If you're looking for eloquent words of inspiration, this may not be the post for you. My momma was a plain spoken woman – she called things as she saw them. As simple as these phrases might seem, they help keep me on track, and I've shared them with my kids, too. I also remember her for her sense of humor. She was a bit of a joker – like me. 🙂 (Thus the photo above.) Here are 7 things my mama told me, which I also tell to my kids.
1. All clumsy flesh must come off.
Yep, you read that right. Mom wasn't one to be lavish in her pity or praise. If you were clumsy or careless enough to cut or otherwise injure yourself, it was their responsibility. Losing a little flesh was a reminder to pay attention to what you were doing. Patch it up, get back to work, and skip the pity party.
2. If someone leaves hungry, it's their own darn fault.
Mom always had something to eat when folks dropped in for a visit – expected or unexpected. The food was simple, but good, and always abundant. We may have lived below the poverty line, but with the farm and garden, we never went hungry, and neither did our guests. To me, it's the worst sort of bad manners to invite folks over for supper and not have enough food. You come by my place, and I'll treat you right, and share the bounty of our gardens and other real food.
3. Sh*t or get off the pot.
We had six kids and one bathroom, so this one was literal as well as figurative. When stuff needed to be done, you did it. You didn't sit there and talk about it for hours, you didn't make excuses, you just made it happen.
4. Nobody's going to buy the cow if they can get the milk for free.
This one was a warning to her daughters about the having sex before marriage. If you value yourself too cheaply, others will, too. I think this is worth remembering with regards anything you do. If you don't value and respect your own efforts, no one else will, either.
5. You made your bed, you lie in it.
Each individual is responsible for their own actions. If we screwed up, it was our responsibility to make it right.
6. If someone doesn't like the way my house looks, they can clean it for me. If they don't like the clothes I'm wearing, they can buy me some new ones.
Mom was never big on keeping up appearances. It wasn't that she didn't like beautiful things – she was quite a talented artist – she just didn't have a lot of time or money to spare to afford them, and it wasn't a priority. I have definitely inherited her attitude. My clothes are more functional the fashionable, and my house is only cleaned when needed, not on a schedule.
7. It's hell to get old.
Mama lived this. For the last ten years of her life, she battled some strange autoimmune skin problem that created a red, itchy rash on her face. My sister took her to doctors all over our state and the neighboring one – I even sent her medical records to China since we had a Chinese exchange student at the time and the student's mom offered to help. Mom also battled myotonic muscular dystrophy, which weakened her limbs and made it hard to for her to walk, let alone do the things she loved like gardening and baking. When she finally passed, she went with a smile on her face, and I knew she wasn't hurting any more.
Mama's health problems are a big reason that I started researching natural health, and that I share what I find in my blog. I wish I had known then what I know now – maybe she wouldn't have had to go through hell on earth?
I can't change the past, but maybe I can help my friends and loved ones in the future, and maybe I can help others. If I can at least do something, anything… I wouldn't feel so blasted helpless.
It's been over two years since mom passed away, but I still find myself dialing her number on the phone sometimes. This time of year I think of her often, as we always worked side by side in the garden, and used to swap stories (and plants) when we couldn't garden together. I still dream about her in the garden at times.
Do you have any phrases that your parents or grandparents have passed along? I'd love to hear them.