Sunday, June 16, 2013

The old lady

She was in her eighties when we met. I doubt that was 5 feet tall, a petite and round little jewel.
She liked to wear turbans over her silky white sparse hair. Only cotton dresses just down to past her knees and then two fragile looking legs moved her down her steps to admire her flowers.

White flowers were her favorites, she loved the white roses and at one time in her life she had a garden full but also a big vegetable garden.

When you talked to her you could see her eyes dancing, now and then she would giggle, a little girls giggle.
I never saw her angry but I hear that did happen once in a blue moon. It seemed like life for her was on a scale and the scale always stayed in the middle. It did not tip to the sad side nor to the very happy side.
She did take it one day at a time without fuss.

She told me that she was born in Indiana, she'd giggle at that and exclaim I am a Hoosier !.....
My father was a builder and a crook. Often we kids were packed up in the middle of the night and on
to another town and start all over again.
"That is why, she said, I never got to keep my dolls, they were always left in the last house".
Now in the winter of her days she would enjoy the dolls she had collected and received as presents from her kids. She would fix their hair while she'd talk about the past and she would just grin.
It was like a victory her.
She now lived in Santa Cruz California.

She came from a large family, I forget how many but sisters and brothers all over the place.
Her mother was a Christian Scientist, so she followed what Mom taught her.
It must have been early in the stages of Mary Baker Eddy's movement.
She like her mom, read every day her lesson. The Bible and a designated part in the Science and
Health book by M B Eddy. It was a routine she did not want to miss, it set the tone of the day and she'd smile. It was a religion which worked for her.

One day she took me aside and showed me what appeared to be shingles. She was in great pain. My mother had them for almost a year. I knew what that was all about. In between the pangs she'd giggle and say that soon it will all be gone. It always works that way, was her comment.
I was in misery to watch her, I begged to take her to the doctor, she'd answer "No Way!"
Then I struck a bargain with her I said I give you 5 days till I come back and if they are not gone I will take you to see someone.

She thought it all very funny. She said :"My practitioner is "working" for me, it will be gone because it is not truly there" I had heard that song before and I had seen healings but I did not have the faith.
Upon my return she quickly dragged me in the bedroom the sores were almost dried up and no longer hurt her. She giggled. Oh! Yeh of little faith came to my mind and I had a hard time believing what I saw. The skin looked like my Mom's by the end of a year struggle and vitamins.

She delivered 8 children. 4 boys, 4 girls. By the time the last one came in 1933 she told her husband that the bed was now off limits. No more. She told me that she figured enough was enough.
Her husband was a house painter and it was said in Santa Cruz that when he finished a house  the paint job would last 50 years. In fact in 1969 I was shown a Victorian mansion which he had painted years ago.It looked like brand new paint. Problem was that he had severe asthma attacks and he scoffed at C.S. religion and did not get much help from the medical front either. The fumes of the paint would put him in bed for weeks. Much work he could not accomplish.

War came and she had 4 stars on her window, her 4 boys all gone to fight and kill. I believe they were all in the Pacific Theatre. One of them became a Marauder, their battles were horrible in Batan and all over the area. A miracle he made it home.He is now listed with the other Marauders on their site. The last son was short of his High School graduation by a few days when the Army told him to come and be ready for the Philippines and the General with the pipe. He had just turned 18. His big adventures outside the beachtown was to get a bus to San Francisco to see a Disney film. Now he was on a boat to islands.

That boy became my husband in 1969. His mother treated me with so much love and tenderness that I could never forget her. She told my husband that she had tried to see what faults I had and she could not find any. (I could have given her pointers). She accepted me like her own and also my two girls my husband had adopted. My girls were in heaven and always wanted to hug and kiss her , all their relatives were in Europe and they needed a "Grandma". She'd laugh and tell them "Get off me you silly girls". She did not like all this kissing business. She did the same to my husband and me.

In 1970 we decided to move to Spain for 5 years, get the girls away from the rapidly growing drug scene of the West. I was afraid to tell her. When we did, she just looked at us, not a whimper not a tear. She said:You got to do what you got to do, just write me often and I will too. She did!!

In Spain we had a baby boy and she was excited in her mail briefings. In  late 1974 we came home to live in the East coast quite by accident and we promised her that we would visit very soon.
I can't remember what year we finally made the cross country trip with our son Bobby.
I could hardly contain myself to show off this kid and our teen age girls. The girls ready to pounce on her.

She opened the screen door and said:"Well look who is here!"
Come in. She still looked the same, the turban was snow white on her white hair but the red apron just gave her a bit of color. Her skin was always like parchment, so fine and gorgeous even with a few wrinkles.
We rushed in and she turned to us with a big smile and said: Sit down a spell because I am watching my show and will talk to you later. The show was Lawrence Welk and his polkas.
We called the sisters and we crowded the small house like sardines in a tin.
We were back and she was still alive. All of us in tears and hugging and she said: "No reason to cry they are back, enjoy and don't have fights". (brothers and sisters do that sometimes).

Her house had been built in 1926 by her husband and his friends and family. 4 rooms later a bathroom added on a large piece of land.  Up the street a bit the Pacific Ocean, play ground for the children when Mom was tired. The house was made from wood, left overs from a church which burned and the family gathered all what was usable.
She loved the house, she had lady friends come and pick her up and visit with her.
I believe she passed on at age 87 , she never had medical help in her life. Never had an aspirin. Never saw a nurse or a doctor.

My husband  took over the spiritual teachings of his mother. He was and died a Christian Scientist.
Even when his memory was gone he would tell me :"You know I am a Christian Scientist". I smiled and said I know , dear. He took lessons from Kay Kyser (musician and big band leader) then in Chapel Hill N.C. Kay was also a very well known practitioner for Christian Scientist, he also was able to give lessons in the field. Something very much controlled by the Church.

Bob studied with him for some time until Kay felt that he was ready to do some healing work.
He did but for the family and if someone asked him.
When his mother was  near her end she was in a C.S. Home in San Francisco. His sister also was ill with cancer of the throat. He "worked" and "worked" hours and hours for their healing and it was not to be.
When his Mom left us he was devastated , the same with his sister. He could not function very well as he was a very emotional person. For 2 years he did not put a paint brush in his hands. He brooded.
He told me he just could not work. After 2 years my dander was up and I just told him that he had to do something, work in a grocery store or do things to help others in a physical way. We were quite broke by then and he had an agent who was begging for his work.
The thought of being a bag boy shook him a bit so he went back to painting gorgeous still lives, portraits etc...

My mother in law was an absolute angel to me. Maybe she is still watching over us and has her son back...maybe...maybe...wish I could believe it.

No comments: