My mom is gone but her memories are still with me. It was in 1985. I was at Mom’s home with the plan to record some of her stories using a cassette tape recorder. When I arrived, she was in her usual place…the kitchen. She was fixing lunch for dad and once all was prepared and Dad was settled, we went into the living room and Mom shared about her childhood in the 1930’s, her parents, her siblings and Dad.
In 1985 her mother…my grandmother…had been gone for seven years. And today, January 20, 2016 my mother has been gone for seven years. Just as my heart and writings are filled with memories of my mother, she too had her heart filled with memories of her mother. I now understand how my mother felt with the love she had for her mom. Today Grandma would be 118 years old and Mom would be 88 years old.
She shared, “Mom made our clothes and our coats. She also worked and did housekeeping for the Elder’s and Smith’s in Webb City, Missouri. And people would give her their old coats, and she would make them into coats for us. And she made really nice coats. She would use scraps to make quilts, and she would put them together with yarn…comforters. She would use flannel sheeting for the underneath side.
She’d still be working when I got home from school. I don’t know how old I was when she started working at the Miller Manufacturing Shirt Factory in Joplin, Missouri. It might have been while I was in grade school.
When she came home from work, I didn’t often show her what I had done at school that day, but when I was in the fifth grade I started learning fractions. Every night we’d sit down there, and I had to teach her what I learned. I taught her how to use fractions because she had to use fractions at work, and she didn’t know them.
We did a lot of spelling too at home. Mama liked words, and she needed to learn it for herself. It wasn’t that she spent time with us, but she needed to learn it for herself; it was more for her sake. She was only able to go to school through third grade. But it was good because we both learned more that way. The spelling must have been just because she enjoyed it. But maybe she was learning too.”
It is delightful to read how despite Grandma’s formal education ended when she was nine years old, it never stopped her desire to learn. And I’m delighted that my mother recorded these memories. Now is the time to pull out your laptop or grab paper or pen and start Keeping Your Memories of your mother.
- What are your earliest memories with your mother?
- How much education did your mother complete and where did she attend?
- Was she a stay-at-home mother or did she work outside the home?
- Did your mother have a favorite saying you can remember him repeating?
- What do you realize about your mother’s life that you didn’t understand when you were growing up?