Here and There

"She did the best she could with what she had." I've used these words to describe my good mother over and over again.

Not in any way are they meant to speak an apology for her not doing better; she did the very best in situations where less would have been good enough, but that was not who she was.

The table was set properly according to the rule book for every meal, no matter how many jobs were pressing to be done before and after.

Whether she was piecing a special quilt or hemming a rough feed-sack towel, if a stitch was crooked or a little long, she pulled it out and tried again.

In those tough times of the Great Depression, families strained to get the bare necessities to live on. Yet, neighbors swapped seeds and plant slips, and we had fresh bouquets of flowers in the house to give beauty and fragrance. My mother picked the beans and dug the potatoes first, but she did not neglect her flower beds.

Meringue stood high on her beautiful lemon, coconut, and chocolate pies. She beat the egg whites with the hand whisk however long it took for the peaks to be stiff. She tended the wood fire in the Home Comfort range until it was the exact temperature for perfect browning.

The worn linoleum was mopped and waxed with the same care that she would have given an Oriental rug. She smoothed wrinkles from patched britches with the heavy flatirons the same as she did starched white shirts.

She stood by the saying "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right."

Most of the time, if what she needed for a project was not available, she would still find a way to get the job done.

One of my most prized possessions is a Sunday dress that my mother made for me when I was four or five years old. The fabric is dark blue crepe de chine. With no money for buying material, she ripped apart her nice, street-length wedding dress that she had kept for special occasions and got enough pieces to make me a "new" dress.

The skirt is flared panels, there are puffed sleeves and a nice long sash. The trim is a lace collar (now yellowed with age) that was originally a cuff on another adult dress that was not suitable for wearing anymore.

I wore the dress proudly, not fully realizing at the time how much love played in her doing the best she could with what she had, always.