Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sue's Young Years as told to Rosemary

Isn't it funny how each child picks up different things from their parents? My brother John, I think, grew up in a totally different household from me. I always have to post my comments to his posts like "huh?" And, I'm sure our two other brothers would have a totally different perspective on our family unit.

This is what I remember mom saying about her young years. In order to keep these posts more concise, as I do tend to ramble, I'm going to break them down into different times of our parents' lives--or at least that of what I can remember. I wish we had started this years ago while my dad was still alive, and we all were a bit younger. These days, mom's memory is getting shorter and shorter. But, hey, so is mine.

My mom was born Lillie Sue Bailey in February of 1924. Her mom died when she was only a few weeks old. There are different stories as to what the cause of death was. My mom insists it was a combination of childbirth and heartache (probably what we would call depression today). She tells the story of how her father, Charles, moved pregnant Jimmie out of town to way out into the country. Jimmie despised the country, and my mom seems to think she was heart broken while she was pregnant with her 6th child (my mom). When she gave birth, there were complications from which she never recovered. There were no doctors close, so who knows the whole story there? On the other hand, the eldest daughter, Mary, says that their mother died from kidney problems. As she was ten years old when my mother was born, she is probably a more reliable source on this subject. I'm sure the broken heart came from somewhere. There is usually a thread of truth in these old stories. So who really knows? There were no medical records for that place and time, unfortunately.

As I said, my mom was born in February 1924, and she celebrates her birthday on the 16th. I remember vaguely when I was about 10 there was some confusion as to what the actual date of her birth was. Since she was born at home, there was no birth certificate. I don't remember the circumstances, but my mom did receive her birth certificate around 1970. And, if I remember correctly, it was merely from her sister's memory that February 16 was the date of her birth. We really don't know for sure.

My mom says she was always taken care of by her closest sister Nita who was eight years her senior. Nita was the mother my mom never had. The two grew up sharing the same bed; and mom remembers Nita having to do more than her fair share of chores. Mom was the baby, and she was treated as such. She said that she was always a cry baby and "wimpy." She tells the story of her dad preparing the wood stove before dawn, and it was Nita's job to get up shortly thereafter to make the coffee. Their dad would call out, "Nita, are you up?" Nita's response "Yep, up in the bed" after which mom says she would get scared and tell Nita they better get up or there would be trouble. They both would always start giggling. My mom says she was pampered so much by Nita that once when she had a sore on her knee and her brother John cut it open with a straight razor to get the "poison" out, and as she couldn't walk for quite a while, it was Nita who carried her on her back everywhere.

There are also the stories of mom and Nita visiting their Aunt Corra. Mom says her aunts were "big women." "That big ol' woman would hold me between her knees and just start brushing all the kinks out of my hair since no one else ever did. I would sit there with tears rolling down my cheeks the entire time." I can totally relate, mom. I remember her doing the same to me when I was a little girl! We both had long thick curly hair that tangled easily. When the two girls would visit and stay over night, they would beg Aunt Corra to allow them to sleep on her "fancy" feather bed. Mom was a bed wetter, and Aunt Corra would say, "Now don't you pee on that featherbed." Both would promise to keep it clean. But mom always would wet the bed, of course. Nita was there to cover it up so Aunt Corra never knew (until after they left, I'm sure!).

Mom says her sister Mary was wild from a very early age; she was 10 years mom's senior. Mary was sent away to Aunt Cora's boarding house to help clean and cook when she was a teen. That was one thing my grandfather didn't need while trying to raise six kids on his own: a wild teenager with raging hormones. I know my mom only finished school through the fourth grade. After that she had to work to help support the family. Mom, without a doubt, did her share of picking cotton. "My little fingers would just bleed and stay sore all over," she says. She refused to wear a hat like all the other workers, and her brothers affectionately called her smut because she was so dark. (They called their brother Ralph "Koot." Dunno. Don't ask me.

I just pulled out mom's old, and I do mean OLD, photo album and this may be one of the earliest photos of my mom. Growing up, we never had a photo album of us kids. I guess my dad being a photographer paradoxically nixed that. Having so many photos, I guess it may have been overwhelming for mom to keep track of them all. My point is, I just don't see my mom keeping a photo album and a journal. I don't remember her being sentimental that way. But I did find a journal that she wrote for Joe when he was a baby. Perhaps she went through so much as a young woman that she gave up early on keeping records. I don't know. It was my Aunt Mary who kept everything. I am more like her in that respect. And, thus the beginning of a family journal, so to speak.


At 6:52 PM, Blogger John Ivey said...

Mom sure did have some curly hair. That would qualify as a 'fro today! That sure is some great history on Mom and her family. I'm looking forward to your next post.

At 10:12 PM, Blogger Rosa said...

Mo betta than a family tree.

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Rosa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 10:44 PM, Blogger John Ivey said...

"Smut" and "Koot" You couldn't make that stuff up!


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