Often it wasn’t easy having such a pretty Mama when I was a young girl. I was awkward and preferred to wear baggy well-worn comfy clothing, while Mama was quite fashionable, even if we did live in a very small town. She liked to entirely change out the wardrobe in her closet with the changing seasons, complete with all the accessories, but I hated having to buy new clothes at all at any time. Our annual shopping for school-clothes in August was drudgery for me but Mama enjoyed it tremendously….probably because she knew that I hadn’t any choice but to go along with her wishes at least once yearly! The only other time that I was forced to shop was for my fancy Easter outfit for church. Now that I think of it….my sweet ‘beautiful Mama’ must have been quite disappointed NOT to have gotten a ‘girly-girl’. Instead she got me as her only daughter, plus her sons after me.
I never did like shopping. She tried so much to get me interested but I only wanted to NOT have to try on clothes, unlike Mama. I’d just rather order from the catalogs, like usual; that’s the reason Mama and Daddy had told us to write our names upon the items that we liked. Back then we ordered from JCPenney, Sears Roebuck, Aldens, Montgomery Ward, and Spiegels catalogs. Daddy used to order our Christmas presents from these catalogs in the autumn. I think this also was the only time he’d even bother to open up the pages of these catalogs because it was always so very humorous to hear him exclaim “Oh, for crying out loud….between you kids and your Mom, I think most everything has names written upon them so big that I can’t tell what they are! Maybe I should’ve told you to write on what you DON’T want! Then I can read the descriptions.” We always got a big laugh, but it was the same thing every year. We knew he’d say it….we’d wait for it….we’d all laugh….but Daddy DID know what we wanted for Christmas (and birthdays), so his system worked!
Mama and her younger sister were raised by their Mother, my loving Gramma, in the hills of Tennessee and were extremely poor. When they weren’t living in a tiny one-room shack, they had to live with their grandparents while their Mama would go to Baltimore to find factory-work with her brothers. So my Mama and my Aunty spent a lot of time as youngsters on a tiny broken-down farm laden with so many children that they often forgot who was their cousins and who was their young Aunts and Uncles and who were neighbor’s kids! Everybody had numerous chores to do in order to get the whole bunch of them fed. In my mind, it’s an absolute wonder how Mama ever developed any kind of a fashion sense at all. Her clothes were an assortment of hand-me-downs. I heard her talk of clothing even being made from flour sacks! But when she & my Aunty were teens, Gramma married an older man and they left their kinfolk in Tennessee to move to northern Indiana to try a new kind of life. Somehow, in her new high school, my Mama figured out how to sew, how to apply makeup, how to make friends, how to lose the hillbilly accent, and how to put together well-coordinated outfits. She must’ve taken her education seriously because she graduated as Salutatorian of her class! She’s also an amazing Interior Decorator, without ever having taken any courses.
When I started getting chubby in elementary school, I hated shopping even more. Mama would buy fabrics and make simple cotton dresses and tops. Sometimes she’d buy an entire bolt of material and make a dress for herself, for me, for her sister and for each of her 3 girls….then if there was leftover fabric she’d cut squares. That’s how Mama got started making quilts. Around northern Indiana she’s kinda known as ‘The Quilt Lady’. She made her very first quilt for me out of tiny little squares that were the size of postage stamps. Much to her dismay, I still have that quilt, although now it is about half-a-century old and ragged. She begs me to throw it away and I keep hiding it whenever she comes for a visit because I’m afraid she’s gonna dispose of it! She has made numerous quilts for her family and friends, as well as sold very many. Last September when she made my niece’s wedding quilt….I think she said that was her 325th quilt! That is quite an accomplishment! All are made by hand; no machine-quilting involved at all. I’m very proud of all the lovely quilts that she’s made for me and do cherish them. I’ve never even owned a bedspread!
I still dislike getting ‘dressed up’. Come to think of it, in the last 2&1/2 years I have gotten dressed-up exactly 3 times: for my son’s wedding, for my nephew’s wedding, and for my niece’s wedding! I am soooo glad that fancy pantsuits are acceptable for weddings nowadays. Of course, even though I got ‘dressed up’, I still didn’t look as nice as my BEAUTIFUL MAMA, nor will I ever! But I’ve come to accept that. I think she’s finally gotten to the age where she’s not gonna try anymore to change me or mold me (or maybe she ‘gave up’ at last!). She loves me for who I am. Not only that, she honestly LIKES me too! No more dressing up for me! Now if I can just get these weddings to cool off for awhile…….