My mother was a dynamo. From gardening to helping dad in tearing out walls for new remodeling projects in the house and out-of-doors. Mom didn’t just stand and hand nails to dad. No, she was right there putting up sheet rock and laying down cement She would paint walls and lay brick. She had boundless energy and strength for all five foot, three inches of her. And besides that, she was always there for us kids whether it was making a dress for my sixth grade graduation or spending the afternoon at the cinema watching a movie. Mom was mom to all of us but she also was a friend. She would take me and wait tirelessly on the sidelines as I went to my square dance club. She’d even come along for after parties and was friends with all the kids there. The kids affectionately called her Mrs. Fuzzy because not only was our last name similar in some ways to the word, but she treated them all with loving affection.
I could talk to my mom about anything. She would listen and was never harsh but would offer advice that would appeal to our sense of reason and deeply ingrained morals. Both mom and dad helped us to grow up with good values and a good work ethic.
Mom was raised on a farm and her passion was gardening and animals. We had goats and chickens, ducks and rabbits, a dog and cat plus other critters throughout the years. Before we moved in 1975, we had somewhat of a mini farm that was all in a large yard of a residential housing tract. Dad always said, “you can take the girl out of the farm but you can’t take the farm out of the girl.”
Mom loved her animals and was up early every morning milking the goats and gathering the day’s eggs. She would tend her roses and feed the snails to our hungry ducks who adored their Escargot. Our garden always had fruits and veggies for every season with the best Boysenberries along the back fence of our back yard. Eventually we did have to move because our menagerie kept growing.
When I was in the 8th grade, we moved to a house not quite in the country but out of the tracts with a full acre to tend to all things animal and garden.. We even had a horse corral where we rented out horse stalls to the neighboring kids and adults. It was just what mom wanted. A full acre with a place to milk her goats and to keep her chickens.
Do you know that goat milk is delicious? So creamy. We had Nubian goats and they’re known for their flavorful, creamy milk. Never pasteurized, all we did was strain the milk, refrigerate it and then drink it. When a dairy near our home would move or go out of business, mom would ask for their milk bottles. Our goats gave enough milk that the neighbors would ask for it. We had a little room under our house that was kind of like a cellar where milk and eggs would be kept in an ancient little refrigerator. We called this little room the fruit room because that’s where mom’s canned delicacies lined the fruit room’s shelves. Friends and neighbors would drop by to collect a gallon of milk, a dozen eggs or perhaps some freshly canned plum preserves. Mom only had an honor jar where folks could leave their coins for her goods. We had very honest people trying our wares.
In the first year we were in our new home, mom and dad totally redid the old house by moving rooms around and constructing new ones. My room was small but perfect with my shelves of books and my new radio, record player combo. It was the first time I didn’t share a room with my younger sister. It was fabulous!
Excitement was in the air as Mom started training. She was about to walk for charity, with a group, clear to Tijuana! Her group would walk for two weeks, covering about 16 miles per day. All the monies collected would go to help the orphanages in the Tijuana area. It was quite a feat-pun intended.
So off she went. Mom was ready to go and go she did. She successfully walked the hundreds of miles from Santa Barbara to Tijuana. She felt great when she came home and continued with tending to her animals, minding her garden, which in the new place was as much as a success as in the old yard. Things ran smooth and our family was happy.
Almost a year to the day from her charity walk, my mother woke up one morning and couldn’t even lift the covers off of herself. She was very stiff and in great pain.