When I was little I asked my mom to tell me a story all the damn time and she always would. Last Mother’s Day I asked her to tell me a story again. Or more specifically, I asked her to tell me 52 stories because I bought her a subscription to StoryWorth. Each week she got an email asking a question about her life and each week I got an email back with her answers. And when she’s finished StoryWorth will wrap it all up in a lovely book we can keep forever.
I almost never do full sponsored posts but I make an exception for StoryWorth because I love the stories they’ve given to me about my family. I’ve shared a lot of my dad’s StoryWorth stories but today I want to share a few things I’ve learned from my mom:
How did you decide to get married?
Back in the 70’s we had the Vietnam War and the Draft. Henry had one semester of college under his belt when his number was about to be called. Henry joined so he could choose his “career”. You rarely saw an accountant on the front lines.
He was in Boot Camp at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio for about 6 weeks. We decided to marry as soon as he graduated.
While Henry was gone I sewed my wedding gown. I found the easiest pattern there was and jumped in. All went well until I realized the back and the sleeves were held together by tiny little buttons that looped around tiny little elastic loops. I almost put zippers in, but my Aunt Ollene talked me through it.
I wanted Henry to wear his dress blues, but his Mom asked if he would wear a suit. She didn’t want to be reminded that he was in the service during a war so it was easy to agree to her wish.
We were married at the Wall Brethren Church in Wall Texas. It was a sweet little church that Henry’s parents had attended forever. It had one round stained glass window of Jesus holding a lamb. The church has been rebuilt. It is much bigger, has more stained glass windows. They still have the Jesus window.
What have been some of your life’s greatest surprises?
I became pregnant with Jennifer while taking the Pill. The best surprise ever.
I became pregnant with Lisa while using an I.U.D. Again, the best surprise ever.
Then I had my tubes tied so there would be no more best surprises ever.
Did you have a job while you were in high school?
In high school I became a Nurses Aid. I really loved it.
I went to work from 6:45 A.M. until 10:00 A.M, Then I caught a city bus to Central High and had classes until 3:00 P.M. On week-ends I worked full shifts on the Labor and Delivery floor at Shannon Hospital.
When I had free time I was allowed in the delivery room. It was amazing! Of course I was in the corner and could only watch in the reflection of the mirror. Fathers were allowed only if THEY asked, and I was told to NEVER suggest that they would want to be in the delivery room.
I cleaned blood, and puke, and poop. But I loved going to work.
How did you choose your children’s names?
Jennifer’s name should be Montana! Montana Melody Dusek. Practically from the time we knew we were pregnant that name was top of her father’s list. Don’t ask me where the idea came from. It was fully formed and waiting for a new baby.
All I know is that she so didn’t look like a Montana. The baby didn’t fit the name. She just seemed to be Jennifer.
Lisa was a different story. Henry was getting out of the service and had no job lined up. We had a small amount of savings to tide us over. Then,wham, pregnant! No house,no job,no insurance, and the chance that removing the I.U.D. would cause a miscarriage. Lots of drama.
We found a house and my mother-in-law helped Henry paint the interior. We put a room together for Jenny and nameless baby. And once again, there was a baby and her name was Lisa. Don’t ask me how. Maybe the Angel of names was sitting on our shoulders and whispered the perfect name for each of our girls. I just know that their names are them.
Who is the wisest person you’ve known? What have you learned from them?
I think I would nominate my PaPaw as one of the wisest people I have known.
He’s been on my mind all week. When I visited my Mom on Thursday he was in all her memories. With her dementia memories are her greatest comfort.
She talked about helping him in the fields, Working in the barn with him. Taking walks around the fence line to check for weak spots. She was his shadow.
As a child he told me to mind my manners, be quiet because kids were meant to be seen and not heard, and to only take small portions of dinner so there would be enough for everyone (seconds were encouraged ). Then he would look over at the razor strop he kept on the back wall. All he had to do was LOOK and you knew to behave.
He told me to brush my teeth everyday, and not eat a lot of sweets. Then he would pop his false teeth out half-way, suck them back and smile. Freaked me right out.
He kept pigeons in the back -back -back of their property. When he found my cousin and me chasing them from one end to the other he pulled a big snake skin out of an egg box. Then he told us how snakes shed their skin because they are growing larger, and why don’t we try to find that snake to see just how big he was now. We never went back into the pigeon shed.
He never raised a hand to us, and never raised his voice. He treated us as equals and expected us to behave, and we did.
I miss him.
Wha’s something you learned from your mom?
From my Mom I learned to love baking. She baked great cakes.
I learned to keep a clean house.
I learned that if your husband is a cheating scum-bag you walk out the door with your head held high, move to where your family is and get a job to support you and your kids.
Who are the best cooks in your family?
My Mamaw (my mom’s mom) made the BEST peach cobbler. It was flavorful, and the crust was flakey and sweet and delicious. She made this cobbler for 60 years and never told anyone the recipe. She wouldn’t even let anyone in her kitchen when she was making it. I assume she wanted to be the only one who brought it to family dinners.
I did learn a lesson from this. Always share your recipes, and teach anyone wanting to learn how you made a dish.
If I live long enough I will have to stop cooking. Eventually Mamaw began using salt instead of sugar, and would leave meals on the table for hours and hours. We never figured out how she kept from giving Papaw botulism. My mother quit cooking when she entered the early stages of dementia. Personally, I will enjoy cooking and eating every meal I have left in me.
So now you know a little more about my family. And I do too.
StoryWorth is a great gift for your parents or grandparents because in the end it’s a gift for you. And for Mother’s Day StoryWorth is offering a year of weekly stories bound in a keepsake book for $79 if you order by May 12th. (It’s also great for spouses and even for yourself if you want some writing prompts to start your memoirs.) I cannot recommend it enough. Click here to check it out.