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Mothers can do it all

No matter how old you are, at some point along the way, you might miss your mother. If you have lost your mom, then it’s even harder since you can never ask that question of – “who is this in this photo?” or “how do you do that?”. You need to rely on your own memory and hope that it serves you well.

I think that mothers can in fact- do it all. Mine could. She took care of her own father while my brother and I were growing up. She washed the laundry and hung it on the clothesline – even in the winter. I can remember it hanging on the line in frozen stiffness. To this day I’m not sure how it ever really dried!  She was the gardener, the cook, the pie maker, the cake baker, the Christmas cookie maker,  the preserver of the harvest, the knitter, the seamstress, the keeper of the finances , the snow shoveler, the painter, the wall paperer and on and on.

Pauline's mixing bowls

My mother and I when I was very young

She and I walked to town to do her errands. We had one car and my dad often had it for work. It wasn’t far at all so it wasn’t really a hardship and it was good exercise! I remember those times fondly- especially when we would visit my grandfathers business in town or walk to the next town , which was bigger, to do some real shopping and looking!

As we grew older she returned to teaching. She was the teacher that the kids wanted to hold hands with on the playground. I found this out at her visiting hours the day before we buried her. She was respected and admired by her colleagues. Her work life was different than her personal life seemed to be. There she was strong and sure of her teaching talents. She was strong at home but I’m not sure that she felt she could do things without some support outside the safety of her home.

I don’t ever remember her holding my hand. I don’t ever remember her offering me a hug. I did get one compliment once but was to keep it to myself so as to not hurt my brothers feelings. I could play the piano better than he could. I didn’t like to stay inside with her and learn how to “keep house”, cook, knit, etc. I was always outside- from sunrise to sunset. This was a disappointment to her. I say this only because hers was the generation that didn’t offer affection openly, didn’t offer compliments- “you wouldn’t want a swelled head”.  It is just who she was and that is OK.

She adored her own mother and would have given anything to have her in her life longer than she did. My grandmother, from whom I got my name, died before my mother even married and my mother missed her every day. Ellen was the reason I decided to hook rugs.

Antique hooked rug

My grandmothers rug

There are some things I can do better than my mother could. I can make rolled cookies – she would get frustrated doing that. I think she didn’t let the dough cool long enough. I can hook a rug – she never did that. I do yoga, am able to go places on my own, try new things, learn new things, be political and stand up to people who I don’t agree with. If a recipe doesn’t seem quite right, I change it- modify things to make them suit me- she couldn’t do that. By the book all the way!

But- I miss her. She would be proud of me for starting this rug hooking business. She would be proud of my children and grandchildren. She would be proud of the way I cherish family heirlooms, vintage linens, family recipes. She might even be surprised that I can keep our house somewhat organized, cook and plan some wonderful meals.

I will never hear my mom making that sound that she made with her stainless steel bowls and her aluminum measuring spoons as she carefully measured her shortening.  Scooping it out of the spoon and hitting it on the edge of the bowl to get the last bit to release, a ritual on Saturday mornings.  I’ll never see her smile at my own kids, her grandchildren, again. I will, however, remember that sound – I still have her bowls. I’ll remember her smile and her ability to quickly find humor and laugh at things.

Mixing bowls

My moms mixing bowls

Her love of animals- I guess I inherited that from her.

I didn’t appreciate her enough when she was here- she had me quite late in life for the time and I thought she was of a totally different generation, not one to learn from and gather precious knowledge from. Boy was I ever wrong! We should gather knowledge from all- both young and old no matter who they are for they all have something rich to offer up.

Grammy first meeting

Grammy Skea with baby Bill

Mothers- they can do it all, but they secretly need help from time to time. They need encouragement and pats on the back and a cheerleader even when they think they don’t. If you still are lucky enough to have your mom – send her your good wishes. If you aren’t, then send good wishes to someone who is a mom right now- someone who is trying to do it all and doing a darn good job.

Happy Mothers Day to you and all you call mothers.

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