Mind Pictures

{Some few years ago I began to write memories from my childhood of the people who peopled it, so this is the first part of those mind pictures imprinted on my childhood memory}

This began as just a few of the things that stay in my memory of the woman who gave birth to me and raised me but may progress to other aspects of my growing years and the people that inhabited them.
Maybe the foremost thing about Mum was her always being there. She was a constant all the days of my childhood; the only times I remember her being absent were when she birthed younger siblings, or when she was ill.
The first time I remember her being ill I saw from the comfort of my bed, that my father and elder brothers were carrying her through the living room on a mattress. I didn’t see but I knew, that they placed her on the back of my father’s truck, which was our transport then. I waited for them to return, whether I slept or not during the interval I do not know, but I saw my father carry in the mattress without my mother on it and I waited for her to walk in behind him, but she did not appear. The next morning we younger ones were taken to our neighbour’s home where we found our mother being cared for in bed. I don’t know the nature of her illness because I never thought to ask her, nor do I know how long she was away from home but I well recall the bereft feeling that swept over me the evening she did not return with my father and brothers.
When my four younger siblings were born we older ones who could not be left at home, were taken into the homes of relatives or friends of my parents, until she came home with the new baby.
When I was twelve years old, Mum went to hospital for a serious operation and was hospitalised for a month. I was exempt from school, which ended my formal education, as I was needed at home to care for the family during Mum’s absence.
This was a big ask of a girl of my age and I remember my aunt from next-door coming sometimes on washday to give me a hand. I look at the girls of today of that age and am thankful for the training my mother had given me previous to that time as to how a house was managed. All the tasks were harder then because there were no things such as electric washing machines in our home, or in homes generally, we did not even have a hot water system. Hot water for doing the washing was heated at first in a wood-fired copper, later an electric copper was purchased. All clothes were washed by hand and if they were of boiling material, then boiled in the copper, lifted out with a “pot stick”, and rinsed twice and wrung by hand, before being hung on the line to dry. When dry, they were ironed with a “flat iron”. This was an iron made from cast iron and with a flat plate on the bottom; it was stood in front of the fire to heat-or placed on top of the wood-heated stove. Two or three irons were used at the one time so that there was always another one heated when one was replaced because it had cooled. Thus washing day and ironing day was a large chore and I have clear memories of my mother doing these things.

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7 thoughts on “Mind Pictures

  1. Oh my word! I can’t imagine looking after a family of four now, aged 28, with washing machines and fridges and microwaves, never mind the way you did! I am awestruck and impressed and amazed, but also upset that you had to.

    • It may seem hard now, but it was just the way it was then. And it did me no harm, in fact probably toughened me up for life.
      My Mum who had these conditions for a lot of her life, almost all the time when raising us nine kids, lived a fit life until she was in her early nineties. She suffered a stroke then and was incapacitated for three years, dying at 96, so maybe hard work isn’t a bad thing eh?

      • Hmm.. You’re probably right – there’s almost definitely something to be said for working hard, I just can’t get my head round 9 kids, or no washing machine, or any one of the many crazy parameters you worked with..

        I have enough problems with my cushy job and my 2-people-household!

        What did you/she do to relax/counteract the hard work?

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