Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, July 17, 2015


Today would have been my mother's 93rd birthday.

She never cared for the name given her at birth and I can't blame her:  Millard was a lousy name for a president and a lousy name for a little girl.  (Her mother's name was MILdred and her father's name (not that he used it) was BernARD -- get it?)  Luckily her middle name was Harriet, which she was known by.  When she was old enough, she decided she preferred Harriette -- "with two ts and an e."

When she was seven, her father was killed in a gas explosion.  Her mother, a somewhat flighty person made even more flightier by widowhood, moed to Florida with my mother's baby sister. y mother stayed in New England with the woman who raised Mildred.  (She was a relative, but I'm not sure what the relationship was; it was a fairly common practice to take in orphaned relatives and raised them.)  This was during the depression; even though there was not much money, there was a comfortable roof over her head and plenty of food -- a benefit of living in a farming community.

She was nineteen when she married my father, who called her Peg.  ("Peg o' My Heart" was a poopular song.)  She moved in with him on the farm were he worked.  My sister Linda was born in 1943, followed by three failed pregnancies.  The Rh factor was just beginning to be understood by the time I was born, the first person in our area to survive this condition, thanks to numerous blood transfusions.  My brother Ken came along 14 months later but, despite blood transfusions,  remained sickly; finally the hospital sent him home to die but Ken fooled'em and began to thrive.

My mother had a basic laissez faire attitude to raising boys.  We were allowed to run wild.  My sister, though, was somewhat different.  My mother taught her and some of her friends how to cook and helped run her Brownie troop.  My mother was basically a housewife; her two attempts at working in later years were short-lived.  She remained active in the community for most of her life.

She had a few health problems.  A minor bout with cancer.  Moving about with a bad back earned her the name "Scoots," a name given her by my brother and not by me, despite thoughts to the contrary.  We called her Scoots from that point on.

After my father died, she was lost for a while.  Eventually she started seeing a local man, a local man who was recently widowed.  They remained companions for over twenty years.  She died at home at  age 84.

She had a long life and a good one, speckled with some heartache, but not enough heartache to be overwhelming.  We should all be so lucky.

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