I have memories. Memories of my Grandma Hattie, my Grandma Nannie, my mother Lucy, all women who made a home, fed their families, worked outside the home and did so with little or no money.
My mother was born a week or so before the Stock Market crashed in 1929. She never knew what life was like without being needy, poor and probably, scared. I’m sure my grandparents were scared when they couldn’t pay the rent on their tenant farm and had to leave. I’m sure my grandparents tried hard to sustain the life they were born to. They couldn’t do it. Off to town they went, in 1939, so one of the family could find work. It says a lot about my grandfather that my grandmother was the one to go to work.
I grew up in the 50s and 60s. It was an idyllic time, although it didn’t seem so then. I remember always waiting for someone to blow up. My family was a bit ah TENSE. My father worked 14 hour days to keep us in food and shelter. My mom tried to work but her leaving for work when Dad came home was hard. And she couldn’t make what he could out moonlighting. That’s what we called it – him remodeling houses, building additions, redoing kitchens and bathrooms. It was moonlighting. It fed us.
Mom was all about convenience when it came to food. She still did the long-cooking suppers, but we had canned vegetables, Jell-o desserts and a lot of boiled potatoes. Usually we ate beef. I think Dad had issues with pork and chicken. I know he did with hot dogs. Lord he would thrill us with a description of what was in those things. I’m surprised Mom didn’t smack him into the next century. I would have.
I liked to bake. Mom let me have the kitchen on Sunday afternoons and I would make rolls or crescents. I got interested in cooking, baking, preserving and gardening because of Grandma Hattie. She grew a marvelous garden, with the help of Grandpa Carey. She put up green beans, tomatoes, vegetable soup, apple sauce, apple pie filling and things I can’t remember. I loved her garden, especially the flowers. There were two kinds of grapes, green and concord, both growing on the well and the cistern. There were corn stalks which lined the walk to the two-holer at the back of the garden. There were peas, beans, tomatoes, squash and onions.
When my grandfather died in 1960, Grandma Hattie couldn’t stay in her home by herself. I know Grandpa’s death depressed her. She truly never got over it. She used to rock in her chair, lamenting that “I don’t know why a body can’t die when a body has nothing left to live for.” Whew, grow up wth that!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In my high school years, I was prompted to decide “what I would do” when I “grew up.” I secretly wanted to be a housewife and mother.
I was born in the early 50s, so I was on the “edge” of the feminism movement. By the time I was 18, there wasn’t a whole lot of interest in being a career woman going around. I had few choices of possible careers, namely teacher, nurse, secretary or WIFE. Going to school to get a Mrs. Degree sounded doable so I did it.
Woe was me during my first 3 years of college. I had two long-term boyfriends, neither of whom am I sorry went out on me and married their little sluts. LOL. That’s fine with me, both of those men were serially boring, sexually and in every other way. One grew up to be the manager of a Burger King (glad I skipped THAT economic thrill) and the other grew up to be a park ranger. That too I am glad to have skipped. Plus, the second one couldn’t keep his dick in his pants, so I know for a fact he’s been screwing around on his “wife” forever. I should know, I was one of the ones he that he screwed. Not well, I’m sorry to say.
I had enough of college twice, once in 1971 and I dropped out and again in 1972 when I dropped out for good. Then I was stuck at home, with my mother and father, trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do. I decided to get depressed and spent a year getting over that …………….
In the summer of 1973, I decided I needed direction. So what do I do? I go to beauty school which was guaranteed to be a great class but a horrible profession. You need talent. I had neither talent nor enthusiasm. Try sticking your hands in someone’s dirty hair 20 times a day. Yuck.
I putzed around in that job for two years and then I decided I would rather flip hamburgers, or in my case, Arby’s Roast Beef sandwiches. I still love Arby’s. Too bad there isn’t one where I live because I would be there.
I worked full time at Arby’s for a couple of months, until I found a job working with developmentally disabled adults in a residential facility. That job, I loved. The people I worked with were fun, the resident situation was a little strange since there would be tantrums almost every night. It was guaranteed we would have Tanya down on the floor with her arms behind her back once a night. You had to watch her, she bit. She was a nasty little sucker!
But, all in all, the job was fun. It wasn’t like working. The most onerous thing I had to do was make sure the girls got showers and actually washed while they did. Then supper would be served, Mickey might start throwing dishes if we didn’t get the tables cleared fast and Jim would come up to the staff table and scream “Too fat!” several times while trying to steal more food. Then maybe Linda would get nasty, throwing stuff at us. In between the excitement, we would sit at the staff table and laugh like hyenas. Elsie was the usual LPN on my shift. She was in her late 60s, from a town where my parents had lived and generally HILARIOUS. I can remember her asking me one day if he died. I said what? She said you know, the clown you stole those shoes off of? LOL.
Well, as luck would have it, a man moved into the house attached to my garage apartment in 1978, two years after I started at Opportunity House. My girlfriend Mary, who later became somewhat of an enemy, told me he was probably my future husband. He was. We got married about 6 months later.
I lived by myself for a lot of years before I met him, so I was used to quick meals, usually something frozen or tres simple to cook. I had a learning curve because my new husband liked soup and he didn’t mean stuff from a box or a can. I spent years trying to figure out how to flavor soup. It was beyond me, until I did it enough that I got the hang of it.
Then there were things he didn’t like. Some of these he didn’t share with me for a year or so. Like fish – he hated any fish except tuna. Oops. I gave him lots of fish. Then there was peanut butter, which he explained early on. Fine. No peanut butter and no nuts of any kind in anything. Ditto raisins, no raisins anywhere. No rich sweets – I should have known then that the marriage was doomed to boredom because I have a decided liking of super sweet rich chocolatey desserts. Poor man.
I first began to feel like a housewife when we bought our first home. It was a few months after we married and I was able to decorate my home myself, for the first time. We moved so many times after that, I’ve lost track. But everywhere I went, I made a home.
And now, I’m doing it again. But I have questions because my spouse doesn’t see our home as permanent. He wants to build us a home. Maybe a not so tiny house on wheels, or maybe two or three …………………. so I don’t know if I should “nest” or just leave it. I am conflicted. I hate building gardens and painting walls and paying for new roofs and then I MOVE AGAIN ……………… sigh. Someday I will live in my forever home. I like this one. ………………. sigh.