It’s hard to believe it has been two years since my mother died. The world seems like such a different place, even though two years is but a speck over the course of history.
While merely coincidence, Mom’s death seemed to send the universe into a chaotic spiral. I feel like I’m living in perpetual survival mode, just like I did when I was a caregiver. Mom’s eternal optimism would have been sorely tested over the last year or so.
The grief is less oppressive and not as constant at this point, but it continues to lurk in the dark alleys of my mind, popping out like a villain in a movie from time to time. The “should’ve, would’ve, could’ve” mantra hasn’t been silenced quite yet, but I’ve been able to turn down the volume on the second-guessing for the most part.
Just like in this photo of Mom, I will spend the day writing. She always loved this photo, which appeared in the yearbook. Mom took her education seriously, which wasn’t always a given for farm families when crops could trump classes. I inherited a similar love of learning from both of my parents, which is a precious gift that I use every day.
I don’t know much about my father’s school days, other than his story about the nuns in the Catholic school rapping the knuckles of kids with a ruler if they misbehaved. I’m not sure how much my father learned during those years, but as an adult, he was always educating himself through his lifelong love of reading.
My mother enjoyed her school days. Perhaps that was because school wasn’t a given for farm families living in rural communities near the Great Smoky mountains. Many kids were pulled out early or for periods of time to help with the crops. My grandparents did not consider education to be a luxury and instilled the importance of learning in their children. My mother was an eager student and was forever grateful that her parents supported her desire for a good education.
Just like you would read in a book, my mom’s early school days consisted on a “one-room” schoolhouse that had different corners for each grade. It was a very different educational experience than the massive schools that kids attend nowadays.
A teacher asked my mother if she wanted to pose for a photo project, and she agreed. My mother always received top marks on penmanship, and she liked this photo because it illustrates prominently that she was left-handed. My grandmother was apparently punished for showing left-handed tendencies when she began school, as it was considered to be “evil” so she was forced to adapt to writing right-handed.
Mom’s love of writing continued throughout her life, as she loved to pen letters to friends and family. She also used “old school” ways to keep learning as an adult, such as opening the dictionary to a random word she was not familiar with to expand her vocabulary. I remember her doing this daily as a child.
Perhaps that is where I got my love for words!