Stepping Into the Shoes
I put on a pot of beans this morning, and as I let them run through my fingers as I “looked them over,” I found myself thinking of my mother. How many times did she do this exact same thing in the mornings before starting her daily chores?
And I realized I was using the exact same old tin colander she had used and would be setting it in the exact same pan she had used to rinse her beans. And at dinner time, I will be frying potatoes in the same cast iron skillet she had used with bacon grease I’ve saved from breakfast — just as she used to do.
I also did a load of laundry this morning, and while I did not use a ringer washer, I did hang them out on the line. And again, I thought of my mother, hanging out her clothes and singing hymns while doing so.
And I smiled as I heard my playlist of hymns blaring from the open dining room window. The music is somewhat different, but it is joyous songs of praise and I know my mother would approve. I could almost hear her shouting, “Turn your stereo up,” as she used to do when I was a teenager and I played the Carpenters, Bee Gees, ABBA or Dottie Rambo in my bedroom.
The chickens were clucking about under my feet as I worked, and I remembered how mother loved her hens. She would scatter grain under the trees in the backyard and talk to them and call some of them by name. Exactly what I do every morning.
Mother and her chickens.
So I made a cup of tea, and sat down on the porch to consider my life. Every morning when I rise, the first thing I do is make my bed (as mother taught me to do), then I make breakfast for Greg, do chores, wash the breakfast dishes, sweep the floors (and porch), and look at what needs to be done for the day — whether its laundry, prepping for the evening meal, making a fresh loaf of bread, doing some house cleaning, studying for Sunday School lessons, or working in the garden.
All things my mother used to fill her days with. I even mend and patch Greg’s work clothes on occasion, just as she used to sit and patch dad’s overalls.
I have never realized before how much like my mother I have become. And how nice it is to know that. I am living much the same life she lived, but with better modern conveniences.
And yet, I still cherish and value the same morals and principals she did. And my home is filled with music, just as hers was. Mother had a beautiful voice when she was young and she sang all day long with or without the transistor radio. I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but I have a Bose Wave for my CDs and a mp3 player for outdoors.
Without intention or design, I have stepped into my mother’s shoes and am carrying on the life she lived as a farm wife and homemaker. And it was a natural thing to do. Part of the legacy of farm life.
I wonder when I am gone if my own daughter will suddenly find herself stepping into my shoes and fondly remember all the things I did everyday as a matter of course. I hope so. Because she will have the old tin colander, the pan, the cast iron skillet, and my CDs to carry on with.
Me and my daughter, Aubry Dilbeck.
Photos property of Leah McAllister.
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