When I was teaching and working with at-risk students, I taught them things like interview skills, how to iron, how to set a table, etc. We also talked about finding mentors for ourselves. I shared with them examples of people that I had looked up to and ways I had set a plan for who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life. “Find someone, or someones, that you respect, emulate them, copy the parts of them you want and disregard the rest.”
My Grandma Patten was a huge influence on me. Many of her coping skills have become mine: reading, sewing, working outside, baking … Her love and devotion to her grandchildren, I have exceeded at, only because they all live closer to me and I have more freedom and the finances, to travel and have additional experiences with them. Many of these are obvious traits that were developed because of my loving relationship with her.
There was a woman in town, who was a second cousin of my Dad’s. Valdean was tall and classy. She was a member of the sorority in NewTown, she and her husband were considered wealthy (they lived in one of the largest houses in town, which would seem normal, by today’s standards) and she was a great hostess. We, as the poorer side of the family, the country mice as it were, were invited for a few occasions. I remember a couple of parties and dinners. I, very carefully, watched what she did and how she handled herself. I appreciated that when I would talk to her, she appeared to listen, and I think she was curious about how I would turn out. My love of hostessing was developed because of the confidence I had, from practice and from remembering Valdean and her confidence. I knew what I wanted my home to look like and the feeling people should have when they walked in. I was unable to mimic tall, and only on my good days, do I pull off classy. 🙂
It would be unfair and untrue if I didn’t consider the effect of my mom, on me. We would have very early jazz band practices, and I hated and still do dislike getting up early in the morning. Mom would make it a treat for me, by getting up and making hot chocolate, before waking me and enticing me up the stairs, for my ride to town. It was Mom who argued fervently, as I listened through the door, with Dad about why I should be able to be in band. The saxophone they bought me was expensive enough to be considered an investment. It was Mom, who stood by the school bus, as I got on to travel to a band trip, who apologized to me because I had cashed in my savings bonds to be able to go. She took me to 4-H and participated as a leader. I wouldn’t have learned how to make hospital corners, when making the bed, or the practice at making kettles of homemade chocolate pudding. (My Family loved it.) She loved her kids the best she could, it was apparent she tried and succeeded in getting us to adulthood, before relinquishing us to life. Mom taught me many things about how to do the best you can, and about surviving.
We watched the “Waltons”, if you don’t remember it, you are missing out. The Waltons were a family that was imperfect: John Boy was condescending, Mary Ellen was a straight up bitch sometimes, the grandparents interfered, the mother was overwhelmed…but they loved each other and protected each other. They were my fantasy family. I distinctly remembering laying on the floor of our living room, in the semi-darkness, with my family watching the weekly drama unfold. I’m not sure what the attraction was, or why I thought their family was any more normal or attractive than ours, but they were my ideal.
I was pregnant with my third child when his Dad said he thought we should be done having children. I was 26 years old and had a tubal ligation. I wan’t happy about it, I had always wanted a larger family, a Walton’s family. Life works out; I had a round-a-bout way of forming my family. It’s not everything I imagined, it’s more. There has been more sadness, more laughter, more arguments, more fun and definitely more marriages! Lol. As of today, (it could change at any moment) I have three children I gave birth two, two I didn’t and a step-daughter from my second marriage, all of whom I love very much; My step-daughter has three children and I have 6 more grandchildren. Every single adult child is happy, healthy and in love. I hold my breath…….. Grateful…..
Goodnight John Boy, Goodnight Mama, Goodnight Shanna………