Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Lady in the window

For as long as I can remember, Dad got most of the attention in the family.  Not that I am complaining for the lack of attention, for I had plenty, but my point is about how Mother always cared for him.  In my early years that I can remember,  Dad was a carpenter.  I suspect he was the only carpenter that had brogan shoes polished by his wife.  I remember that his overalls or coveralls were always clean and pressed, probably had a crease and they may have been starched. When Dad moved to mostly inside work as lumber company manager and, later, the manager of his own business, he wore khakis and colored shirts, all carefully washed, starched, and pressed by Mother.  Dad liked shirts with two chest pockets; most new shirts had only one.  Mother would cut enough material off of the excess shirt tail and sew on a second pocket that perfectly matched the first.  And his soiled clothes hardly hit the floor because she grabbed them to go to the washing machine.  A lot of the time clothes were washed in a wringer washing machine and dried on a clothes line.  Dad always had a hot breakfast and a cooked supper ready for him as soon as he came home from work. While money was tight, Dad did not want  Mom to work outside the home. But she worked long hours at home.  She kept the house spotless and our clothes clean and starched. The family didn't have money for a lot of expensive clothes, but my sister and I had some of the fanciest clothes in school.  I was a cowboy fan with the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry and Roy Rogers being favorites.  Movie star cowboys wore fancy clothes.  Mother made me a fancy western shirt with hand-embroidered flowers all over it.  Sounds a little gaudy, but it was not;  Mom didn't like anything too flashy.  I wore that shirt in several early school pictures.  I remember  Mom made  Barbara Jean plaid dresses with a lot of lace at the seams.  She also polished our shoes like she did Dad's.  She demanded we respect people in responsible positions.   It worked on us kids but her tidiness left me being pretty sloppy.  I had not learned to pick up after myself.

Now about the title: Dad built the family a new house in 1950. A feature is the picture window that looks over Harding Road and across the hollow to the Teske Orchard.  The picture window was a favorite vantage point to check the weather,  observe local traffic, and check on pedestrians going up or down the road.  We were among the first to see emergency vehicles headed toward Luster's Gate, and a few phone calls generally yielded a report as to how far  the vehicle went and why.  Mother was home the most, so she used the window most.  After she needed to lead a less active life, she has generally been at the window in daylight hours except for meal times.  She and undertaker  Kenneth McCoy like to kid each other.  He told her he wanted a picture of her at the window with a phone in her hand for her obituary !

Mother told me one time that the two things she liked to do best were writing notes and cleaning house.  When I married and left home long-distance phone calls were expensive and we didn't have a phone in Oklahoma so correspondence was mostly by USPS. I think mother wrote us a letter every Sunday afternoon.  I wish I had kept them all or at least a sample.  Her notes were fun to read.  If she had a thought on a subject other than what she was writing about, she would just insert the thought.  It thrilled her the year we got postage stamps with her picture on them-but she wanted to keep them all!

Mom has always had an open ear for almost anyone.  She listened to people who had few friends and many complaints.  This endeared her to people that otherwise felt neglected.

Even as she has begun to have short-term memory loss she has maintained a cheery disposition. She loves to laugh with sisters and grandchildren.  She loves to pick on Pastor Reggie and she is constantly concerned about Dad's comfort and health.  She has to have her hair done once a week and she likes to wear the nice clothes that  Barbara Jean buys for her.  But other than that her thoughts are rarely on herself.


Karen Vines said...

In speaking about the laundry - I remember Grandma stating that when she turned 40, as a birthday gift to herself, she gave up ironing my grandfather's underwear. Also, I remember as a grandchild visiting, our shoes were shined as well.

Another memory is Grandma singing as she did her housework, an indication of her general joy of life.

Hope said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Mother! I remember Barbara Jean's beautiful starched dresses. And I have seen Aunt Jean in the window many times.

Mindy said...

Grandma's giggle is infectious! After visiting there last month, my boys said, "Great Grandma is kind of like a five year old. Everything we say makes her laugh!" They were not being disrespectful in saying this, they were merely appreciating her joy in life!

Wes Wilson said...

Curtis, This just whets my appetite for more! What a wonderful tribute to your Mother.
Of course you didn't mention this
but she did rear an amazing son &
daughter! Its no wonder she still has a happy spirit-that's just the way I think of her. She & Uncle Bill are the greatest.I always think of her when I see pansies in bloom - her sweet face.
Mary Lee