Thursday, May 29, 2008

OT: A reminiscence sing

My mother called recently with the news that an elderly (and not close) relative had died at the age of 94. I knew her in a weddings-funerals-and-Easter-gatherings kind of way and had not seen her in some years.

Still in her teens, Great-aunt X had married in the depths of the Depression and had gone to live on her new husband's family farm, where the household included a fairly, um, exacting mother-in-law, assorted relatives, and eventually six children of her own. I can't even begin to imagine the amount of work that she had to do every day to keep everyone, including a bedridden mother-in-law, fed, clothed, and clean, let alone to do the work that women did on farms back then.

She lived on the farm, by herself but with family nearby, until going into the hospital about a week before her death. She was living there last summer and, at 93, was still canning peaches, tomatoes, and sweet pickles as she had done for the last seventy years.

She was the most cheerful person I have ever met.

Although I don't usually talk about my family, I mention her here because for years when I've wanted to whine about how much work I have to do and how demanding people are and--well, you know how those whines go--I would think of Great-aunt X and the work she did. What it reminded me was that there's the work I do, and then there's work.

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