Mom

by Jean Wayt

I wrote a story recently about the hard time we had when we first came to Colorado and the terrible three-day blizzard that hit us in the mid 1940’s. I wasn’t completely satisfied with it and didn’t realize it for a while until my conscious started digging at me. Then I realized that I had had left out the most important person the family -- my Mom. She seemed to be in the background and I’ll take complete blame for that, why? Altho dad was the provider mom was the “do-er“.

Mom’s mother, Effie, died when mom was 8 years old leaving her, Iva, a sister named Edna 10 years old, and a brother, 6 years old named Clifford, motherless. All three kids were raised by an assortment of aunts, uncles, and other people. Their father, George Shirley, tried to do the best he could, which wasn’t much but I won’t write any more about that. Needless to say the three children had a very hard upbringing but they persevered.

Mom was 16 years old when she and dad married. Through the years Milton, Douglas and I were born. I was 7 years old when we moved to Limon in 1939. Mom was expecting a baby who was born December 1939 but sadly passed in January 1940 from pneumonia. Her name was Melissa. Mom grieved for her baby but we were working hard getting moved into our new home. We no more than got established when mom gave birth to a baby girl named Julane, in 1942. Then along came Kandy another girl born in 1944, and you guessed it, here came Toy, a Baby boy born in 1945.

You must remember, all this was happening and we had no electric or phone our heat was a kerosene heater in the front room to heat the whole house plus the old Home Comfort cook stove in the kitchen. For you who have never seen one of these unique appliances there were several attachments on it that was very handy. Such as a reservoir on one side that held about 5 gallons of water and as long as there was fire in the stove there was hot water. Also at the top of the stove there was warming oven with a door on it. When you cooked something you would put it up in the oven to keep it warm. It had a very large oven with a grate in it to sit pans on. Mom was a good cook and always had a pot of something simmering on the stove and dough rising in a large bowl for bread or buns or yummy cinnamon rolls. She was pretty inventive with her cooking but we ate lots and lots of macaroni and tomatoes and potatoes fixed every way possible at least once a day.

It was hard raising the babies and I remember she had a baby crib in her and dad’s bedroom for years. During the war with the Government rationing program she would wear her shoes till they fall apart because she would have to use her allowed stamps for shoes for us kids but she just felt that’s the way it was. She canned hundreds of jars of fruit, vegetables, jelly, pickles and more. She was the one that endured the many sleepless nights being up with sick babies and I hate to think how many diapers she changed and had to wash clothes in a tub with a scrub board.

Mom was a beautiful seamstress. She made all my trick riding clothes and western shirts with the pearl snap buttons for the guys. Mom was always there when we needed her for anything.

And I’ve always been thankful that she taught me about home canning, showed me how to sew and was a real taskmaster when it came to doing housework and baby sitting. And don’t think that I didn’t have to help with the outside chores either because I did my share of putting up hay, milking cows and training on horses. But she was a strong loving Mother that I have unintentionally avoided writing about. She was there supporting us in all of our endeavors and cheering us on weather it was winning or loosing, giving hugs and wiping the tears all away. There were so many happy days and a lot of sad and unhappy ones well. But mom was always there helping and doing her “things“ and teaching us as always that’s the way it is.