted to fight it bravely and boldly.  She didn't want to sit back and watch it take its toll like Mama Ruth did.  Although, in that day, there wasn't much Mama Ruth could have done.  So, Mama purposely set out to find an aggressive doctor and treatment.  Everything seemed to be going so well.  She felt better.  But no one knew there was a weak spot in a vessel in her brain.  No one knew an aneurysm would burst and she'd be gone in just hours.  But she leaves her legacy in little strawberry blonde children and the richest desert recipes around.
I pray everyone is blessed with good company and warm memories this Mother's Day.  Thanks for sharing mine.
Barbara

29 comments:

  1. What a truly wonderful entry, I hung on every word. Your mother was truly a woman of great strength, great character and great love. She would be so proud of this tribute you have written for her and I know that there is an awful lot of your Mamma in you.  God bless you and God bless her xxxxx

    http://journals.aol.co.uk/jeanno43/JeannettesJottings/

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  2. What a wonderful tribute to your Mama. She sounds like my kind of people. Helen

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  3. How sweet thanks for shareing. I hope your niece enjoys this as well
    Terrie

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  4. Wow!  Awesome portrait of your Mama, Barbara.  I loved it!

    Gwynn

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  5. Barbara you have such warm memories.  I think that is so great!  Wonderful entries.

    Darlene

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  6. naturegirlfromnyMay 11, 2006 at 4:04 PM

    Sounds like a wonderful woman!  Linda

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  7. I enjoyed this entry. My mama spoke of the taffy pulls. She even let us try to make taffy candy one time. Paula

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  8. You have so much to be thankful for having your mother there for you.    She was a courageous person and lived life to it's fullest.    The story you told was a pleasure to read and your writing is magnificent.    You kept my attention thru the entire story and the words flowed together beautifully.    mark

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  9. Barbara
    this was absolutely wonderful.  A glorious tribute for a glorious woman.  I am so honored you chose one of my graphics to use.
    hugs
    d
    http://journals.aol.com/nightmaremom/Thisandthatandhockey/

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  10. Wow, what a great entry.

    Terra

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  11. butterflies4me04May 11, 2006 at 8:13 PM

    awww ... what a great idea!

    Theresa

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  12. I had to come and see how the tag looks.  Your journal is so beautiful, the writing is wonderful and the graphics are beautiful.

    I would love to be able to snag a few of your mama's recipes if you ever decide to share some.  

    Take care.  

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  13. Hey, hon, CONGRATULATIONS! You're a terrific mom and a super friend.
    Hugs,
    Barb- http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/HEYLETSTALK
            http://journals.aol.com/barbpinion/HOPEFORTODAY

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  14. that was a beautiful entry about your mother :)
    congrats on being editors pick
    ttyl
    emily

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  15. Hello friend love hearing about your mother sounds like you do have found memories of her so glad you shared them hope you have a great mothers day God bless kelley

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  16. Haven't read this journal but once I believe....but this one about "mama" was a clincher....what a story...what a woman....and you certainly are blessed to called her child....WOW!!!!.....God Bless...Ora of Kentucky

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  17. Haven't read this journal but once I believe....but this one about "mama" was a clincher....what a story...what a woman....and you certainly are blessed to called her child....WOW!!!!.....God Bless...Ora of Kentucky

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  18. My first visit here, your post about your mother is so wonderful. I will be back. Thank you. Michele

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  19. dreamingbrwneyesMay 12, 2006 at 8:04 PM

    "But she leaves her legacy in little strawberry blonde children and the richest desert recipes around."

    That is one of the most pecious lines I have ever read in journals, what a beautiful entry and just in time for Mothers Day. I'm sure she touched every person, every heart that knew her.
    ~ Jenny

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  20.  BARBARA, YOUR ENTRY IS TOUCHING TO WE WHOM HAVE LIVED THROUGH SIMILAR EXPERIENCES THAT YOU WRITE OF. HARDSHIPS AND 'MAKING DO' WITH WHAT THERE WAS TO DO WITH.
           FAITH IN GOD SEEMED TO BE A HELP. EVEN WHEN WE BACKSLID THERE WOULD BE A HELPING HAND FROM SOMEONE THAT HAD ONCE BEEN SLIP SLIDING AND RECOGNIZED OUR NEED FOR DOING BETTER. THOSE ARE THE KIND OF FRIENDS WE NEVER FORGET.    SAM

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  21. Very nice story of your mom. So nice when you have wonderful memories of home. I remember mom use to save bread bags!!!!!!!!

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  22. "But she leaves her legacy in little strawberry blonde children and the richest desrt recipes around."  You, my dear, have a true gift with words.  In that simple line, I felt the true passion you have for your dear Mama.  You are a poet. Thank you for touching me this morning with your memories. I happened here by chance due to the Editor's Picks (Congratulations!) Little did I know I would recieve a gift from God.  Happy Mother's Day to YOU.
    Peace,
    Scout

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  23. Hi. The bread bags and ties, the vinegar in white milk and cutting the mold away from the food and eat it..yes, so remind me of what my mom taught me too, here in ga. ..God bless u and thanks for the memories.

    http://journals.aol.com/Godsfava8/DiaryofaSoldOutWoman

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  24. What a memory you have and I just could not stop reading it.  I must admit I cried when I got to the end.  What a wonderful mother you had Barbara, you were so blessed.  You still have her with you so deep in your heart, I bet from time to time you even talk to her and ask her advice and I bet you get answers inside yourself don't you.  Bless you sweetheart, for I can tell by this story this is exactly what you are a SWEETHEART.

    Marlene-A Poets Point of View
    http://journals.aol.com/mkolasa101/PurelyPoetry

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  25. Oh Barbara~Thanks to Bea I have found you and I just absolutely loved your story about your mother. It needs to be published! Blessings, SassyDeb

    http://journals.aol.com/debbted/SassysSecondWord  <<<my MO. Day entry here

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  26. sazzylilsmartazzMay 17, 2006 at 3:22 PM

    Hello,
    I found you in CarnivAOL and this was a beautiful tribute to your mother.
    Be well,
    Dianna
    http://journals.aol.com/sazzylilsmartazz/DiannasMindlessMusings/

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  27. I found you thru CarnivAOL, and I have Lupus, as well as RA and Sjogren's.... wow, your Mama was a force of nature... an inspiration for me and my whiney butt...

    Thank you for sharing this...

    be well,
    Dawn

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  28. I'm trying very hard not to cry. Your mama sounds like an extroidanary woman. Today so many look down at a woman who can find true happiness at being a wife and mother, it makes me sad.
    I can empathize with the loss of your sister, my daughter died when she was 2 from leukemia. No parent should ever have to bury their child. I am glad that since your mother went through that she had someone beside her.

    I'm truly enjoying your journal.

    God Bless
    Christy

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  29. Wow :) Thank you so much for sharing this with me Barbara. I couldn't stop crying ... it reminded me of how much I love and miss my mom. What a blessed woman your mother was. I am thankful that she raised you with the love of God. It gave you a lovely heart that you bless so many with. I luv you sweetie. God bless you. Hugs, Trish :)

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So glad you stopped by! Come 'round any time. ~ Barbara

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