Mother's Day

Mother's Day in our Homestead makes me think about my mother, of course, and it also brings me to think about family and lineage and all that entails.

Many generations of family lived here in the homestead, and that's been nearly a continual thing since the 1940's. My Grandparents moved in to the homestead in that era, and left their stamp on the place. Going back through records and pictures we came across this picture of my Grandmother - Marie (Foulk) Johnson:

Oodles of Love

It's in a little folding paper frame, and on the facing cover she had written "Oodles of Love - Marie".

I suspect the picture comes from a time period before she lived in this house - she grew up in a house just down the road. But I love the tiny window it offers into her personality. I had the good fortune to spend a great deal of time with Grandma Marie growing up, and I have very fond memories of her - cooking in the kitchen, working in the garden, talking about family and family history, and chasing away the cats - the many farm cats that she professed to hate - who were perpetually trying to get into the house. She'd swipe at the cats with her feet or broom and shout ”Here now!" (though "here" was pronounced "hair" for this particular task).

When frustrated she never swore, but would utter oaths in German - I remember heil ich Miona and ach du Lieber Strosak. She didn't speak German - as I understand it, her generation was encouraged to learn English, perhaps to better assimilate, perhaps so that adults could speak freely without being overheard by children, perhaps a bit of both.

I am blessed that I got to know her very well, and this due to a clearly strong relationship between her and my own mother, who grew up in this very house.

Julia and Joel by the Bell

This is a picture of my mother and her brother, Mom striking a jaunty pose, he looking dapper in his uniform, just outside the back porch at the bell post.

We lived for several years in a house a mile across the field from this one. I have enduring memories of my mother talking with hers on the phone - our wall-mounted kitchen phone, with the cord (that had to be twenty feet long if it was an inch) stretching across the room, ear piece cradled on her neck - while preparing breakfast, writing checks, or what have you. I always knew, if I'd heard the start of the conversation, that it was Grandma that my Mom was talking to, because the call would start out with Mom saying "Ma'am? Sam here".

In fact, I have a received memory - one I don't recall directly, but retain from the story being told again and again - of my mother catching fire (briefly) while on the phone with her mother while working in the kitchen, and my toddler-age response being "telephone hot, mama"...

These memories are often on tap, and I firmly believe they remain stronger still with the surrounding homestead to help keep them in focus. On this Mother's Day I find them in sharp focus, and that makes me very happy. My mother did a fantastic job raising us, and the close relationship between her and her mother was a wonderful model to see.

Thanks Mom - I Love You!