Memory Monday ~ Mama…

I sighed when I first saw today’s prompt for Memory Monday. My mother was a complex woman, and to sum her up in a few paragraphs is almost impossible.  I knew writing this post could prove to be difficult, and it was.

Mama was the youngest of five children.  She had three sisters and a brother.  I’m pretty sure she was her daddy’s favorite child, and she was definitely the most like him.  Both were ‘head-strong’ people with bad tempers.

Mama’s parents decided to name her Jessie Nell, partially after an uncle (Uncle Jessie), but mama would have none of that.  When she married and left home, she left her name behind, as well, proclaiming herself to be “Jackie”.  In the end, however, almost everyone ended up just calling her “Jack”.

6-29-2010 7;34;31 AM old fam pics2

There’s an old nursery rhyme that reminds me of Mama.  It goes something like this, “There was a little girl, who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead.  When she was good, she was very, very good, but when she was bad, she was horrid.  Those words could have been written about my mama.

My parents used to tell this story:  When daddy talked with mama’s parents about marrying their daughter, they sort of tried to talk him out of it.  They told him how ‘head-strong’ she was, and said that he’d have his hands full if he married her.  He married her anyway.  My grandparents didn’t lie.  Daddy certainly had his hands full with mama, but he loved her with all of his heart, which was obvious to anyone who knew them.

7-2-2010 11;10;31 AMpics cir. 68 or 694
If I had to choose one word to describe life with mama, it would be “turbulent”. When times were good, they were very good, but, suddenly, everything could change at the drop of a hat.  I could never understand mama, while growing up, or for many years afterward. The answer finally came, in the last years of mama’s life, when she was finally diagnosed with and bipolar disorder.  I suspect my granddaddy suffered from it, too.  As if bipolar disorder wasn’t enough, Mama’s life was further complicated by the fact that she suffered from anxiety, and alcoholism, too.  By the time I was seven, mama had already experienced a ‘nervous breakdown’, and was well on the way to becoming an out-of-control alcoholic.

During the good times, Mama was awesome.  She was a lot of fun, full of energy, and she kept everyone laughing. Mama loved cooking, keeping house, and she also loved growing flowers.  During her mid-life, Mama spent several years working in a sewing factory.  I always found this to be amusing, since Mama couldn’t sew a stitch!  Mama worked as a trimmer, cutting dangling threads from finished garments, and she became a treasured employee.

Throughout her life, Mama was always working on one home improvement project or another.  Some of mama’s most ‘memorable’ projects were the time she ‘feather painted’ the bathroom red and white, then painted the fireplace bricks red and white, as well.  Mama had the ‘Christmas Look’ going on, in her house, year ’round, and she liked it!

During the bad times, Mama would often have awful temper tantrums.  She’d say and do awful things to anybody and everybody, it didn’t matter who they were.  Mama could say and do the most hurtful things, but never apologize to anybody for anything.  These times were painful, and sometimes downright embarrassing!

Many stories have been passed down, over the years, concerning ‘Mama’s tantrums’.  Here are the top three:  (1) There’s Ed’s “Your Mama won’t get out of my car” story,  (2) There’s my “Mama says she’s coming to burn our house down” story, and last, but not least, (3)  There was Daddy’s “Your mama shot me [in the foot]” story.

Fortunately, we can laugh about some of these stories, now.   All’s well that ends well, and Mama’s been gone since 1997.  As  a result of Mama’s memorable tantrums, our family coined the phrase “Jack Attack” for those times when someone in the family loses their temper!

May 79

I don’t want to end this post by leaving the impression that Mama wasn’t a good person, or that she was never a good wife or mother, because she was. Mama loved her family very much, and she was proud of us. Throughout the years, there were lots of good family times.  It was just unfortunate that Mama was plagued by so many mental issues, and none of us really understood.  Mama’s death left a void in our family, that can never be filled by anyone else, but I hope she’s finally at peace.

***I’m linking my post up with other Memory Monday posts @ Retired-Not-Tired.  Thanks to Judy for hosting!




Published in: on November 24, 2014 at 8:45 am  Comments (6)  
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Flashback Friday…How Does Your Garden Grow?


Whenever I saw Linda’s topic for today was “gardening”, I knew I had to write a post!  Linda’s beginning rhyme was “Mary, Mary!  Quite contrary!  How does your garden grow?”  My answer is–“It doesn’t!”  My husband and I aren’t worth a flip at growing much of anything, but our parents loved to grow things, for as long as we can remember.  Our mothers loved growing all kinds of flowers, while our daddies grew vegetables in their gardens.  Ed’s dad was actually a farmer, and grew crops to sell in his younger years.

Oddly enough, my parents never lived on a farm when I was growing up, but always managed to live in a house, in town, that had enough space in the backyard for a vegetable garden.  Daddy always found someone with a tractor,  to “harrow up” his garden, and get it ready to plant in the spring, then daddy tended the garden using a push plow the rest of the year.  He always managed to grow enough vegetables to feed our family for an entire year.  You could say he definitely had a green thumb, and one of the prettiest gardens around!

daddy mowing the grass...his garden is to the right (early 80s)

While I was growing up, and beyond, every summer was spent picking tomatoes, all kinds of peas, butter beans, squash, green beans, and corn, then “canning” or freezing the vegetables.  We shelled our peas and beans by hand.  Sometimes my maternal grandmother, would come and help us shell our peas.  After we got our peas and beans shelled, we blanched them, and put them in our freezer.

We always put our green beans in jars, then blanched them in a large canner.  We could only do seven quarts at a time though, so it was a slow process.  Sometimes we did the same thing with tomatoes, but most of the time we just put our tomatoes in the freezer after stewing them down a bit, then letting them cool.

my grandmother and mama (see the houseplants)

I hated canning corn the most!  Removing it from the cobb is such a messy job.  The juice from the kernels goes everywhere while it’s being cut off the cobb, and corn juice is sticky!  Mama always took some corn on the cobb, blanched it, and put it in the freezer whole.  Whenever she took it out of the freezer and boiled it, the corn tasted like it had just been picked!  I’ve never been able to freeze corn on the cobb like mama could!

After I married my husband, our parents became good friends.  Both families had vegetable gardens, and  in the summer, all of us would sometimes gather and “put up” vegetables together. We’d have a great time talking and joking while getting the work done.  Our parents shared their vegetables with each other, too.  Those sure were some great times! 

Mama had a green thumb, but she used her talents to grow all kinds of plants and flowers.  She had an abundance of flowers inside and out in the yard, during her younger years.  Mama was always “rooting” something, as was my mother-in-law.  I’m sharing a photograph of me and my daughter, standing in mama and daddy’s rose garden.

me and my daughter posing in the rose garden in 1980 (garden in background)

  A couple of years ago, I ran into the woman who used to live next-door to my parents, many years ago.  She lived in the mobile home that you see in some of the photos in this post.  This woman told me how my mama had taught her how to grow plants and flowers, and how much fun she had learning from mama.  It made my heart feel good to hear her say such nice things about mama, but at the same time it made me sad.

You see, I never cared much for growing flowers as a young adult, so I missed out on that wealth of knowledge that my mama could have shared with me, as she had with her neighbor.  To this day, I can kill a houseplant faster than you can say “boo”!

My daddy’s been gone for nearly twenty years now, while mama’s been gone nearly fourteen years.  How I miss those garden fresh vegetables that he used to grow!  I also miss the good times we used to have out in the garden picking those peas and butter beans!  My mama had a habit of disappearing into the house in the middle of the bean picking–only to return about the time we were finishing up! 

Occasionally, I’ll ride by my parents old house, and remember the good old days. It’s been more than twenty years since anyone grew a garden there, and all of the rose bushes have long been gone.  That mobile home that used to be next door, isn’t there anymore.  I sure do miss the good old days…

Speaking of the good old days, today would’ve been my daddy’s birthday.  He would’ve turned 85.

Published in: on April 15, 2011 at 7:23 am  Comments (11)  
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