By Doris Schroeder
It’s been over twenty-five years since my mother went to heaven and yet there is still a part of her in me that will always be. When I take a nap on the couch on Sunday afternoon, I sometimes wake up wondering if Mom is in the other room.
Sometimes, when I feel really tired, I find it comforting to make me a cup of tea and remember the assurance that always gave me when I was young and needed it. Mom would heat the water kettle, put a Lipton tea bag in a cup and pour the steaming water in the cup and let it simmer awhile. Somehow when I sipped it, would again bring joy to whatever my little problem was. She really didn’t say much at the time but I could always feel her concern. She empathized with the gesture of the tea and I could usually figure it out from there.
My Mom was a unique person. There were times she really enjoyed telling stories of her growing up and teaching years. I loved to hear her tell them and when our little family of four sat around the big kitchen table on the farm, lit only by a kerosene lamp, I would beg her to “tell us about when you were young, Mom!” And she would tell us about her teaching school in Montana and the time she and the other teacher, Eva, were walking to their boarding house in a snow storm and had to find shelter in a haystack. They were saved by the owner of the house when they came looking for them with their dogs and dog sled.
She told a lot of stories about her teaching in country schools in Kansas. A lady in the Inman Home once gave me a picture of her and all her students at Wolf Creek country school near Inman. I wish I had written down more of her stories.
When we lived in Hutch, we would walk to the grocery store each day since we only had an ice box at that time. While my older sister, Luella, was still alive, she would ask Mom a lot of questions like “Will there be Shirley Temple dolls in heaven?” Mom would wisely answer “There may be!” It was that very summer when Luella was accidentally shot by the neighbor boy and went to heaven. When Christmas came that year, I was surprised to get a Shirley Temple doll and I hoped Lulu got one in heaven, too.
About two or three years later, we moved to my dad’s family farm for a year, then to California two years and again back to the farm. Our days in the country were quite busy for all of us. Dad worked in Hutch at the Sam Schneider Filling Station which was located on West First where part of the Court House Offices are now located. Mom had to do many of the farm chores and I helped.
Dad took his vacation time to harvest the wheat and of course Mom did the cooking. Many times we had fried or baked chicken for one of the big meals and she and I, of course, had to kill the bird the best way we could. I would catch him and hold him down while Mom chopped his head off with the axe. I hated this job but it had to be done. One day the chicken was just nipped and I let go my grip and he got away from us in spite of our chasing him all over the yard. What a sight we would have been had anyone drove on the yard that day. Consequently, for lunch that day, we had potato salad instead of chicken!
Mom had more challenges when Dad worked at night. She had to be alone (other than me, a nine-year-old and my two-year-old sister Carol). The large two-story farmhouse had no locks on the door. One night she heard an old Model A chug up to the back of the barn. Gas was rationed at that time because of the war. We had a barrel of tractor gas located in that area.
Mom lit the lantern and walked out to the end of the yard and hollered in her most fearsome voice “Who’s there?”
It sure scared whoever was out there. A dark shadow jumped into the Model A and took off like greased lightening down our long, rutty driveway He must have been going all of thirty-five miles an hour. It’s a wonder the ruts in the road didn’t swallow him up or throw him out to be at the mercy of my Mom. Needless to say, he never came back again.
Of course, Mom, in her way, continued to be there for both my sister and I through her latter years, always with a cup of tea and a listening ear. When I married my wonderful husband and we were busy with our son and our daughter, she and my Dad were always tickled when we asked them to baby sit…at any time, they would come immediately. If I needed a listening ear, she would hear, with a cup of tea for me.
God knew what He was doing when He made me to be her daughter! I wish we could all have a cup of tea together! Happy mother’s day to all of you!
Doris enjoys your comments and memories at [email protected]