Mama had extraordinary time management skills. She lived by a schedule, though she might have denied doing so. I always knew what would be happening on each day of the week.
Monday morning meant the sheets from our beds would be hanging on the clothesline, along with the clothes that needed to be laundered. “Unmentionables” always hung as much out of the sight of neighbors as possible. No need to expose them to things they didn’t know about!
The family knew that on Monday the evening meal (called supper at our house) would be cornbread, beans, stewed tomatoes, and a dish of fruit. The beans cooked all day and were ready by the time the last load of clothes was off the line and folded. The tomatoes and fruit were from the cellar, stored there during the summertime when Mama spent days preserving fruits and vegetables. When I crawled into bed after prayers on Mondays, I was privileged to enjoy the unforgettabl fresh aroma of sunshine-dried sheets.
Since Monday was wash day, it stood to reason that Tuesday was ironing day. So it was with Mama’s “schedule.” The clothes were sprinkled with a small amount of water and left to rest for a period of time. Then Mama stood at the ironing board for hours making sure every shirt and dress was wrinkle free.
Mama was an extraordinary homemaker. She kept a house that could have served as a model for a magazine, and did so while preparing well-balanced meals. All of the food groups were represented, even though she knew nothing of the food pyramid.
Shopping was an art for Mama. She had an extraordinary ability when it came to making her small budget stretch to meet the needs of her family. Before factory outlets became tourist attractions, she knew where to find them. She also knew when a bargain was a bargain. When I was in high school and not allowed to wear sleeveless dresses, she purchased two identical sleeveless dresses at the factory store – one to wear, one for material for sleeves. The dress still cost less than had she purchased it at the department store.
Mama was trained by her very proper southern mother and the lessons on being a “proper” lady were well-learned. This meant that Mama lived by extraordinary standards, and that she, in turn, required certain things of her daughter with respect to being a lady. These things included becoming an excellent cook, mastering clothing construction, and having a lady-like hobby, such as embroidery. Additionally, “ladies” did not talk loudly, laugh heartily, sit with their feet on chairs, or call boys on the telephone. Needless to say, a tomboy daughter who preferred climbing trees and playing ball to sewing and cooking was not a great source of pride for Mama.
Mama was an extraordinary Christian. She was a student of God’s Word and a woman of great faith. She believed that her primary mission in life was to introduce everyone, most especially her family, to Christ. She had a keen mind that was filled with scripture, including the Gospel of John, which she learned during the early days of the Cold War in the event our Bibles were taken from us and destroyed.
Thankfully, Mama never gave up on her tomboy. I learned to sew and even made my wedding gown. I wouldn’t want to compete with her for the “Homemaker of the Year” award, but things are quite presentable at our place. I’m no chef, but Hubby seems fine with my cooking. Of course, that may be related to the fact that his cooking skills are limited to making peanut butter sandwiches and warming hot dogs in the microwave. But the most important lesson I learned from Mama was that God loves me, and so the narrative about her Christ continues to the next generation.
I know you are having a Happy Mother’s Day, Mama, as you wait for me to join you in your heavenly home.
Mama with Daddy on her wedding day.
Mama with Daddy on her fiftieth wedding anniversary.