I haven't added to my blog site in a long time due to technical difficulties. Finally, I am able to get back on track.
Some of you may know that my mother died last June at the age of 100. I thought I was amply prepared. She had been ill for a long time, gradually going downhill. I spent a lot of time running back and forth between our home and her facility. So, at first, it was a release for us both when she passed. But scenes from my childhood keep popping into my head. And I'm finding I'm missing her very much.
My mother was one of three tiny sisters, born to Phillip and Theresa King. None of the girls were over five feet tall. But these women were much stronger than you would think, just looking at them. They survived the depression and two world wars as they were growing up. They married very young, as women tended to do in those days.
My family was poor. However, I didn't feel poor. We had enough to eat and clothes to wear and a roof over our heads and parents who cared about us. I preferred to think of us as "lower middle class."
We lived on a small acreage ten miles out from Bandon, on the southern Oregon coast, on the "Seven Devils Road." My parents hand built our house on the land my grandfather had given my mother. At first, we had no electricity, plumbing, or even walls in our little house. These all came bit by bit over the years as my parents had time and money to install them. However, we never did get a telephone and I was a senior in high school before we got an indoor bathroom.
My mother gave birth to seven babies. Six of us survived the process. Scenes from my childhood flash through my mind- Mama washing clothes in a galvanized tub with a washboard, after hauling water in from the well to do it. In good weather she hung them out on the clothes line. In bad weather they were hung on racks around our wood heater in the dining room. We finally got a gas-powered washing machine, so she washed the clothes out in the cold of the back porch, after hauling buckets of water to fill it and the rinse tubs. I distinctly remember the night we finally had electricity installed in the house. I was sick in bed with the measles and suddenly the lights went on. We were thrilled. I'm sure my mother was ecstatic. This meant no more cleaning and filling kerosene lamps. And we eventually got a refrigerator and electric cook stove. No more hauling ashes and chopping wood. She made dozens of loaves of bread every week, spent hours sewing clothes for us on her old Singer treadle machine. We had an old upright piano, and she would sit down occasionally and play a couple of pieces she had learned by ear. She loved music and always had the phonograph or radio going. She loved to dance. Dad didn't dance, so I often wondered what attracted her to him. Well, he was very handsome. And he lived next door to her family in the Yakima area in Washington.
A devout Catholic, she spent many hours going over our Catechism with us, trying to instill Christian values and knowledge into our hard heads. She loved to read, and steered me into literature. We learned to love all kinds of music, from opera to pop.
She was so strong. She had all her teeth pulled in her early thirties and dentures to replace them. I remember feeling so badly for her when she came home with her teeth all gone. But she survived that, and survived her last pregnancy, when our little sister was stillborn. She survived a hysterectomy not long after that, and when she came home from that, went back to caring for her family. She survived the deaths of her eldest son and youngest daughter, but never stopped grieving for them. She cared for our father all through his last illness and death from cancer at age sixty.
Mom was very empathetic and whenever tragedy struck she would be very sad. She hauled innumerable casseroles to grief stricken families when someone died, or was sick. But she loved to laugh, and laughter often rang out in our house.
After her two eldest children were graduated from high school, the day came when she sold her property and moved the family into town. She was much happier there because she loved having neighbors and socializing at church. She worked at various jobs to help support the family. After our father died, she eventually re-married and moved into her husband's house in Coos Bay. The two of them enjoyed an active social life and traveled with their travel trailer until Bill became too ill to drive. She nursed him through his last illness.
When we moved her up to Hillsboro, into senior housing, she enjoyed her little apartment and having others to care for her for a change. We were glad to have her close by. She made friends and loved having family stop by. We would often find her with her rosary in her hands. She enjoyed worrying about everyone and everything, and was constantly praying. It kept her busy.
Like all of us, she wasn't perfect, but she loved her family and worked hard to care for us. And she adored her grandchildren, who returned the sentiment. So we will all miss her and never forget her.
I think of her, happy in Heaven, surrounded by friends and family who went before her. RIP, Mom.