Myself, Millie, Ruby, Raymond - front Melvin
My husband and his siblings joke about growing up in different homes because they all remember things differently. In my case, this is not a joke. I am the youngest of five - my siblings are 21, 20, 19 and 12 years older than I am. All my life I have been mistaken for a daughter of my sisters or my oldest brother. My other brother left home when he was 18 and I was 6, so most of my growing up years was spent as an only child. Ruby, Millie and Raymond grew up on a farm. In a house without indoor plumbing or electricity. My parents moved from the farm when I was 2. To the city. We had indoor plumbing and electricity. I did not grow up using an outhouse, or carrying water to the wood stove to heat for a bath. I did not grow up milking cows, picking cherries for 50 cents a crate, gathering eggs, learning to drive on a tractor.
This summer my sister, Millie, has been here from Kansas and staying with us off and on. For a variety of reasons, I have not been as close to her as I am with Ruby. It has been a great experience hearing stories of my family from her point of view. There are stories I have never heard before and others I have heard from a different angle.
Ruby had rheumatic fever when she was seven and was bed ridden for almost 2 years. Even after she recovered she was restricted from doing a lot of the normal farm kid things because of her weakened heart. So the stories I heard from her were more of my mother and the house. Millie loved working outdoors with my father. Both of my brothers have said Millie was the best milker. She told me many things I never knew - the chores that were done on the farm before going to school - milking, feeding the animals (I never knew they raised rabbits to eat), gathering eggs. She told me she hated to gather the eggs because the hens would peck at you to protect their eggs. She solved this by putting a tin can over one hand for the hen to peck at while she slipped her other hand in to get the eggs. She also said Mama would have had a fit if she would have known.
She talked about the fun things they did going to the lake across the road to wade and swim on summer afternoons; a haunted house my mother and her friend put together for the 4H club, coming home from school to sweet rolls fresh from the oven, how my Dad had to take the battery out of the truck to power the radio so they could listen to The Shadow after Saturday night baths.
There is one story that I just love because it illustrates how gentle and loving my Dad and Mama were. One of the first times Millie drove to town by herself to run an errand she backed into something and dented the fender on the truck. She dreaded telling our parents all the way home. She went to Mama first and told her what had happened. Mama said "I will go with you to tell Dad." Millie said they went to where Dad was pitching hay from the top of a pile. Mom looked up and said "Millie has something to tell you." Millie hesitated so Mom spoke up and told him, "Millie dented the fender of the car." Dad leaned on his pitchfork and said "Well as long as Millie is okay, I reckon I can fix the fender." With that he went back to work and that is all that was said. As I am writing this, it doesn't seem like much, but somehow it wraps up all my feelings for my parents. They worked hard, they loved their children, they knew what was important.
This has been a hard summer for my sister, she has been away from her home for 3 months. She came here because her oldest son had stage 4 cancer. He went home to Jesus yesterday. He is not in pain anymore, but we are. His family will miss him.
The circumstances of my sister's visit were not ideal, but I am so glad I got to spend this much time with her. I will miss her a lot when she goes home.