The following article by David Strange originally appeared in The Courier-Journal on 11 May 2014. It is archived here with additional information for your reading enjoyment.
Many of my earliest childhood memories revolve around home, my older brother....and my mother.
In those early days of the family, my father had to be away a lot, working double shifts and extra jobs to help move us up into the Middle Class.
So when I was a small boy in those late 1950's it was up to Mom alone to care for the home and two feisty young boys running around the house. One of my earliest memories was curling up in the laundry next to the running washing machine. Lying there listening to the constant "churn, churn, churn" of that old wringer/washer made a great place for a child to nap as Mom ironed and cleaned house. I barely remember a time before that machine, when Mom used a tub and scrub board to wash clothes. Having a real washing machine was almost a luxury in comparison.
Times were a little tougher than I knew, back then. A lot of that ironing was for other people, as Mom tried to make a little extra money for the family as well. Now and then we would have great fun at mealtime, laughing and making mustard sandwiches. It was years later that I realized that "day-old bread" and mustard was about all we had in the kitchen at those times. Mom was making a bad situation seem fun.
Oh, but she could also make some great food for a growing boy! She would sometimes make homemade pies, using the crust trimmings to make the best buttery cinnamon rolls in the whole wide world. Once in a while we would make caramel popcorn balls. Oh my goodness what a mess! I would get sticky caramel all over that kitchen! Then there was banana pudding with vanilla wafers, and there were cherry dumplings, and, and..... oh my mouth waters just thinking about it all.
It was a happy home, but things could get serious too, as Mom and Dad tried to raise us right. Raising a family was harder than I would fully understand until I had my own.
I remember one evening when Mom had gotten after my brother and me about something, and she made us go to bed early. I remember lying on my top bunk bed with Dale lying in his bed below. I was SO mad as I lay there stewing about it.
Without really realizing what it meant, I grumbled out loud to Dale, as probably every child has said about their parents, "I HATE her!" Well, pretty soon I heard Mom sitting in her chair in the living room of the little house, quietly weeping.
She had heard me, and even as a little boy I knew what I said had hurt her more deeply than I knew anything could. At that moment I believe I realized she was a real person, trying to do her best in tough circumstances, and I learned how hurtful mere words could be. I climbed out of bed and went in and climbed on her lap and held her. I have no doubt failed many more times along the way, but I don't think I ever intentionally did anything to hurt her again after that, and I have often remembered that experience when tempted to talk about others.
That was one of many lessons I learned from my mother, from my family.
Mom, Elizabeth Pauline Mattingly Strange, was taken suddenly by cancer many years ago.
God bless you, dear mother.
May you rest in sweet peace until we embrace again.
Copyright 2014 by David Strange, Shepherdsville KY. All rights are reserved. No part of the content of this page may be included in any format in any place without the written permission of the copyright holder.