Saturday, January 14, 2012
Blog 3: The Younger Years
I don’t know how my mom did it, but she was nothing short of Wonder Woman. She not only worked an average of 50 + hours per week, but she also did all of the grocery shopping, cooking, baking, shopping for our clothes, and even bought patterns and fabric to make us some pretty cool outfits. She took the time to put together some creative Halloween costumes. One year our elementary school won for best costumes in the Halloween parade, and I always believed it was because of the mummy costume she made for my sister Lynda and the baby outfit she made for me.
We were all pretty small framed, so Mom often had to take in our jeans. We liked them tight fitting, so she would make them fit like a glove. I can still see that vision of Mom sitting on the floor with a row of straight pins between her lips, and tugging at our jeans to put the straight pins in down the sides. We would say for her to do it tighter, and she would say we wouldn't be able to move if she did it any tighter. I remember we had to stand still while she put the straight pins in, or else we’d get stuck. She would also embroider designs on some of our jeans to make them one of a kind. In high school she made me a denim swimming suit with embroidered flowers on it. It’s one of those many things I’ve kept over the years.
Mom fixed up the house with some of her hard earned money. She was always rearranging furniture, painting old pieces of furniture, making curtains, and doing whatever to make things seem new and fresh. Our house was so homey! And like I said in an earlier post, the house was barely 1,300 square feet, but it seemed so big when we were kids.
At one point Mom hired a maid to come clean the house and do the laundry. I’m sure the cost to pay for a maid was worth it so my mom could have some time to relax. Can you imagine how much laundry five girls could generate? We would come home from school and the house would be clean and our laundry stacked up on the stairs for us to put away. I don't know how long we had this service, but I don't think it lasted very long.
Out of five girls, four of us played musical instruments. Buying band instruments, reeds, music stands and lesson books, and paying for band uniform rentals and cleaning, not to mention week long band trips across the country, all took a chunk out of Mom’s pocket book. Mom wasn’t able to attend all of our band concerts and chorus programs but she did the best she could. My sister Lynda played the violin and then switched to clarinet. I played the flute, and Annie played the flute for a year or two, and then Renee played the flute all through school. Because she was the youngest and pretty much the only one left in the house by the time she was in high school, mom was able to afford private lessons for her.
We also went to various summer camps and Bible schools over the years and belonged to the girl’s youth group at church. I was in Blue Birds and Brownies and Girl Scouts and some of my sisters were too. There were Christmas programs at church, where Mom would make us matching dresses and do our hair all pretty. Everyone who knew us called us the cute Carver girls. All of the things we participated in meant we needed a ride, and Mom was usually the one to do it. If not, we walked, and if it was too far, we got a ride from someone. For those special programs, of course, we wanted Mom to be there to watch us.
When we were teenagers we got our own phone line because Mom was tired of us tying up the phone. She said she could never use it because one or the other of us was always on it. I can still remember the phone number. Funny how I can remember things like that. We were strictly forbidden from using Mom's phone unless we absolutely had to. I just realized I remember that number, too.
I got my first camera when I was 12 years old. Mom would never let us take her picture. We discovered this would be the case all throughout our lives. We have so many pictures of her with her hands over her face, and her mouth open, saying, STOP! I have to admit that once in a great while, she would cooperate. But you can see the look of displeasure in some of those pictures. I don’t know why because she was always such a pretty woman with a beautiful smile. With blonde hair, blue eyes, 5’4” tall, and a great figure, you would never know she gave birth to five kids. When I was a teenager some of my friends thought she was my older sister. That always made her smile.
Mom would always instill in us family pride. She said the Carver girls stick together. She always said we were her pride and joy. She wanted us to always be close and to always be there for each other. We knew how important we were to her. And we all let her know how important she was to us. We thought we had the best family, the closest family, the family that will never be separated by differences. How could we have differences that big anyway? We were raised together. That only happened to other families. Our family would never be that way, or so we thought.