Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Moms are Special

This is a gardening blog, and it is close to Mother's day, so I will attempt to tie the two together.  Actually that's pretty easy to do since my Mother has probably been gardening since she learned to walk back in 1925.  Born forty-five miles east of Billings, Montana, near the Crow Indian Reservation, my Mom was the last child of ten born to Emma and Sherman, my grandparents. She lived through the Great Depression.  In those tough times my grandfather would be one of many lined up near closing time at the local grocery store on Saturday night to get first dibs on the price reduced overripe fruit.  He'd bring it straight home where my grandmother, along with my Mom and my aunts, would work for as long as it would take to can, or "put up," the almost spent fruit. To this day, my Mom's canned peaches are almost worth pretending to be sick for because she'll always open a can of her delicious peaches when you're feeling down and out.
Mom with one of my brothers

My mom was raised in a family that worked hard. Everyone was expected to contribute.  What she learned in her humble upbringing she practiced all her life as a professional nurse, wife, mother and homemaker.  Along the way she learned to be tough, not in a bad mean spirited or grade school name calling way, but tough where she could take pain and inconvenience without one complaint.  Which leads me to my most recent story of her toughness.

First. She still lives in the same home that I grew up in from fourth grade through college. My Dad has been gone for ten years this June.  She still drives, shops for groceries, goes to Shiloh Methodist Church every Sunday and gardens, albeit in a smaller plot. She just can't manage the whole half side of the garage garden space anymore.  So my brother plowed under her strawberry patch, and that's where she plants a few onions, radishes and spinach early in the season, and later - tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers.  She told me last week when I called to verify her potato planting secrets that she misses planting peas and potatoes because they are her favorite dish around the fourth of July - creamed peas and potatoes, yes, I can taste them at the mere mention.

So about ten days ago she returned from the store and then parked and closed the garage door - all good.  When she retrieved the bag of dog food from the car trunk, she accidentally closed the trunk on the tip of her left thumb.  Okay, I'll pause while you cringe and scream aloud.  So, if you're me, and you live five hundred miles away and she's telling you what happened, how do you react?  I'm still reacting just writing it down and sharing it with the world.  Yikes, ouch, darn, s-word, another four letter word, damn and blast (what they say in the UK) and you fill in the rest.  She kept going and told me the rest of the story, which is that she got her thumb out (somehow) by just moving and wedging it out, over several seconds in time.  She says..."you know your thumb is quite flat on one side, so it has some give."  Give, I say, "Mom, we need to get you an emergency necklace button, like, yesterday!"  "NO, I haven't fallen and can't get up...I've got a stuck thumb in the trunk of my car, come and get it out NOW!"

The story is not over, remember she's tough.  So she goes in the house where she's already made her usual lunch before going to the store - bologna and sliced colby cheese on buttered, white bread with either grapes or sliced apples on the side.  Before sitting down to her lunch, she finds an old frozen ice-pack in the back of the freezer, and then ices her thumb through the meal and the rest of the day. Okay, top that!

Just so you know she's fine. My brother drove her to the walk in clinic a few days later.  She had to have some holes poked in the thumb nail to relieve the swelling and clots.  She didn't take any pain medication, or even look away while the doctor did the procedure.  No, that's my Mom, Madylene, she's one tough lady.  Join me and wish your Mom a very Happy Mother's Day.  If your Mom has passed away, wish another Mom the very best and please, help them with their groceries.  


  1. Hi Betty: I love your blog and reading this brings back great memories of Billings, our neighborhood and my mother. I think it was that era and because our mothers were tough Montanan women that developed their character of strength and resilience along with their love for the outdoors by growing up in Montana. My mother grew up on a black angus ranch outside of Red Lodge where my grandfather was the most amazing gardner. I remember helping him weed and we'd pull up fresh carrots, rinse them off in the irrigation ditch (didn't worry about Giardia then) and eat them on the spot. The soil he gardened in was a rich, near black in color and was truly organic back then. I don't think I've tasted a carrot with so much flavor since then. When I cut my long high school locks off, my grandfather tied clumps of my hair around his garden to keep the deer out. Oh, what great memories. He gave my mother the love of gardening so we all grew up eating wonderful fresh garden vegies. Maybe this is why I'm still so healthy.

    Speaking for mothers and how tough ours were, I remember one story when my mother was using an axe for some reason, maybe chopped fire wood, when a 3" long wood sliver broke off into the soft part of skin between her thumb and index finder. It went all the way through. She called me to the kitchen sink, where she was quite calm, gave me some plyers and asked me to pull it out. No need to see a doctor, as Montana women figure out survival ways on their own. Just like your mother it seems. So I did what she asked, watching the pain come and go on her face, then we put on some antiseptic (probably iodine in those days - ouch), wrapped her up and she went about her work. She left us three years ago after a stroke. Dementia took both my grandfather and my mother - so sad - but they had wonderful and happy lives in Montana. Where women grow up strong, a bit on the wild side, fearless and resilient. Thanks for pulling out some memories in time for Mother's Day. I am now on a mission to prevent demetia and have found a great supplement to beat this evil disease. Let's meet up sometime soon. Viki Mann

  2. Viki - thank you for your story as well, they know how to raise tough Moms in Montana (and our little neighborhood). Yes, let's get together very soon. Betty