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My Non-traditional Mother

I was only nineteen when my mother passed away. It boggles my mind that she was only in my life for nineteen years and I have lived without her for forty-seven years. Still, I remember her larger-than-life personality as if I was with her yesterday.

My mother was not the kiss you on the cheek, tidy apron, cookie making mother. She was not a fan of any type of domestic chores. She was much more comfortable outside than inside. Maybe it was because she was raised on a farm.

Mom kneeling, second from the right

She played basketball for what I suppose were corporate intramural leagues when she worked for Raytheon. (Raytheon was a major defense contractor.) In Florida, she worked as a cocktail waitress in a small bowling alley. We moved back to Virginia and my parents went to find work in Ohio. There she worked for Goodyear Aerospace (defense and NASA contractor) and eventually worked as a mail carrier for the US postal service.

My non-traditional mother was denied the opportunity to finish college because of funding and her parents adamantly opposed her joining the military because of the presumed reputation military women carried. All a bunch or rubbish and the reason my mother supported all of her children joining the military.

As a result, we all learned to do our share inside the house. I cooked a lot of meals, did the laundry (mom insisted on a wringer washer and we did not have a dryer so all our laundry was hung to dry) while my parents worked.

Mom was much more comfortable outside working in the yard or playing touch football with all the neighborhood kids. We usually had a badminton net up in the side yard and horseshoe pits out back.

Mom was a great country cook and in Ohio all the neighborhood kids loved to come to our house to eat our strange but wonderful food – cornbread, biscuits and milk gravy, fried chicken and banana pudding were among the neighborhood favorites.

On the farm where my mother grew up, reading was the favored pastime. My mother was an avid reader (Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Grace Livingston Hill were her favorites) and it was often difficult to break her attention from a good book. I remember well the way her face contorted as she read an action piece in a story as if she was herself involved in the conflict. When I took art classes, I often drew my mother’s hands as she sat still holding a book for long periods of time. In some ways I resented the time she spent lost in her books.

Mom even liked non-traditional tv shows and movies for most women of the time. She loved Sunday afternoon roller derby – especially the women’s teams. High Noon, 12 O’clock High, Rat Patrol, Where Eagles Dare, Von Ryan’s Express, Kelly’s Heroes, and The Great Escape were all my mom’s type of entertainment.

I am not sure I inherited my mother’s adventurous spirit, but I did inherit her desire to pursue my own path wherever that might lead me. I lost her too soon, but her feisty spirit lives on and for that I am forever grateful.

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One Liner Wednesday – Hey, Bear!

Black bears can survive–and even thrive–on the fringes of civilization, or sometimes right in the midst of it.

Linda Masterson

We woke to the bird feeder poles lying down on the ground. A check on the field camera showed us why.

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One liner Wednesday is brought to us each week by the lovely Linda Hill. Please visit Linda’s blog to read the rules, read other one liners, and possibly join in the fun!

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Random Thoughts About Rain

My daughter calls me every weekday on her drive to work. It is a lovely time, uninterrupted, when we talk about the simple things going on in our respective lives. This morning when she called I was sleeping peacefully with the sound of gentle rain hitting the roof.

It’s funny. I woke up around 5:00 am – it was not raining then. I found a YouTube video with rain sounds – several actually – hoping they might lull me back to sleep. Instead, I found so them patterned and unrealistic I turned my phone off. When it started to rain, I fell asleep easily.

I am always so thankful for the rain, especially knowing so many people are suffering through extreme temperatures and droughts. Then, on the other side of the world, there is too much rain to the extent it is damaging and life-threatening.

Before she passed away, my mother-in-law’s townhome flooded three or four times. She was devastated each and every time and started to fear the rain. We always felt the flooding was due to overdevelopment and inadequate drainage by the city. They eventually acquired a grant through FEMA and bought all the property at less than market value. Mom was able to get the check and deposit it, but it came too later for her.

I may have mentioned this before, but when we were young, we often hung our heads over the porch knee wall and ‘washed’ our hair in the rainwater (All we actually did was get our hair wet!)

The birds love coming to the feeders in the rain. They look pitiful with their feathers all wet. Sometimes they take this opportunity to bathe in the birdbath then fluff their feathers in an attempt to dry them out. There is something renewing about a constant and gentle rain.

I hope wherever you are, you are enjoying beautiful and normal weather. I am tempted to go back upstairs and nap while I can still hear the rain on the roof.

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What Keeps You Up at Night?

I have always been an intense thinker. As a child, perhaps 8 years old, I remember lying in my bed trying to understand infinity. I could not get my mind around something being endless. Everything physical in our world seemed to be finite in some way. The only things that seemed infinite were those dealing with the more spiritual and less tangible things.

I recall processing certain Bible verses and trying to understand the fear they raised in me. A fear of never being good enough.

Sleep is a mysterious and sometimes elusive thing for me. I can be so tired I cannot keep my eyes open, but let my head hit the pillow and my brain comes alive. Once I am asleep, I sleep well. It is the getting there that can sometimes be a problem. Now, sit me on the couch in front of the tv in the middle of the day and I can nap like no other.

I was going to seep with music, then I tried guided meditations (I listen too intently), but overall, silence is still my favorite sleep aid. (I did do well listen to someone reading in Korean because I could not understand a word of it! 😂) My daughter suggested I take melatonin but I hate ingesting things I don’t know much about. Chamomile tea can sometimes help. The problem for me, I think, is how to shut off my brain.

Lately I have been thinking a lot about people that find it important to forgive anyone they held a grudge against before they die. It seems odd to me that one would not want to ease that burden in life rather than in death. It makes me wonder if that is another religious construct or if their own thoughts weigh heavy on their mind at that time.

Of course I also – I won’t say worry – but think a lot about the final tally and outcome of Covid-19 and what that will mean to life as we know it. We are already seeing so many ramifications it boggles the mind to think what might lie ahead – especially for my children and grandchildren.

My days are filled with uplifting and delightful thoughts, conversations and positivity. But this habit I have of thinking deep thoughts at bedtime is something that has been with me my entire life. Maybe it will always be.

I always feel fairly relaxed, although my physical therapist tells me how tight my muscles are in my neck and shoulders. Maybe I am not as relaxed as I think.

So I ask you, what keeps you up at night? Are you an over-thinker like me, or do you sleep like a baby?