(a guest post from my mom on the anniversary of my grandmother’s death)
GERALDINE MARY (ADAMS) TAYLOR
Today is the 28th anniversary of my mother’s death and again I cry. I miss her all the time. I can’t say that I think of her every day, but it is often. Several times a month.
I still want to talk to her, to call her about the children’s and grandchildren’s accomplishments; to ask her for a recipe from my childhood; to ask her advice; just to hear her voice again – after all these years.
I have 6 siblings and the seven us shared 2 bedrooms. We were a large family in a tiny house and we were poor. We grew all of our own fruits and vegetables and raised chickens, ducks, geese and pheasants for eggs and meat. We had an incubator in the basement to hatch the eggs and a rotor-tiller to plough the garden. All of this on an acre of land. During the winter, the garden was our skating rink.
Mum jarred, canned or froze (we had a 9ft long freezer chest) the vegetables – corn, peas, beans, asparagus, carrots, onions, rhubarb and made jams, preserves or jellies from the fruit – mint, crabapples, strawberries, raspberries, plums, pears and tomatoes. The apples and potatoes were stored in the basement for the winter. She plucked and cleaned hundreds of chickens when we were young. Her hands were rough and her knuckles were often split.
Mum washed (with a wringer washer) our clothes, hung them out to dry (even in the winter) and then ironed absolutely everything. She cleaned and scrubbed and cooked and baked and sewed all our clothes and relaxed in the evening by sitting with Dad and knitting hats, scarves, mittens, sweaters or darning socks. Mum never stopped.
For our vacation, we went camping every year and as much as we were away from home and able to swim in the lakes, I can see now that it really was no picnic for Mum. She still cleaned and scaled and cooked all the fish we caught, cleaned the tents and even when she was relaxing on the beach, she was watching 7 children very closely because she could swim and Dad couldn’t. She saved my life when I was 5 – the last thing I saw before I went under and lost consciousness was Mum getting up from the beach.
Mum was a stay at home mom until she was 48 and then, when my youngest brother started grade one, she went to Teacher’s College for 2 years, was exempted in all her final exams due to her high marks, and started her teaching career at the age of 50. Two years later it became a requirement to have a BA in order to teach but if you were already working you had to be working towards your degree. So Mum started college classes at night. She did not complete her degree before she died but she was only 2 credits short.
Mum was taken from us much too young at the age of 65 (now in sight for me).
Mum is loved and survived by her 7 children, her 32 grandchildren and now her 5 great-grandchildren. That number will surely grow as her grandchildren marry and start families. Danielle was the first to marry, 7 ½ years ago and of course has had 2 beautiful great-grandchildren for their Grand Nana.
How she would have loved and treasured them.
For years I resented Mum for not being the loving, hugging, sit down and chat mother that so many of my friends had. She was an adult child of an alcoholic whose mother died when she was 14 and I believe that she was unable to vocalize her love. But as I have matured, I realize that she showed us her love every day by doing her very best to feed, clothe and educate a large family.
She did her best and She was an Extraordinary Mommy.