February 9th…..”DID YOUR MOTHER BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT, IN HER LATTER YEARS, REGARDING TOPICS LIKE MAY/DECEMBER ROMANCE, ETC.?”
The mellifluous mechanization of Father Time’s clockworks are lubricated by the tender viscosity of ever-increasing transparency as each of us travel down life’s path. I found this to be my observation in the life of our beloved mother, Clarice, who was the firstborn into her family back in 1919. From that juncture in history, till her passing into her Heavenly Home in June of 2017, I caught sight of her ways from stories that were shared from others (and herself), and also from the witnessing of my own parallel journey alongside her since I popped into the world in 1954.
As many firstborns will attest, a number of parents tend to heap great loads of responsibility upon the shoulders of their firstborn child. These progeny are oftentimes expected to “toe the line” of performance and obedience that, to the contrary, second and third-born children sometimes are allowed more forms of leniency.
It is only natural then, as I surmise, that along with that heavy burden of responsibility, a firstborn, such as our dear mother, would learn to please her elders and control her tongue, over the years, to protect and enhance the quality of every day life in her family and of those around her.
Another trait that I saw in our mother, as well as other firstborns, is the positive merit of holding someone’s feelings or emotions in strict confidence. Every family will pass through dark clouds of despair, from time to time, but a firstborn child, like our mother was, was always a stalwart fortress to hold one’s feelings in confidence; protecting those she loved and cared for by being a bastion of care for that person, whoever they may have been.
As years, and then decades, began to pass though, I noticed that the gears of Father Time’s clockwork were being lubricated with a more tender viscosity of transparency for our beloved mother. What used to be locked up within her, for the sake of those firstborn standards of earlier life, were now giving way to a gentleness in revealing her more candid thoughts on issues and people. For instance, as a little boy in our farm days in Kiester, Minnesota, I had run across a large bundle of love letters that our father had written to our mother back in the late 1930’s and early 1940’s. Out of her firstborn tendencies of respect and responsibility to our daddy, we were denied access to what was inside those letters, yet, in her latter days, she gently and willingly became more transparent to us and read a number of daddy’s love letters. It was a sweet moment to capture a glimmer of her and our father’s intimate love expressions to each other.
On a more humorous side of our mother, I found her transparency, in her latter days, caught me off guard and has given me a smile ever since. On occasion, I had the privilege of giving our mother transport to some of her doctor appointments. She had sold our family car and no longer was able to drive herself to various shopping and doctor visits. While driving through the lovely countryside of Clark County Washington, and to pass the time, I told her of the last Civil War widow in America. Her name was Alberta Martin. In the mid 1920’s, her first husband was killed in a car accident, leaving her a widow, all alone in the world, with a child to support. Life was very hard in those days, so, as a matter of survival, for her and her tiny child, she befriended and then married a Confederate Civil War veteran by the name of William Jasper Martin. Mr. Martin received $50.00 a month for his service during the War Between The States and that income would be a staple of security for Alberta and her child. Another child was conceived from this May/December marriage before Mr. Martin passed away in 1931. Alberta then married Mr. Martin’s grandson (from a much earlier marriage in his life) and they were a couple for more than 50 years.
After reflecting on what I had just shared with her, our dear mother gave me her “two cents” on the issue of a May/December romance. In her opinion, Alberta’s marriage to the elder Civil War veteran was not only a matter of survival but was a more acceptable union. What our mother, Clarice, said next caught me off guard and was an interesting point of transparent wisdom I had never heard. “It’s far better to be an old man’s darling, than a young man’s fool!” Quite a gal we had for the mother of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.