To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

From my mother (quoted with her permission):

Be not the first by whom the new are tried, Nor yet the last to lay the old aside.

The other day I was trying to figure out how to find the origin of this quote but was not sure enough of the wording to google it. This morning I was purging my favorites list and ran across this link: Alexander Pope Quotes. There it was!

For some reason, my brain is suddenly picking up moments from my life, mostly pleasant, such as the moment Mammaw and I were working in the garden, discussing fads, etc., the pros and cons of fads, and that some people seemed to be the first in the community to have the newest fad in shoes, clothes, etc. Mama quoted the above to me. I think she was trying to get across that if one lets someone else try out something first, it will be more tried and true than to just jump in and get "taken." But, she said, don't be a die-hard and be the last to do something. I guess there was really something deep in that that I am not fully describing, but I have never forgotten all these years.

Now, the question is: When did this farm woman find time to learn quotes from literature, whether poetry or not? I think her (and her peers) only intellectual outlet was reading. What are we missing today, those who are not reading? Then, what are we reading?

My Mama was a wise woman. She left me with some good stuff, and I think I fall far short in measuring up to her!

My mother's mother grew up in a tiny farming community in Mississippi. She had a sad childhood - her mother died in childbirth when she was only six, and the kids were farmed out to relatives - but eventually her father remarried and he and her kind stepmother brought the kids back home. When she wanted to go to school past 8th grade she had to leave her community and board somewhere - ? because the school there didn't go any further. Ma, you need to write all this down. I thought I knew it.

Then she got married, settled down on a farm with no indoor plumbing or electricity (those came much later) and had 8 kids, including a pair of twins. One died of diphtheria as a toddler but the others grew up, some left the farm life and others really didn't. Making a living on a farm, especially before all the modern farm equipment, was gruelling labor and everyone had to work hard just to put food on the table. Leisure time was very scarce. They were poor as far as material possessions went but poor obviously doesn't mean uncultured or stupid. My mother remembers reading - was it The Fall of the House of Usher? one rainy day when she was a kid and having to put it down and go find her mother b/c it was so creepy.

I remember my gentle grandmother and I regret that she did not live to see F, having died shortly before F came along. She would have loved her and been proud of her.

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