When she married, my mom abandonned her career, dental technician, to become a wife and mother. My father had an itinerant job, in the early days, and they moved pulling a small trailer with their earthly posessions. Until I was in high school, we always rented apartments or houses, never very nice, never very big, but as a kid you don't really notice that stuff. At least I didn't.
My mother filled her hours with a number of passions: gardening, cooking, women's clubs, collecting, Eastern Star, friendships, bridge, fishing and trying to mold a stubborn daughter into a young woman, the most challenging and fraught with failure task.
She collected stamps, a lifelong hobby, and in later years she branched out into antiques (Depression glass, brass, bells, and salt cellars). She has a fantastic colleciton of memorabilia from the Space Program: all the stamps, first day covers, autographs, newspaper clippings, really cool stuff. She had prizes in flower arranging.
She had a photograph of the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima, and has a scrapbook with autographs from the survivors, the generals, all the history. This week, when the photographer, Joe Rosenthal died, I had to remember her collections and I printed out his obituary and discovered the other survivors of the flag raising had also died, and I printed theirs, too.
My mom was single-minded in her purusits, and thorough in her documentation and collecting. I never really appreciated her talents as I was growing up, but now I do. She also collected rocks and shells. Never liked to throw anything away. When she moved to senior housing and I cleaned out the house, I found perscriptions that went back to the 40's. Old cosmetics dating to the 50's. Spices at least 20 years old. My dad had meticulously filed his junk mail. Parents, being people, are strange.
Love them for what they are. I wish I had asked her more about her youth, her hopes and dreams. As a kid when I asked questions, she was evasive, but I don't think she would have been to me as an adult. It hurt to toss all her garden club medals and so much memorabilia, but after all, what is one to do with it? I hope I kept the important stuff.
In this day and age she would have had a career, and with her organizational skills and peristence, it would have been a pretty good career. No more housewifery. Let's raise a glass to women of the old school who kept the house clean and then did so much more.