My parents both grew up very poor. The generation that they belonged to had so many tough times. It wasn’t just finding a job, it was the depressions, the wars, no luxuries that our kids have: not even close. They were raised in an era where death was a regular event. Losing a child? Not at all uncommon. In fact, my dad told me that people had many births knowing that there was a high chance that they would not all make it into adulthood. They needed extra hands to make the hard work of living doable. I know that many of my readers come right through that door that my mom and dad have entered. One has gone back through to a heaven that has welcomed her home.
Times were more simple. There weren't televisions, and they most certainly didn’t have thousands of channels or the internet to choose from. They had to clean their clothes on the washboard. Knuckles bleeding from washing days, but that was how it was done. They didn’t gripe, because their parents had been working for hours before the sun even woke up. These are not the people to whom a child would complain because they didn’t have the game they wanted. These games that cost more than my grandparents made in a month, two months even.
I have discovered that they don’t talk very much of those times, of the little brother and a sister that was buried, and missed silently by a mother without time to grieve. She had a farm to run, or there wouldn’t be any food on the table, or the lukewarm milk that was obtained in the morning, and then put into the cellar that was the “cool” that kept things from rotting.
I know now why it would irritate my parents when I complained because I didn’t like the food that was served. How presumptuous that must have seemed to them. But they finally adjusted to the new modern era, rather than trying to make us understand what luck we had that we had food, a nice house, and didn’t have to work one second with hands calloused, skin burnt, and bones that were more tired than spoke of at the end of the day. The morning was soon in coming, not making a difference what the day was, the same jobs had to be done, like it or not.
I see why so many of you that are my parents' generation, or your parents were, save and understand the value of a dollar. I read how the “American Dream” is out of reach for my kids' generation. I wonder if it isn’t the economy, as much as these kids don’t know how to work. Most don’t get how hard the road paved for them was, so they would have a smoother ride. They are ignorant to the good fortune with many options so absent to those before them.
I have been the one in the family that eagerly takes any personal items of my mom’s that my dad is willing to give up. I think he is doing this now because he thinks it is time, and he is as ready as ever. That is where I found the rocks.
My mom had dozens of rocks with pictures she painted on them. Most are of cats, Picasso style. A few have a flower on them. Every inch of the stone has color and design that wraps my mind into a moment of gratitude that I found these. I cannot imagine my kids' understanding why these little extracts of her skills mean so much to me. Especially the tiny little "Mary" in the right bottom of each one.
She told me once that when her dad had a good week, they would go to the dime store and she would get to buy some paint, and even paper if she were very lucky. When there was not paper, she would use rocks or wood to become her private gallery. A showing now for my eyes only. A gift my heart has drank like water after being lost in the desert.
One little pebble with the beauty of a diamond to my soul. There is a cat, black, and he is smiling. This must have been a really good day when she did this. No depression, no days of being in bed because she lost the verve to get up and to live. Maybe that is how she got better. Maybe her art was the same as my words are to me.
Yes, that generation had it hard. My generation, and the ones to follow I hope take just a moment to realize the sacrifices, the work, the wars, and the graves in the church yard that holds sometimes several children that either never made it to a live birth, or had a demise because there wasn’t medicine to heal. They were pioneers, and I, for one, thank them. My life is good only because of their toil.
I hope to learn the lessons she wanted to give me. Today I learned that art doesn’t need a fancy studio, brushes, or even a tarp. Sometimes a simple rock will do the trick. I have the most beautiful collection! What did those times give to you? Please tell some of your stories. What were the gifts of the past that are your treasures today? Beauty is simple. It is a black cat on a blue stone. And it means more to me than the queen’s jewels. What is yours?
Have a great weekend! Art work on Sunday. Blessings, and safety until next week when we will talk again. Ruth