Sunday, December 7, 2008

First the parents, now the girls

Having waited 11 years my parents decided to fill the house and did so rather quickly. Margaret came first, I followed within 21 month and than Catherine 23 month after me. Barbara arrived a short 17 months later. Mom thought she was done by the time she had 3 toddlers to cope with as she approached 40. Turned out that rather than an having early menopause she was pregnant with her 4th. I can only imagine how tired she must have been with B. being a preemie and having the rest of us under foot.

Just before Barbara's birth we moved into the 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom house that I lived in until I married. Margaret and I shared the upstairs front bedroom while Cath. and Barb. shared the back. At one stage M. drew a chalk line down the middle of our room and I was forbidden from stepping onto her side. My side of the room was a mess and unworthy of her. She also had a great knack for looking right through me whenever we passed in the halls at school. I was uncool and apparently dressed funny.
Five women, one man and one long soaks in the tub in our house. Teeth could be brushed in the kitchen, hair combed in the mirror in our bedrooms and primping done in the big mirror in our parents room.
Dad enjoyed cooking the Sunday and holiday meals. He'd make the stuffing, roast the bird and prepared the vegetables for Christmas dinner after having prepared a great spread for his annual open house the night before.
He was the one who introduced the exotic into our meals: fiddleheads, headcheese, sweetbreads...all things I never learned to like. He would boil down the bones from the Sunday roast or bird and all week long he would add things to the soup pot on the back of the stove. We girls usually stopped eating it by Thursday.
As we grew older he would tell us that we had to elope during raspberries season. He said he's supply the ladder to the window and once married we could come home, invite friends over and after we picked our own bowls of fruit while he'd supply the whipped cream. We believed him for years.
He taught us the difference between needs and wants, he instilled in us a desire for fairness and honesty and by example, showed that equality matters.
Mom made the basic meat and potato meals, didn't bake, disliked housework, sent Dad's shirts to the laundry and started doing volunteer work as soon as we were all in school.
She learned early on that going to a cottage wasn't a rest for her so we had wonderful traveling holidays and stayed in some rather nice hotels.
I remember her dancing around the living room, she played the piano well and we spent rainy days gathered round singing old songs, she maintained a sense of humour during even dark days and was always, always there for us. She had a way of hugging that made you feel safe and loved.


Jayne said...

Enjoyed reading your memories of your parents, they sound like great people :)

jeanie said...

What beautiful memories of your family, Elizabeth.

I can only imagine the shock to your mother's system with 4 girls in about 6 years after 11 of none!!

Tracey said...

I love those photos! And the memories you are sharing. (Funny I can relate to your mum in a few ways... me with three girls, and my sister, who is much more adept with the sewing and craft stuff, with two boys. (And the hating housework thing as well!)