She made a special trip the other day just to bring me a bit of news about school. She exempted her history final with a score of 95, and she knew her history buff grandmother would be very pleased.
But her news was overshadowed by a little episode on the carport. As she was coming in the door, a tiny chickadee was perched near the door, chirping loudly and floundering in frustration.
Nature lover that Blake is, she picked up the little bird and began to stroke its wings and coo to it. They bonded like two magnets. I’m sure the chickadee was saying, “Are you my mother?”
PawPaw dug up a worm, and we crumbled a cracker and tried to feed the hungry critter, guiding it to a bit of water as well.
We talked baby talk to it, tried to explain that it needed to allow Blake to put it down. When our voices stopped, the baby immediately began squawking loud and clear.
Then we would try again to talk it into dislodging itself from Blake. It was actually a conversation, back and forth. We got the message that Blake was its mother and it would be going with her.
When Blake left our house, the chickadee was on her shoulder, clinging tightly to her shirt. Before the day was done, Blake had seen the baby bird gain its independence and it was gone.
P.D. Eastman’s story “Are you my mother?” had a happy ending. I can only hope our little chickadee didn’t think the neighborhood hawk was its mother. We will never know. At least it served as an appropriate parable during the days leading up to Mother’s Day.
By the time you read this, my family will have attended the annual reunion of descendants of John B. and Sarah Kaiser Waters.
The matriarchs have all passed away … Sarah K. Waters, mother of one son, my grandfather Samuel Jasper Waters, and many daughters, all matriarchs in their own right.
Sam’s wife and his sisters guided their own households and instilled in their many descendants a love of family and a desire to preserve memories and treasures.
One of my precious treasures is a collection of photographs in a single frame of mothers and daughters through eight generations in my family tree.
Beginning with a grandmother of my maternal grandmother and following down to our great-granddaughters, it tells a visual story of at least one branch of the family.
Most of my growing up years were spent in the country, too far from a city to know what I was missing by not going “shopping” very often, or by not realizing that holidays had a commercial aspect. We knew about Mother’s Day, but our celebration was limited to a couple of traditions mainly centering around church.
By the second Sunday in May, roses were in bloom and all of us … men, women, and children … wore a red rose pinned to our shirts if we were fortunate to have a mother still living.
If our mother was deceased, we wore a white rose. This was our way to honor this special person in our lives. During the worship hour at church on that Sunday, several mothers would be recognized and given gifts.
The oldest and youngest mothers in attendance and the mother with the most children present would be honored, usually with flowers. (A pot roast with all the trimmings would have been a more thoughtful gift. Most mothers had to hurry home from church to get Sunday dinner on the table!)
One of the perks of growing older is that the children do the cooking and the oldest mother is none other than … me!
Over 100 years ago, William Wallace said, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.”
My personal world was definitely ruled by the hand that rocked my cradle, and I give tribute to my own mother today.
My recent fact-finding trip to Pennsylvania, the state of my biological father’s birth, gave fresh insights into my mother’s life.
I have come to appreciate her even more as I see glimpses of her as a young wife and mother, facing life in an alien culture, thousands of miles from her beloved home and family, with a husband 32 years her senior.
What a girl! What a story! And what a mother! I miss her still.
Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.