Friday, May 11, 2012

What My Mother Taught Me

This post is in memory of my mother, Lucile Self Barrow, of Oneonta, Alabama, where her father was Superintendent of Education for Blount County and her mother was an elementary school principal. She was born in 1901, graduated from Huntington College in 1922, married in 1937, became a mother in 1938, and died in 1993.

When I think of Mama, I am selective about the scenes I choose. I definitely do NOT want to linger over her last years. Those scenes are not fun to remember, but Mama was a fun person. She played games, told jokes, teased, and laughed. Oh, how she laughed! A full-time homemaker, she was always there when I needed her. She worked very hard to entertain me. Although Daddy usually wanted to teach me something useful, like how to read a map, take a picture, or use a jigsaw, Mama wanted to teach me that life was fun. My childhood years were so seamlessly happy, filled with laughter, and insulated from conflict that I was shocked when I learned that my home life was not the norm.
Years later I learned that the pretty, black-haired woman who taught me and my friends how to play Hopscotch, Jacks, Snap, Old Maid, Authors, Rook, Touring, Pit, Monopoly, and Carom* was once a teacher of Latin and French, a scholar with a double major in Latin and Greek. She had a beautiful, well-trained soprano voice and enjoyed singing in the choir, but I never really thought about that when she taught me song after silly song, sometimes in the car, sometimes on the piano bench.

Mama taught me to love shopping. We went frequently to Birmingham, where Daddy would drop us off in the Parisian’s block while he went to a teachers’ meeting or to Sears to look at some new equipment for his basement carpentry shop, and we would spend many happy hours looking at clothes. (For me. I realized much later that we never shopped for her.) When I got my driver’s license--Mama didn’t drive--we traveled regularly to downtown Columbus, to Kirven’s, Kiralfy’s, Davidson’s, and Kaiser and Lillenthal’s.

My parents taught me the importance of family. They made sure that their only child had the opportunity to spend time with and get to know and love grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins on both sides of the family. Some of my favorite memories are of family gatherings.

She and Daddy together taught me to pray, read the Bible, memorize scripture, use The Upper Room for devotionals, and treasure hymns. They enjoyed the various activities of our church, particularly their Sunday School groups. From an early age I saw them reading, reading, reading: books, magazines, newspapers. I wonder how they would have assimilated blogs into their reading habits! We often sat together in the living room to listen to the comedy shows on the radio or enjoy music from our collection of 78’s. When I was in high school in the mid '50s, we got our first TV, but they still liked to use the old cabinet radio.

I’ll always be grateful for what my mother taught me. I just wish she had taught me how to cook!

*And Red Rover, Simon Says, Treasure Hunt, Canasta, Checkers, Pick-Up Sticks, Scrabble, and, although she didn’t teach me to play croquet--that was Daddy’s game--she was the one who spent countless hours with me on the croquet court. (The croquet court is a topic I will write about later.)