September 6 – The year I was eight, Ma had a serious operation that left her somewhat of an invalid for several months. When she came back from the hospital looking weak and worn and as thin as I have ever seen her, she was put into a big bed moved to the living room for convalescence. Wide-eyed, I looked at my mother. Never had I seen her like that before. What would I do if she died? Why, she couldn’t die! I ran outside to think about that. What would I do if she did? Why, she couldn’t’’ die. If she did, who would braid my hair? That was her job. Nobody else could do it.
In the days to come I was reassured as I saw her still with us. She would be all right if we would all do our part. But how I missed her being with us, doing things for us, cooking and baking, and doing the wash. And things had to be so quiet in the house. She couldn’t stand the noise, and Pa had given strict orders not to disturb her.
The big boys did the cooking and cleaning. My job was to keep the little kids quiet. Every morning early I would take them over to the hole across the creek where we dug in the dirt, made roads, and ditches, and houses with pebbles and twigs, and planted dandelions and daisies in the pretend gardens. How lonely it all was, but it helped a bit to feel that I was doing my part to speed Ma’s recovery.
It is hard to describe the joy I felt one day when she was finally able to swing her legs over the bed, and to sit in the grape arbor down by the creek, to be with us again. Almost eighty years have gone by since those dark, bleak days, but I have never forgotten what is to have a house without an active mother to make it a real home.
So many memories crowd into my thinking of the old days. Ma, sitting at the kitchen table late at night working crossword puzzles with definitions like “an East Indian tree” or “an Egyptian god,” things that would often stump me. She knew all the answers, it seems, because she didn’t forget what she found out as she continued to work those puzzles. New words that fit in spots where she did know the answers lodged in her brain for use in future puzzles.
Poetry flowed from her creative mind like water in a stream. Well-chosen, colorful words that never were introduced in a sixth-grade classroom came from her pen. Her vocabulary continued to grow through years of reading and listening and observing. As she used her talents to the best of her ability, they were increased as promised by the Lord, in her favorite book, the Bible. – CHRIS