Mom always retained her astonishment at things that people said and did. She was certainly sheltered from much of humanity’s depravity, despite the hard times she actually experienced as a child.
As the little lady of the house, Mom was responsible for making sure she had her uniform cleaned and pressed for school each day. She had one uniform. The day that the goat ate her skirt from the clothesline was for her a deeply tragic event.
The little lady had once made herself a dress from a brightly colored, parrot print fabric. She would shudder as she described wearing it proudly, hindsight having now set in to how incredibly ugly it must have appeared; but the nuns, knowing the family circumstances, would have said nothing to the smiling little girl without a mother.
Mom used to share how, when orphaned, her brother and she were remembered by the civic organizations in which her father had once belonged. Each holiday season, the two children would attend a party and receive Christmas Stockings that each held an orange, a peppermint candy cane, hard candies and walnuts. What a treat! Mom described the stocking’s contents as though they were as precious as gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Like clockwork, the stockings would manifest each year in Mom’s now familiar reverie. After a few years of repeatedly hearing this story, all Mom had to do was mention the word stocking and The Brat and I would start to tear up; we soon learned to squelch much of the torture by pleading:
Please don’t tell us anymore, Mommy… We will be good, really good… Just don’t tell us any more… We will be happy with what we get, Mommy – anything – that might be under the tree this year will be just fine! Pleeeease stop with the orange and walnuts…
We could take the goat eating Mom’s skirt much easier than we could ever handle the oranges in the stockings. Deep down, The Brat and I both realized how truly fortunate we were; didn’t we also have all the peas at our table that the starving children in China and elsewhere did not?
Funny, but I never heard the kids across the street ever apologize for having so many gifts under their tree…I don’t think their Mom ever told them anything this sad; and she had grown up on a real farm in the Midwest!