Filling in the blanks

Do you ever wonder what it was like for your parents when they were kids? I don’t think about my dad’s youth as much as I do my mom’s. That’s probably because she was the rule-maker of our home.

And the enforcer too.

When I was a kid, I didn’t think about or care what made her the way she was, I was more concerned with ducking her flip-flop as she tried to swat me with it for not doing what I was told.

But as an adult, I have to wonder what it was like for her growing up in that little farmhouse in Michigan with four brothers and three sisters.

She was born in the spring of 1924, unless you go by what her headstone reads. Not sure how that happened, but it’s off by a year. She was the second child of eight, in a home that would soon be crowded. 

My Mom's Headstone
My Mother’s Headstone

She was also a daughter, during the Great Depression, to simple farm folks trying to survive during a time that was filled with uncertainty. I have only one photo of her as a child, and not one photo of her smiling.

My Mom is that little girl in the front center. This is a school photo from 1929-1930

I can imagine it must have been hard growing up in those times, and know that must have shaped her and her parenting style. But I wish I had more information about her day-to-day life when she was young.

By the time she was my mom, she was 35 and had already experienced so much hardship.

I was also her ninth child, so I don’t think there was a lot of patience left for me. Can you imagine having nine children by the age of 35?

Me, my parents, and my brother David

Looking back now, I can sort of understand why she had some of her rules, but back then I just thought she was mean. One of the most frustrating rules for me was, I had to clean my plate of all the food she had served me.

She would make me sit at the table, for hours if necessary, and finish every bite of food on that damn plate. I’m surprised I don’t have food issues from that, but maybe I do and don’t know it.

I hated eating meat.

The reasoning behind that was, the meat I was eating was out in the yard or a pen earlier and it had eyes and ears and a mouth and a personality. At least I imagined it had a personality.

So I devised ways of tricking her and the system to get the food off my plate, but not in my mouth. I got good at it too. In my heart I want to believe she knew of my tricks and gave me those wins, but I know that’s not the case.

She wasn’t the kind of mother that gave us wins. Could it be because she had so few triumphs in her life? I’ll never know the answer to that question, and so many more.

So I make them up to fill in the gaps and blank spots of who my mother was. And that will just have to do for now.

Reader Comments

  1. Andy

    9 kids by 35??? Wow Loretta! Times were so tough for those women. My grandmother had 13 kids, including 2 sets of twins! My mom was the baby, raised during the depression…there were two younger sisters who died from whooping cough. I can’t imagine the grief of losing babies. But even so, my grandma was so sweet and kind and joyful. I don’t know where she pulled that joy from. But she did. And my mom always felt loved, and loved her mom back, and because of that I always felt love.
    This was a ramble, I know, but your post really touched me. Thanks for sharing…

    • Loretta Sayers
      Loretta Sayers

      Andy, thank you for sharing that! I love that you shared a little piece of your story with me too.

      My Mom’s sister lost 4 of her children in an auto accident, and she still found joy in her life. Not sure why my mom was so unhappy.

  2. Patti

    She would be so proud of the woman you have become! And maybe a bit in awe of the opportunities and choices you have had that weren’t open to her.

  3. Amy Kennedy

    Wow! What a great story! Your mom is beautiful! And while there were probably some bumps in the story, I know one thing. I am forever grateful to her for having you… #9… that was just what this world needed. And here you are now inspiring and encouraging people. And there is no telling where you will take it next! My folks grew up in the Depression too, and those times took the smiles off the faces of many people. Are you close with your siblings now?

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