Sunday, 18 December 2016

They Don't Make Them Like They Used To...

I was born to a farming family in small town Saskatchewan. I grew up in a 'traditional' home...My mom stayed at home, my Dad was happily married to her and his farming business, but probably the farm got more of his time. Us kids had a good life, there was everything we needed, enough of the basics to go around and bit more, there was love, and a gigantic ice rink every winter.

For better or worse, this was the life I left behind when I moved to the city to attend university. As one does, I met people, I traveled the world for a few years, and eventually married a good man. During this time, I often thought fondly of my parents—of how hard they worked, how generous they were, and of what an amazing family they built. More often than not, I came to the conclusion that 'they just didn't make people like that anymore.' Now, you should know that my parents not only had 16 children and a farm but they also worked tirelessly to better the community we lived in. To this day, what they accomplished in their lives seems impossible to me. 

My mom passed away when I was twelve, and I have never thought of her more often than I do now that I have my own children. I remember her to be calm, wise, and unfailingly kind. Perhaps those are memories tinted with rose-coloured glasses and god knows she's not here to set the record straight, but I'm sure I'm not entirely wrong. Recently, I was describing her to a friend who'd never had the chance to meet her and in my description I chose the word 'tireless' and again used the phrase, 'they just don't make people like that anymore.' Time and again, especially as a mom, I find myself wondering what Mom would have to say about this or that, but if she'd heard me utter those words—tireless, they don't make people like that anymore—I have a pretty good idea what she would say...

She would probably call me a 'Dummkopf,' and say something like... Of course they make em like they used to! Do you think you're any different than me? You think I was 'tireless' raising 16 kids? There's a better word for that....Tiresome. Bleeding tiresome. (except she wouldn't swear, because she never swore, But maybe she did when we were out of earshot). She'd probably tell me she got frustrated with needy kids at her legs during the supper hour, insurmountable laundry, people in the community that were difficult to work with, a marriage that required energy she lacked, and exhausted of working a thankless job.

Except of course, she wouldn't have said any of that because she knew I would figure it out.

After all, when she was a young lady, she probably thought fondly of her own parents who raised their own brood before there were even hospitals or electricity. Perhaps she counted herself lucky for the modern world in which she lived that offered her opportunities and luxuries not afforded to her own mother, and marveled that they just didn't make people like that anymore. But they did—they made her—and maybe they still do.

Perhaps after years of seeing a world my mother never got to see, getting an education that she could only have dreamed of, of working jobs that wouldn't have been available to her, knowing comforts beyond her wildest dreams, its been easy to write her off as a woman of a different time, a legend, a dying breed, the likes of which they don't make anymore. But I can see that for the cop out that it is. I'm sure if I could ask her the question that I have always wanted to ask—How did you do it, Mom?—she would just say she did her best with what time and fate dealt her. And of course, no less should be expected me. After all, when I take a step back from my own life of managing our busy family schedule, sharing my wonderful husband and marriage with a business he created, and even as I look out onto my backyard ice rink, I know we are not that different.

We will never be our parents, for better or worse, but surely they have all taught us something--whether that be lessons of unfailing patience and love or that we want to be nothing like them or anything in between. Whatever those lessons, it seems as you age, you realize just how much you share in the same humanity.