Tomorrow, August 29th, is my Mom’s birthday. If she were still alive she would be 89 years old. She was an amazing woman. She was the first granddaughter of homesteaders in western Nebraska and her early life was one filled with hard work and life lessons learned early. There were no comforts to speak of in her early years. She had to use the outdoor bathroom in all kinds of weather, ride a horse to school in all kinds of weather, heat water for daily use and worst of all; she had to help collect dried cow-chips to use for fuel in the wood burning stove. What are cow-chips? The proper terminology is cow defecated matter, or in layman’s terms dung…poop….you know, what cow’s deposit on the ground after eating grass all day! This is not a pleasant thing to think about so let’s move on….Mom was the oldest of four children, two boys and two girls and all two years apart. She loved her siblings lifelong.
My Mom was eighteen when she and my Dad stood before a judge and said “I Do” and ten months later she became a Mom. It was a tough time in America’s history as World War II was just ending and jobs were hard to come by. She and my Dad worked on ranches across the Sand Hills of Nebraska, Dad the ranch hand and Mom the ranch cook. They had quite a life and I will tell you about it sometime, but for now I want to focus on just my Mom.
Mom had been ill while I was a young child and it took several years for her to recover her health. She nearly died when I was just two years old and she didn’t fully recover from her illness until I was around six years old. I am so thankful that God spared her so that I could spend many more years with her. She really began to walk closer to the Lord during her illness. I think being close to death does that to a person sometimes.
My Mother was an avid reader and built a solid library which I inherited when she passed. Let me tell you, there are a ton of books in her library and on a wide range of subjects. She loved to read books about the Old West and has quite a collection ranging from fiction to nonfiction. She loved to read historical novels; she loved poetry, crossword puzzle books, and books about nature, and books about God. Her Christian collection of books is most interesting and I can’t wait to begin reading some of her books. She also had a large collection of cookbooks and sewing and craft books.
She was great about allowing people to borrow her books and when she passed away there were people stopping by to return her books to me. I tried to get some of them to keep the books but most didn’t feel it was right to keep them. I am sure there are people today that miss having the usage of my Mom’s library. She added to it monthly.
My Mom also loved to crochet and sew and do tole painting. I have some of her completed projects and they are a treasure. She sewed a quilt for every grandchild and gave it to them when they graduated from high school. She would make the most beautiful things and give as gifts. I just remember her always having her hands busy doing something crafty. She also crocheted cotton rugs when I was a youngster. Every rug we had in my childhood home was made with tender love and care. I wish I had some of them now, but they wore out and were lost in time I suppose.
One special gift she made for each of her children when they married was a crocheted full-sized bedspread. My sister was the first to marry and I married ten years later. My brother was married also but his bedspread was not like my sister’s and mine. Mom had crocheted him a yellow and green daffodil bedspread. She made my sister and me identical bedspreads and it took her ten years to complete mine alone. The pattern is one solid block of white and then one block of a pink rose surrounded by white. I have passed my bedspread on to one of my daughters as it is such a special gift to keep in the family.
Besides reading, crossword puzzles and crafting my Mom had three other hobbies, stamp collecting, genealogy, and gardening. She was a stamp collector and had collected them nearly all her life. She was so fascinated by the details that went into a postage stamp and she knew a lot about their history. Her second hobby was genealogy. She had so much information from her historical searches on our family that we had to split them between her granddaughters. She had spent much time and money in recording all the family details and it paid off too. She found out that we had family from Germany, England, as well as America. She discovered that we had ancestors on the Mayflower and we are related through marriage to George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Pretty cool, don’t you think? Finally, Mom loved her flowers and loved to watch them grow. Her home was always surrounded by flowers.
I never appreciated my Mom very much when I lived at home. I loved her, but I didn’t understand her very well and at times I really didn’t like her. I suspect that the feelings were mutual sometimes although we always loved each other deeply. I think that perhaps I was a little jealous of my Mom. Why? I think because she was so beautiful and kept her girlie figure in my growing-up years. I was large and I didn’t feel very beautiful most of the time, so I think I was jealous. I never realized that was what I was feeling at the time, but looking back I think that was the emotion. I am so thankful that I grew up and realized what a special woman she really was. She was smart and well read. She was a good cook, a good wife, a good friend, a good role model and most of all a wonderful grandmother. Oh how she loved her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchild. She would be so proud of all those who have come since her departure from this place.
I think Mom’s greatest gift that she left behind was not her worldly possessions; rather it was her faith in Jesus Christ. When she passed away I found so many pieces of paper tucked away in books and her Bibles with things she had written down of importance to her. I was able to give each of her grandchildren one of her Bibles and most of them had poems and quotes and hand written pages inside. She loved her Lord and she lived a life of service to others. She didn’t speak much about her faith, no; her generation didn’t speak about it nearly as much as they lived it out for all to see. Her life was filled with taking care of others, her family, the foreign students from the local Bible College, the foster families she and my Dad took in and then later the babysitting families she care for. She showed compassion to all her graced her door.
Mom was also a woman of prayer. She prayed for all the future generations. She had read some letters written a hundred years before her birth where sisters were encouraging each other to pray for the generations yet to come to remain close to Jesus Christ and she realized that their prayer had been answered when it came to her. She was so impressed that she began to pray for those who follow her. I never heard many of my Mom’s prayers; however, I know that she prayed all the time. I miss her prayers on my behalf.
As I said at the beginning, my Mom was an amazing woman and I am proud to be her daughter. She left me some pretty big shoes to follow. Miss you Mom, have a happy birthday in heaven.
Until next time……..Katherine