|Dad & Mom, June 1971|
My mother wasn’t the cuddly, “warm fuzzy” type. She was a strict disciplinarian who found joy in family, faith, hard work, and music.
She didn’t need an alarm clock to awaken her at 5 a.m. Her biological clock did it for her. She woke up wound up, kept wound up with pots of coffee, and finally wound down after the dinner dishes were done.
Back then, there were no dishwashers, automatic washers, and clothes dryers. Dishes, pots, and pans were washed and dried by hand, then put away as soon as the meal was done. Clothes were washed in a wringer washer and hung on a line to dry. When the weather was cooperative, they sashayed in the outside breeze (after a finger-wagging to heaven from my mom—“Now don’t You let it rain!”). When it wasn’t clothes-drying weather, they hung from wire lines strung through the basement.
Mom never left a job for the next day, unless it was a major project, like knocking old plaster off a wall with a crowbar to prepare it for new plaster. She could snore away on the sofa in peace every evening because her work for the day was done.
Paydays meant trips to the bank, the grocery store, the utility company, and wherever else money was owed or something needed — and she walked because she didn’t drive. Dad tried to teach her, but she ran the car into a telephone pole and refused to get behind the wheel again. We used no credit cards. If the store extended credit, the bill was paid on payday.
She was the family accountant and, because of her childhood poverty, knew how to stretch a dollar. So when Dad was laid off, she knew how to tightening our belts, with using toilet paper for facial tissues and serving meatless meals, such as bowties and cottage cheese or tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches — still two of my favorite meals today.
Technology was on the distant horizon. No one was tethered to an electronic device 24/7, so I had time to learn to play the piano, visit with Baba (our grandmother) across the street, go to the library, and read to my heart’s content.
Life was simpler. We were taught to obey and respect our parents and teachers. If we didn’t, there was a leather strap in a kitchen drawer that was to be avoided at all costs.
“A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1) was one of the Maddock family mottos, as well as “Honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12).
I never realized how much my mother modeled the Proverbs 31 woman until I sat down to write this column.
I only wish Mom were alive today so I could tell her, “Many women do noble things, Mom, but you surpassed them all. I love you. Thank you for teaching me, by example, how to be a wife, a mother, and a woman of character. ”
Help me, Lord, to be a Proverbs 31 woman. Amen.
More tea: Read Proverbs 31:1–31