Long Ago And Far Away

I remember my mother . . .

Mother’s Day, with is inevitable memories of the past, is here.  Because my sweet Gram was “mother” to me most of my adult years I must return to my beginnings for my own mother.

It saddens me to this day to know I was a heartache to Mama.  She had been raised in a certain close, loved cultural mold and when it became apparent I could not fit into that form, it bewildered me and hurt her.  To our consternation we had little common ground and I was glad my brother and sisters could give her the comfort of conformity I couldn’t.

But before our lives separated too far many things took place which remain with me still.  I remember Mama singing, and how she loved to sing.  I can close my eyes yet and see her at the sink, the ironing board (wash and wear were both in the future) or stove with her hands busy and her voice in song.  She would have scoffed at her ability, but her voice was clear, true and when she hit a note, it held and did not waver.

We all, except Dad, that is, sang with her and when it got too loud, he’d retreat to his shop with the parting words, “I can’t stay in here with all this racket.”  Poor Pop was out numbered five to one and never had a chance!

I remember Mom best though, at her sewing machine.  She sewed constantly for the five of us and when we were gone she turned her talents to arm’s full of clothes for the Relief Society.

I don’t know where she learned her dressmaking skill but she knew tricks I see explained in expensive pattern instructions today and when I occasionally sew and make a tricky seam come out just right I give my thanks to Mom.

She kept out home so clean you could literally eat off the floor and it shames me to know how little housework I do in my own house.  I learned her housekeeping standards, but the will to do it is missing and in desperation, I long ago turned that task over to others.

Mama was a worker.  A worker at a time when “labor saving devices” were fairly new and she refused them.  Her excuse was that they were too expensive, but her real reason, I know, was that she felt no job was done “right” unless she had her hands actually in it.

Oh, I console myself that in some ways I work harder than she ever did, but Mom couldn’t understand a woman not satisfied with home, family and church.  She has no sympathy for women who “gadded around all day” and it was years before I shook off my last vestige of guilt over not being under the shelter of  her approval.

One of my saddest, yet strangely dearest memories of Mama was when we knew her remaining days with us were few and I watched her dust mopping her floors.  It stunned me with anguish to see her going through the old, familiar motions of cleaning yet leaving dust around and behind her.  And her not even knowing she did so.

It was shattering first of all to even see dust on Mama’s floor.  Then, to see her going through the motions, thinking she was dusting up, yet accomplishing nothing, broke my heart.  In those few seconds I knew to my core I was saying goodby to that gentle woman and I wept.

Ah, yes, I remember Mama and though we grew to live in different worlds and there was small understanding between us, there remained love, and that love remains to this day.

3 thoughts on “Long Ago And Far Away

  1. Bitter sweet are our memories. One of my sweetest memories of being with my Mom was when I was ten or so years old, and she would take me with her grocery shopping. I don’t know why, but those were the times she taught me about life, and truths, and how our bodies mature. Maybe it was the apartness from the rest of the family, just she and me, that allowed that touch, that closeness. But thinking of those moments is like smelling the lilacs and roses and like being a pure young mind again. Lucky for me she is still around, so I think I will share this memory with her, and thank her, just as soon as I can.

  2. thanks, thanks who ever you are. We all feel the same way about life and our mothers, at least the lucky ones. God Bless you, ethel

  3. My memories of Grandma are few. I have two very strong memories from the time we lived on State Street. Grandma and Grandpa stopped on their way to Murray soon after I have my tonsils out. Grandma asked if I felt good enough to go with them. I lied (and confessed to Mom many, many years later) and said, “Yes.” I wanted to do something Steve didn’t get to do and I knew he felt better than me! I also remember telling Grandpa that I could read, and he said I had memorized the book. I ran to Mom in tears, and she took my side. Grandpa tested me on different words, and I knew them all. I also remember that Grandma had cookies in a can marked Marshmallows in the little cupboard by the refrigerator. My last memory of doing things with her was helping tie a blanket for Steve (I assume) before we moved to Denver. Again, Grandpa said I was too little to help, but Grandma sent him for the crochet cotton, and I put in some ties. Mom said Grandma left them in, too. I know I loved her dearly.

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