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Monday, November 7, 2011

October 7, 2011 Honor the Mother and the Father

Pam, in facebook, got me started thinking about my parents.  When I was a little kid I never thought about parents' needs and accepted their wants as a way of life.  "We" put up with incoveniences for their dreams.  "We" put up with their choices of dog or cat.  "We" were sort of around like so much cord wood, kind of like those animals, but cleaner.  "I," on the other hand, always had a better idea, but nobody ever asked me what I thought.  Of course that would have been foolish of them.

This thing of considering the opinion of a child trend of today kind of surprises me.  "Where do you want to go for dinner?" "What do you want to do on Saturday?" "Which sports do you want to play this year?"  Never heard of it.
My parents were about going to college for seven years after work (the mom), finally affording a piano (the dad).  Putting together programs for the students (my mother was a teacher), repairing the cars so they could go to work (the dad).

We didn't go out to dinner because there was no fast food, and restaurants were too expensive.  Saturdays were work days to catch up for the week.  There were no sports but football.  If school hadn't had PE, I wouldn't know a baseball from a treadmill.

My parents did the best they could.  They kept us more or less clean and we never left the refrigerator door open so the ice wouldn't melt.  I didn't know what that meant until I was 15.  I thought the refrigerator was in fear of defrosting itself.
My mother, born in the Sonoran Desert. who in her past literally was lucky to have ice in a metal box to cool food, meant exactly that the ice was going to melt, and it was expensive and hard to get. Wasteful.

Sometimes I leave the refrigerator door open in my kitchen now while I peruse what to fix for dinner., guilt screaming in my temples, I refuse to buckle under.  I also let the water run to get hot.  Water was treasure to my mother.  She was raised in the desert with a pump well.  But I let it run in defiance of that memory.  Once I heard the reason for the expression "don't throw the baby out with the bath water."  Once, a washtub was filled with water for bath night.  The dad got in first, finished, the mom got in, then the eldest child and on down to the last one being the baby.  Water was grim after a crew of ten, and sometimes they couldn't find the baby in the water, I guess.

My father died when he was 60 of a mysterious disease he incurred eight years earlier about three days after he retired from his day job.  My father, who was an Irish Tenor, sang from the time he was in highschool, through the danceband era and until his throat would no longer work.  He played a wood-sweetened clarinet and immaculate saxaphone in dance bands of the 30's.  But not at home.  I only ever heard him play scales (reason for the piano) at home.  Since I was a child I wasn't allowed in the nightclubs where he played early on or the private parties where  he and his quartet sang into the wee morning hours.  I heard him sing a solo of The Lord's Prayer one time in church.  It is a treasured memory.  Every now and then I get angry that I missed my dad's life almost entirely.  However, all the soft shoe songs, the big band music was all we had on the old 78's my father collected.  I couldn't afford the modern music 45 records, so listened to the old stuff, was enchanted by the beauty of Stan Kenton and Glenn Miller.  I can identify with old people as they listen to the music I was "forced" to grow up with.  I can sing along with them and feel like the child they remember themselves being. 

I can honor my father's memory for giving me this.  Not to mention food, clothing, schooling and life.

Nostalgic Melody

1 comment:

  1. Melody,
    You know, I understand this. I didn't know until much later in life how much my parents denied themselves for me. When I was a baby, my parents were pretty poor. My dad and mom worked in textile mills in NW Ga, and I found out when I was in my twenties that, when I was a baby, my parents could not afford to pay for a lot of formula and stuff AND buy basic food, so my dad skipped lunch at work every day. He was so ashamed of not having a meal to bring in with him that he would find a place to hide during the lunch break so he didn't have to explain why he didn't have a lunch with him. Put this on top of having our house burn to the ground when I was a kid, and less than a year later, having our car totalled in a wreck that was someone else's fault, and that kept my dad from working for almost a year, and life was hard.

    Of course, now they are in their seventies and are much better off, but I still get teary sometimes when I think about my dad saving his pride by going and hiding behind some equipment while everyone else was having lunch.