This is a story that my mother recently shared with me. That is my favorite part of being her caregiver, listening to the stories of her youth. Mom had a very hard life deep in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. She had 10 siblings, being spread out a little bit in ages didn’t all live at home at the same time.
I have my Grandfather’s bible with some of his sermons and while he was a laid back, easy going man that never got mad he believed strongly in his convictions and how his children should be raised. He died of Pancreatic Cancer They believed that women were there to serve the men. That the men were the leaders of the family. Mom has always believed this. She was this way with my father and even now she will not eat a thing until after my husband fixes his plate. As a woman of this generation, this had driven me crazy but I also know that she will not change, it’s too late for that. She’s almost 79 years old and has Alzheimer’s Disease.
I can’t imagine the life she describes. Learning to cook meals at 5 and 6 or working in the huge garden at 7 and 8. They grew their own food and hunted for meat. I imagine she didn’t have much of a childhood it was all about the work.
They got out of bed early, worked all day and then went to bed early. This really explains a lot of the reasons why mom is like she is and I guess I never really put it together, until now. Mom doesn’t believe in just sitting around. She doesn’t watch TV very much or ever just relaxes. She is constantly doing something. The fact that I work on a computer all day drives her crazy. She thinks that I am lazy, that all I do is “play” with my computer. Even though this sometimes hurts, it also makes me laugh at little. To her writing isn’t a career, although she had always loved to read before the Alzheimer’s set in, now even that has been taken away from her.
So back to the story…my mother had very long hair which was the norm in that part of the country, in those times. She wore it in two long braids (think Laura Ingalls) and she hated it. She knew she would never be allowed to get it cut and it drove her crazy.
I’ve learned that mom always got what she wanted when she really set her mind to it. If you haven’t yet read the story of her great escape from the mountains of Eastern Kentucky you can read that story HERE. So she worked out a plan with one of her older brothers. She talked him into cutting off one of her braids with a knife. That way her parents wouldn’t have a choice and she would get the short hair that she wanted.
To this day and every day since, I have known her she has worn her hair short. She’s just like Sally Field in Steel Magnolias. You just put it in curlers and tease it into a big brown football helmet.
I’m learning a lot about the girl who would one day become my mom. A lot of things that have surprised me. She has always been so quiet, a very submissive type of person. This used to drive me insane and probably the reason I am the polar opposite. I’m learning that while she might have been perceived as submission that wasn’t always the case.