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Challenge: What did your mother teach you?


My mother many years ago.

My mother was a plain lady. Nothing spectacular to the world, she loved her kids but never showed it. She took her role as wife and mother seriously. Never once protesting the dominance of my father, although in another era, she might have.


She expected her children to respect others and their belongings. Standing rule was we could not enter each other’s bedroom without an invitation.


I remember the time finding a shiny 50-cent piece on the easy chair. Felt compelled to tell her, hoping to keep my find. Nope. It was not mine, and I knew it was my brother’s as he had been sitting there. She put it on top of the china cabinet and returned it to him in front of me when he arrived home. Honesty was high on her agenda.


She was always resourceful and very frugal, from living through the depression and growing up poor. Clothes patched, socks darned, and so was that dreadful gray and blue wool sweater that four of the five of us had to wear. By the time it got to me, the sweater was tattered and not suitable for school. Glad when I outgrew it.


She taught me how to mend and make over clothes to give them new life. Dresses given her, she either modified them to fit her conservative style or made them over for me to wear.


When my daughter was young, I took my dresses and turned them into cute outfits.


My mother took envelopes from the mail, unfolded them, and wrote grocery lists. She wrote poetry and a few short stories. When she died, they found a bunch of envelopes and other paper scraps with her poems on them squirreled away in various places around the house.


Today I keep stacks of paper that have print on one side. I use them to jot notes or ideas. Some become short grocery lists. My saved paper will end up in the recycle bin, but double service was so ingrained in me that throwing a usable piece of paper away is such a waste.


She kept scraps of cloth, wool, shiny paper, ribbons, buttons, and whatever little bits of stuff that could become a craft project. Kept Christmas cards and wrapping paper, to repurpose or use again.


I am guilty of holding on to many things I probably should toss.


My dad received boxes of chocolates at Christmas from people he did handyman jobs for throughout the year. For a special treat each Sunday after lunch, they brought out a box. We could take one chocolate. Sometimes we got lucky and picked a second one.


This has taught me to savor and appreciate fine chocolate, although I don’t hold out for Sunday after lunch.


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