My Mom Is Tough
“… be strong and courageous, don’t be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
Recently it was brought to my attention that I am a dichotomy. I get my hands dirty and tackle jobs many woman wouldn’t. But when the task is done, curl my hair, put on a dress, and enjoy any number of things that a girly girl enjoys. My answer was, I am adaptable. I wondered how this came to be, my only conclusion was, my mother.
Although naivety may have gotten my mother in many a situation her happy nature, determination, and trust in God got her through.
I believe it was Mom’s sunny disposition that caught my father’s attention. They were introduced at a wedding. Romantic attachments kept each from perusing a relationship. Dad returned to a logging camp over 1200 miles away. After a series of events letters were exchanged and a long distance courtship began. August of 1969 a wedding brought them together again, but this time their own.
As a child I heard this story told and retold. It wasn’t until I moved 48 years later did I begin to grasp the pioneer spirit it took to make that transition. The day after saying “I do” Dad’s car was loaded with wedding gifts and they headed for the border. A remote logging camp in Northern British Columbia was their final destination.
There are gaps in the story as I know it. Learning from my own experience this couldn’t have been easy. I wonder when the excitement of the adventure started to give way to reality. Was it on the miles of dusty gravel roads? Was it when the door was opened to their cabin and a lantern was lit? Was it when she was directed to the outhouse or was it while she was left alone for days while Dad was away at work? One thing I do know is that Mom squared her shoulders and faced the challenge. My Mom was being made tough.
Two years later Mom grew another level of toughness. In an era when fathers were frowned upon at the birth of their children, Mom struggled alone with my long and difficult delivery. Fourteen months later my sister was born. Between then and where my memories begin were many painful experiences at my father’s side while he struggled with illness and intense pain.
My Mom can do anything she sets her mind to, nothing will stop her. If there is a problem she will find a solution. Mom’s creativeness always amazes me. Apple boxes became dressers, planks of wood and bricks bookcases, beds were taller than average and stored boxes of canned fruit. Our bread was round, as juice cans fit better in a small oven, and gluten was washed in a creek.
Near the age of five we lived in a house that no building inspector would deem livable. There was no running water or electricity. The windows were covered in plastic and the walls lined with pink insulation. The battle to keep mice and bats out was futile, the fight to keep them at bay was endless. It was this problem that Mom came up with a solution. Mom had a large boiler that we used to heat our bath water. Filling the boiler half full of water she set it on the floor. Mom found a thin strip of wood and placed a lump of peanut butter on it. The wood was leaned against the boiler, ramp style, with the peanut butter end suspended above the water. Unsuspecting mice would walk up the ramp, then over balance and splash into the water! In my young mind there was no problem my mother couldn’t solve. My Mom was tough!
During the years I lived at home I recall only two that Mom washed our clothes at home. Laundry day was an event. Laundry baskets and children were loaded in the car and the day was spent at the laundry mat. One day before heading to town Mom needed to be fill the car with gas. Our fuel was purchased in bulk and stored in a large tank. Mom was having trouble getting fuel to siphon into the car. She put the hose to her mouth, tightly closed her lips around it and sucked. Mom was successful, so successful that she choked and sputtered as her mouth was filled with gas! My Mom IS TOUGH!
Like the woman in Proverbs, Mom would often gather food from afar. One day while out picking cranberries the truck got a flat tire. She was stranded on a logging road with two small girls. Mom had no choice, if she was to get home she had to change the tire. Mom eventually figured out how to change it. My Mom is tough!
Often Mom’s jobs weren’t easy, some I frankly don’t know how she managed to do! When I was about the age of seven we lived in a small pink trailer house. After days of wondering where a putrefying smell was coming from Mom went under the trailer to investigate and came out gagging. A stray cat had gotten under the trailer and died! Clad in a hoody and gloves and garbage bag in hand, she got the job done. My Mom is tough!
When presented with the opportunity to purchase the inventory of a health food store Mom jumped at it. She had no building or even a room to put it in. Our fourteen foot wide trailer house soon dueled as a home and store. The cash register sat on the kitchen counter. One end of the living room were neat rows of canned food. The hall was lined with bags of bulk items and my parents’ bedroom housed shelves of vitamins. In this case I’m not sure who was tougher Mom or Dad!
After laying my Grandfather to rest Mom became the caretaker of Grandma giving up their master suit. Later I witnessed Mom set my grandmother’s hair for one last time after she had taken her final breath. My Mom is Tough!
Over fifty years have passed since the pioneer bride followed my Dad home. A ranch style house now stands where the trailer house stood. A health food store sits near the house. Life is physically easier with the updated conveniences. However a hardship of a different kind continues to test her level of toughness, watching someone she loves suffer in pain and not being able to fix it. My Mom is tough!
Never does my mother complain. Mom leans on God, takes life as a challenge and finds a solution. Thank you Mom for leading an example to accept life’s challenges, know where to go for help and square up my shoulders and be tough!
Happy Mother’s Day!