Monday, May 15, 2006

A wise woman

I've been thinking of my mom today. She was indeed a wise woman. She was larger than life to be sure. She did things that I find incredibly brave.

She was born and raised in a coal mining town in Virginia.
She was the forth oldest in a family of eleven kids. I can't even imagine having ten brothers and sisters.
When she was seven years old she was wearing a new wool dress my grandmother had made for the girls for the fall for school. She saw one of her brothers cutting potatoes to fry over a camp fire. She went over to tell him he was cutting them to big and that they wouldn't fry. She bent down to show him how to do it, and her dress caught fire. Her screams brought my very pregnant grandmother running. She put the fire out with her own hands, causing deep burns that would hurt her for years. She then carried my mother miles in her arms to the camp doctor.
From there they somehow got her to the 'big' hospital over in Tenn.
My mom was in and out of it for weeks. The burns on her back were so deep it scared her internal organs and for years they told her she would never conceive, even if she did somehow survive. They finally did send her back home, to die I suspect. They gave her no hope of making it. She did survive, with the help of the camp doctors and my grandmother and her sisters. She used to say she remembered them putting a thick purple ointment on her raw back, until it healed. Modern medicine at the time, had nothing on those camp doctors and the medicine women.

I remember running my finger over the scar on her back when I was little. It covered her entire back from her hips to her shoulders. And she never let it stop her.

When she was sixteen she married her first husband. It lasted three months. My mother had gone to visit one of her sisters who was having a baby. When she came home a day early, she found her new husband and another woman in bed. My mother weighed all of a hundred pounds probably. She drugged that woman out of the bed, they tumbled down the front steps, and my mother broke that woman's nose while banging her head off the grass. She then turned to her terrified husband and told him he was next.
That ended that marriage. lol. They would become friends again thirty years later.

At seventeen, she decided she needed a change. She caught a bus to Ohio. She didn't know a soul there, but that was as far as her 'get her there' money would take her. She got a job as a secretary and found a roommate. She lived there till she was twenty. Then came back home, and married my father. Funny thing was my fathers mother was a midwife too, and on the morning my mother was born, my father was lying in a basket on the floor. He always said, he fell in love with my mother on the day she was born. They were married almost forty years when he died after a long illness. Then my mother followed ten years later.

Some of the things she would say always made me laugh. Sometimes, I would scratch my head trying to figure out what the hell? But, now, I get most of them. lol.

"You lie down with dogs, you'll get up with fleas." Watch what you do, and who you do it with.

"What goes over the devils back, will always come back up under his belly." What goes around, comes around.

"A drunk man, and a whistling woman will both come to a no good end." ??? That one I'm still waiting on.

"Dead men tell no tales, but the cat in the cupboard knows all the secrets." Just listen and keep your mouth shut.

"There are more things than heaven and earth. And time holds no bars on them."

Can you tell that maybe there were witches in the wood pile someplace?? I get that impression too. lol.

She once was arguing with my fairly new husband, when in the middle of a thought, she just stopped, squinted her eyes and said..."If you were a bug in a jar...I wouldn't even give you air holes." She then turned and walked out of the room. I laughed out loud. My husband turned white as a sheet and shut his mouth. Wonder what he thought she was gonna do??
I know what he knew I would do, we were bickering once at a fair, we were standing next to one of those crossbow games. I was so furious at him, I walked over, laid my dollar down, the guy handed me the bow, I lined it up, let it fly, and the arrow hit the bullseye. The guy and my husband looked at each other. I took the stuffed whatever, turned to him, and said...Don't fuck with me, ever. And walked away. I think I got my point across. I had never held a cross bow in my hands before or since. But, it just felt sooo right. lol.

I miss my mom, but I know she is around when I need her.


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