The Women Who Made Me

It takes a village, to raise a child. No doubt. Today’s society has lost that village, in some places. Fear of being different; nosey, judgemental neighbors; working moms; non-traditional families, the list goes on. Gone, for most, are the large, supportive families living in the same house or near each other. Neighbors were trusted and as one friend put it, ” If I did something bad, the parent that caught me, would whoop me. They’d call my Mama, and she’d whoop me again”. That won’t happen in our current society.

A good portion of knitters learned to knit from their mommas and grandmas. The rest of us had to rely on books, videos, (now) YouTube and friends. I come from a family tree so twisted and spliced, it would make your head spin. All the women I called ‘Mom’ or ‘Grandma’ did teach me a few things, here and there. I do have to add that I can be a very stubborn student.

Sharon was the mom that brought my brother and I into this world. Some people called her ‘slow’. My dad saw a captivating, mysterious girl. I can still remember how he described her, the first time they met. She was thoughtful, but also damaged goods. She had her first abortion when she was 12. Her uncle ‘took advantage of her’. She married my dad when she was 16. She died at 21. She wrote my grandmother beautiful letters. She never got to grow into what she could have become. Life is sometimes short, like the blooms of the English roses she loved.

Louella Ann was born and raised in a small town. She was raised by her Momma, who taught her to sew. That sewing machine sits in my old room. Her daddy was a train engineer, and her Momma got bored, broke convention, and got a job. Her Momma was also a redhead who wore pink. She was quite a rebel. My mother never exhibited any of those rebellious tendencies. When my mother speaks, it is with the slow, conscious thought of a West Texan. She doesn’t put up with any bull shit, (which is a word you only hear when she’s really mad. Although, perhaps I’ve simply rubbed off on her). She speaks plainly, her opinions and thoughts. Thoughts that are not so plain or simple.

In her book, there is right and wrong. Ladies have certain behaviors that they do and do not do. If I had autism like my boys, her rules were a good cure. Unfortunately, I have never fit in a mold. Dance lessons to make me more graceful, failed. I’m a clutz, though my toes don’t point in quite so much. Piano lessons inspired creativity, but I will never sing soprano like her. I can carry a tune. I was a socially awkward kid, no matter what kind of etiquette she tried. I did get my love of books from her. We still discuss our latest reads, when I’ve run out of questions and things to say about the boys. My love of animals, started with hers. I also learned to keep it all inside, like she does. Most of the time. My snark comes from her dry wit.

I was and wasn’t an easy child for her. She was given a shy, hurt and angry child. I broke her rules for reasons she can and can’t understand. We’ve both mellowed like a good wine. Not too bitter, not too sweet, with just a little bit of tangy-ness.

She taught me to sew.

I taught her to knit. It was a long time coming, but she knit 2 ruffle scarves, while I knit the others. They were Christmas gifts for her friends. She still says she wasn’t knitting, but I know she’s just as proud of those scarves as I am.

Barbara was my step-mom. She married my bio dad, about 8 months after he got rid of us. I met her when I was 13. She’s from Germany, and is now a U. S. citizen. She has none of the American, west Texan or Protestant hang ups. I learned most of the girl facts from her. She bought me my one, and only bikini. (My mom was a little perturbed, over that one). Her matter-of-fact way of dealing with some issues, probably kept me out of more trouble than I can name. I’ve watched her work her tail off. I can’t say I was upset at with her at all, when my bio dad divorced her. I can only hope she’ll find someone who will treat her like the diamond she is.

My Grandmother, Ocea Marie, was the only person I could ever trust. I was the daughter she didn’t have. She was my bio dad’s mom. She raised one good son, and three losers. (Yes, I’m mildly judgmental of my father, uncle and aunt). In between my parents, foster homes and craziness, she kept my brother and I from as much harm as she could. She was my secret keeper, my conscience, and definition of love. She taught me to crochet and cross stitch. In her later years, she took up photography and a good man, named Vince. Like Sharon, she was never able to become the woman she could have been. She survived being married to a drunken, abusive preacher, raised 4 kids during the 60’s and 70’s, and did the best she could. Her wallet always had something for those in need. She made me work for my rewards. I miss her every day.

My Daddy’s mom, Granny, was an amazing woman. She raised 7 kids during the depression. Her thriftiness and belief in God, got her thru. I learned moderation, in reaction to her. It’s not that she didn’t love us, she did. She was tired, I think. I could say all kinds of things about her, but then, I might not inherit the roll of aluminum foil or the Mexican vanilla that Momma inherited, when she passed. My Granny could cook for 20 with $20. She had the ability to ignore awkward situations, burnt soup, and deny that she and Jesus had any faults. My grandfather, tho, he had plenty, and after 70 years of marriage, you’d have thought she’d have fixed them all. It takes a hard woman to survive all that she did. I admire her grit, and I put a little salt on my wounds to help take the sting out of them.

Cookie is my mother-in-law. I call her when I have a yarn emergency, and she sometimes, does likewise. If I could have picked a mom, she’d be my number one choice. Smart, funny, so willing to laugh, even at herself, she is who I would most want to emulate. Maybe Minnesotan snow would cool my temper to her level. She crochets endlessly for other people. She never says a bad thing about anyone. Ever. Don’t ever tell her she can’t do something, she’ll get out there and try. As long as, whatever it is, has a smidgen of common sense attached. She’s a bit scatterbrained, like me. We’re two peas in a pod, and I’m glad I married into her family. Of course, if she could finish that bathroom she’s been working on, for the last 20+ years, she might have one less frustration. 🙂 She has her faults, but really, I ignore them. She tries to do the same for me. If she offers criticism, (which happens so rarely, I think hell froze over in shock the last time), I take it. She’s not my Momma, who I’d never replace. But she is one of my moms.

I may not have had a village, but I had and have strong women, to help me get to wherever it is, that I find myself now. I only regret that I don’t have a daughter to share with them.

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