Age provides more insights into mother’s love

By: 

Leah Lehman, Leader Columnist

It is not difficult to remember my mother; it is something I do on a nearly daily basis.

My mother was always busy. If she wasn’t toiling in the garden or her famous raspberry patch, or had her hands elbow deep into a pan of bread dough, she was knitting, crocheting, or sewing something.

When I was a teenager, the three-yard skirts were all the rage, and I had no shortage of them, mostly made by my mother. I don’t ever recall having a true poodle skirt, but my handmade skirts consisted of many hues and patterns. The skirt was simple to make: loose stitch at the waist, which would be gathered to fit, then add a waistband, a zipper and a hem.

As I reminisce about those skirts, I can remember that I often was the one to gather the waistband and usually did the hand-stitched hem. Once it was made, all I needed was a petticoat to puff it out.

I am somewhat ashamed to say that I didn’t always appreciate the clothes my mother made for me. Other girls had things purchased from the store in town, and I always thought those were better. Now, with a little age, and understanding, I know that those skirts, and all the other things my mother made, were her way of showing her love for me.

While my mother wasn’t a woman for a big showy outpouring of hugs, and saying of “love you,” now I know that everything she did showed how much she loved my dad, my brothers and me. We revolved around everything she did.

Mother’s Day has become one more commercialized holiday. In the later years of my mom’s life, I would bring her flowers or some other gift. She never wanted anything I brought. It took a while for me to realize that she didn’t want gifts, other than the gift of my time, to spend with her.

When her hands were in bread dough, she was making bread for the family. When she nurtured the fuzzy, yellow, baby chicks, it was to bring food for the family, as she did with her garden and raspberry patch. Her knitting resulted in wool stocking caps, mittens and socks for her family.

When I grew up and moved away, leaving those three-yard skirts behind, she turned them into quilts. “Waste not, want not” was her motto.

My mother was a plain woman who did amazing things. When I grew old enough to appreciate her better, she amazed me. One thing that blew my mind was how she could take a worn-out adult coat, cut it down and make a child’s coat in its place, all without a pattern. Also, she didn’t use a fancy sewing machine, but rather a pedal Singer machine.

I remember that one year, when our kitchen linoleum was looking quite shabby, she decided to paint it. So, with some sponges, and two different colors of paint, she got down on her hands and knees, and painted the floor, one sponge at a time. It was kind of a checkerboard pattern, and looked great on that huge kitchen floor.

It has been more than 30 years since she passed away, but I remember Mama, and her make-do attitude.