Not My Mother. . .

Not My Mother. . .

But definitely my mother’s daughter.

When my mom was my age she wrote a local newspaper column (which I don’t do, but I blog). It was about her life as a retiree almost-farmer. She even had a few followers, but it was local and before the internet. I think she would have been a great blogger if she had the discipline a deadline at the newspaper gave her. Maybe would have anyway if it had been when she wrote the column. As it was, though I encouraged her, she just didn’t know what to blog about in the 21st century. She had no concept of blogging about nothing as I occasionally do.

Shortly after my dad had to retire for medical reasons, they moved to the family farm where my dad grew up. Mom retired a few years later, but I think she was a weekend farmer before then. My dad had plowed up a very fertile section of the closest field to the house for her garden. I think it was almost the size of my whole back yard! (The one I have now.) I was in my thirties and had a small garden, and I remember wondering how she managed to tend such a large garden. And wonder of wonders, my mother,  who was always cold and tired when I was growing up, went out every day in cold weather to chop wood and carry it in to the wood stoves they used to heat the house. But then I remember that, even though I had a smaller vegetable garden, I was always tending to other projects, often big, in and out of the house. I didn’t chop wood, but I remember rolling huge rocks and small boulders to the spot I wanted them. I also remember that when I was working at a job I didn’t like I was always tired, too. Maybe I haven’t had the energy in my sixties that she had in her sixties because she’d saved hers and I spent mine. (I also had a draining illogical depression and she wasn’t inclined  to SAD or depression.)

From her early childhood until her early seventies, my mom wanted to be a writer. That is possibly the main thing I remember about her from my childhood. I remember finding character sketches lying around or tucked into books. I don’t know if I knew it at the time, but I strongly suspect now that she never wrote anything (complete) until her newspaper column because she never developed the discipline to write when she wasn’t inspired. Well, I get that! I remember consciously thinking in early grade school that I never wanted to be a writer. In high school, however, I liked writing and dreamed of the “Great American Novel.” And then I didn’t. In the past twenty years, I’ve come to realize that my interests are a cycle. Each one waxes and wanes. And I probably don’t have as much discipline in general that Mom did. Twenty years ago (!!!!) I wrote a complete novella. I was going to rewrite it and maybe turn it into a full novel, but haven’t really touched it since. Definitely don’t have any more writing discipline than Mom had. (Writing interest cycle is waxing again, but discipline is no better.)

Mom discovered her true calling in her seventies. She said she should have been an interior designer. This came as no surprise to her children. She is famous, in a circle slightly larger than family, for being able to attractively cram a room full. We knew of this talent from childhood. She left the farm in 1993, living the last 21 years of her life with one or another of her four children. No matter how large or small the room, she always managed to have everything she wanted. And she was no minimalist! She knew when her time with us was drawing near and she got rid of boxes and boxes of stuff. She’d often got rid of a lot in the past. I guess the difference was that the last time is wasn’t to make room for something else. Still, it’s not like she didn’t leave me anything! I have art supplies to last me to the end of my life. All I’ll ever need to get (if I need them) will be things like markers and ink pads—things that dry out and become nonfunctional. And this is after giving away about half of what was there. This was all in one room!

Of course, it’s what she did with all those art supplies, not the cramming them in, that would have made her a great interior designer. I have a dresser she painted in 1964. It’s a bit chipped, but I wouldn’t even consider repainting it. When we lived in Virginia, she painted a wall mural in my kitchen. She painted another for my brother. (He still has his.) She painted a couple of dressers in a tiger/jungle theme for my son when he was little. They’re now part of our master bedroom set. (I have elephants in the room and it’s an Indian theme now.) I have a blanket chest and end table she painted for our master bedroom in Virginia. And when she moved in with us here, she painted my gorgeous buffet. My siblings all have items she painted for them, too. Not sure if her grandkids have any furniture, but they do have boxes and plaques she made for them.

You can see some of her work here. I think it’s four pages. If I ever manage to get around to updating and fixing (I don’t know why so many graphics disappeared.) my website, I have a lot more pictures.

My art is mostly stitching, I hope I’m as prolific in my seventies and eighties as she was in her seventies and eighties.

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