Thursday, May 24, 2018

Missing my dad

Oh, dad...I miss you.

Today is birthday number 106 for my dad. He's been gone since 2002.

Dad was a poor little hillbilly boy when he married my mom. Like others his age, he had begun smoking when he was about twelve years old.

After marrying mom, he would move his little family to West Virginia, where he worked in the coal mines. Later on in his life, the combination of smoking and black lung gave him breathing problems. But, it was the claustrophobia from being in those underground mines that induced panic when a door was closed, or when air wasn't circulating.

Dad was the only one in the coal camps drafted into World War II, and was sent to manufacture liquid oxygen in Chicago before being sent to Pearl Harbor. He would then be called back to the continent when my mom became deathly ill.

Mom rose up against him and joined the LDS Church in West Virginia, along with my three sisters. It was 1948, a time when women didn't always give ultimatums to their spouse.

It was a decision that would change the course of our family.

Dad moved the family from West Virginia to Ohio for three reasons:
1. To find a better job.
2. To ensure better education for my three sisters.
3. To run away from the Mormon Church.

Little did he know that four months after he moved the family here, this area opened up for missionary work, and two of those elders just happen to tract my mom out.

Dad joined two years later, and was bishop when he baptized me on my eighth birthday.

Dad worked hard. We never, ever had to worry about a roof over our head or food on our table, for dad worked his full time job at Westinghouse, then came home to work through the evening at his own refrigeration/air conditioning business. This was in addition to being bishop.

Dad taught me how to sew. He made all of my maternity tops and dresses, but just couldn't bring himself to put in "darts". It embarrassed him.

He taught me how to make some of the best homemade bread on the planet.

He taught me to not have fear in tearing something apart to see what needs to be fixed; and to be careful to remember how to put it back together. It applied to motors; it applied to life.

Mom and dad taught me how to work, and how to be self-reliant; how to prepare for when times might be hard; how to keep my head above water when times are bad. They taught me that spiritual preparation is far more important than any physical preparation I might do.

They were excellent genealogists, and passed their knowledge and expertise on to me. They had listened to stories and gleaned information from people who were had been born in the mid-1800's; but also taught me to take their information and run down the proof.

I had my dad longer than I had my mom. He lived with us for awhile before having to move him to a nursing home. That was one of the most difficult days of my life.

Dad, Mom, Peter...they've been together for awhile now. I think of them daily. Sometimes I say out loud how I wish they would point me in the right direction when running down an ancestor. After all, they're over there with them. Help me out!

I can hardly wait to see those wonderful parents of mine, and give me the thanks they deserve.

They raised me well.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Random Conversations With The Sisterhood

Random conversations with the Sisterhood:

(Backstory: When my parents and three sisters were living in West Virginia, they traveled to Kentucky to visit my dad's grandfather, who always laid on a cot in the back of the house.)

Betty: That's the house where that daggone goat ate my dress!

Me: Why was there a goat eating your dress?

Betty: I was bored being in the house, and went out back to look at chickens and other animals. I was peering through the fence when I looked down and saw my dress gone. Part of it was hanging out of the goat's mouth.

Me: Why did you just move when he started eating your dress?

Betty: I was six years old.

Me: I didn't ask how old you were. I asked why you stood there and let a goat eat your dress.

Betty: I was six years old. At least he left my slip. That's all I had to wear home.

Me: Alright. Was Mom mad at you?

Betty: She was! That was my only dress.

Me: I still don't understand why you just didn't step away.

Betty: Because the goat was eating my dress. I was six years old.

Me: Sigh...

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Betty: Jean, do you remember when that big spider was coming down the aisle at the church?

Jean: I sure do! That thing was huge!

Fern: I remember it, too! We all got up and stood on the pews. Mom got real mad at us.

Betty: She was furious that we were acting like that in church! She kept trying to smack us down.

Jean: But, Grandma Clemens was so happy, because she thought we all had gotten the Holy Ghost!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Me: Why did Mom always say that she or her Mom would get "as mad as a bitin' sow"?

Three sisters: What!? Don't you know how mad a bitin' sow can get? They will come chasing you with that snout going back and forth ready to bite a piece out of the back of you! They're hateful! They're angry! You don't mess with a bitin' sow!!!

Me: I do remember Mom being as mad as a bitin' sow. Now, I know where she got it from.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
More recollections:

The three sisters attending a Greek wedding with my parents in West Virginia. It went on for three days. My sisters were getting squirrelly and hungry, and Mom yanked them out of there to go find something to feed them, then went back to the wedding.

Two of the three sisters out on the tobacco farm with my mom's brothers when they came upon a huge snake. My uncles fought and fought that snake while it nearly was standing on its tail. They finally found bigger branches to beat it with, while one ran for a hoe.

A Gypsy funeral that was held at a funeral home...they nearly had to rebuild the funeral home, for they had a campfire lit in the parlor and a hog roasting in the back field.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
My own recollection, which none of them have:

We were in the interior of my grandparents' house yesterday. It seemed so much bigger than when I was a girl.

I showed my cousin the banister where I used to peek through the rails. When there was a wake (body would be in the parlor -- it was called "sittin' with the corpse), all of the neighbors and friends would start bringing in the food. The house would be loaded with delicacies from around the county.

The men would sit around the dining room table. They would all be catching up on each others' work and lives, when it would turn to religion and politics.

The voices would get louder, and Mom would send me upstairs. I would come down and peek through those rails, and hear those men a hollerin'.

Fists would be waving, shouting would commence, and they would be arguing. My grandmother would shush them out of the dining room, out into the living room, onto the porch, out into the front yard, right on out into the road.

Upstairs, I would be like a ping-pong ball rushing from window to window to see the show and listen to the fighting. It would go on all night. And, it scared my little soul to death.

And THIS, is why I don't discuss politics on FB...or, much of anywhere else. Harrumph...right-fighters!
House built by Corb Stevens - Lawton, Carter, Kentucky