My 95 year old mother recently spent 21 days in rehab due to a fractured sacrum. The discharge doctor was quite pleasant but his heavy accent left us guessing throughout the conversation. It took several attempts for me to understand his parting comment, which I translated to Southernese. “He said you look like Queen Elizabeth.”
“Yes I do!” Mama quickly affirmed with a smile. “She’s sort of average looking and so am I.”
Queen Elizabeth and Mama were born a few months apart and shared some similar features and styles. Mama’s silver hair is natural and I’m guessing the recently departed queen’s was also. Of both it could be said, “What you see is what you get.”
Other ladies from that generation also remind me of the beloved monarch. Their resemblance goes beyond physical attributes to common values. Queen Elizabeth was known for her strong Christian faith. The same is true of my mother and many of today’s senior ladies. An active and abiding faith is the norm.
Resilience is another characteristic of women from that era. Growing up with oil lamps, fireplaces, open wells, and outhouses molded their perspectives. Plus the lingering effects of The Great Depression were not forgotten as World War II began.
An ongoing role of those ladies was being in charge of the kitchen. Much of what they served was homegrown. Daddy tended to our cows and hogs and sometimes helped feed the chickens. It was Mama, however, who caught the hens and fried them for dinner.
I never saw either of my grandmothers wringing a chicken’s neck, but Mama Joiner reportedly had a quick wrist motion that only took a second. My mother, however, was not as efficient. After several revolutions of her arm she’d finally get up enough speed the chicken’s headless body would sail toward the clouds.
A few flaps later the show was over. There was nothing left to do except pluck the feathers, clean, cut, cook, serve, then wash dishes. Looking back it’s quite remarkable that Mama never complained or even asked for the pulley bone.
During my lifetime we’ve witnessed two major transitions involving meal preparation. The chicken-catching phase gave way to grocery store convenience. Then came the option of choosing a drive-through and selecting the sides.
Vegetables were also the domain of women. Mama and Daddy shared the same philosophy when it came to the garden – “We might not make any next year.” That’s why our freezers were packed so full during summer the lids would hardly close.
A lack of enthusiasm was evident in my approach to gardening. Knowing we had at least a two year supply on hand, I’d sometimes think it might not be so bad if the harvest fell short. With that attitude it’s not surprising I wasn’t very good help.
Peas were easy to pick but butterbeans were aggravating. Low to the ground, they were tedious to gather at the perfect stage which Mama considered essential. She wanted them just right, not too young and not too old. With my careless efforts I’d sometimes get dismissed early. “I’ll finish picking these,” she’d mercifully say. “Why don’t you go help your daddy.”
“Are you sure?” I’d mumble as I hastily fled beyond hearing range.
After picking came the shelling. I mentioned rumors of automatic shellers but Mama had no interest in a process she was certain would mash the vegetables. We all helped shell, but it was Mama who washed, blanched, and put the end products in freezer bags. She put such zest into her efforts, I took her hard work for granted. My appreciation was rarely expressed except through hearty eating.
Corn was another staple in our home. One memorable year Daddy filled the bed of his pickup truck with 800 ears he had pulled. He knew it was a lot but figured next year’s crop could be short. Some of that creamed corn is probably still in the freezer.
I don’t suppose Queen Elizabeth ever caught chickens or put up vegetables, but my impression is she would have if there was a need. She was born into royalty but appealed to people from all walks of life. Her exceptional character endeared her to the world. Without a crown, she would have still been worthy of admiration.
There’s a definite resemblance between Queen Elizabeth and my mother. Too many people have mentioned it to be otherwise. When the doctor told Mama she favored the queen she was amused and somewhat flattered.
And if Queen Elizabeth had spent time in the garden with my mother, or helped in the kitchen for a while, I have no doubt she would have felt the same way.
Love it! What a great tribute to your mother!
That generation definitely has earned their place in history. They had a love of doing what was necessary for their families, and doing what was necessary the right way. They didn’t often put up with foolishness and those that dared travel in that realm seldom liked the outcome. Thanks for the memories of gardening.
You can tell your Mom (Princess Maragret) that I have always thought of her as Royalty. She has always has a smile and kind word for me whenever we were together. So sorry for Jimmy’s suffering and passing, He was a great person also. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Sonny
What a wonderful tribute to your sweet mother. She meant so much to Jewell, and she has always been one of my favorite relatives, too!
Thanks for the memories!! Hard work, but what it taught me is priceless.
Your mother is a precious lady!!
Your mother is definitely of the Royal flavor and I have no doubt that she will one day wear a crown!!!!!!!!! Mother really enjoys her visits to the beauty shop! You got any corn bread to go with those butter beans??????
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That describes my Mama too Brother Neil. p&B
Your mama is a real queen in my book!