You Used to Be Beautiful!

Kathleen Holdaway in flowered dress0002One warm afternoon in late May, 1960, Billy and I were lying on the living room floor as Mother reclined a few minutes with her feet up wearing the heavy surgical weight stockings the doctor had ordered.  She was  six months into a difficult pregnancy with her last child,and was supposed to be off her feet.  She had spent a good portion of the morning tying to keep an eye on her fourteen-month-old, Connie, while trying to coax twelve-year old Phyllis and me at ten to do a little housework, help with Connie, and even get a little work out of seven year old Billy, while keeping him out of trouble.  Phyllis was watching Connie.  We were all terminally lazy, slacking off at the first excuse.  None of us had any intention of doing anything we could avoid.

As we dawdled at her feet on the floor in the draft of the attic fan, one of us pulled out an old photo album.  I quickly found a picture of her made her senior year of high school, the peak of her youth and beauty.  “I graduated thirteen years ago today,” she remarked smilingly.

In my infinite wisdom, I proclaimed, “Oh Mother, you used to be beautiful!”

I turned for her smile, only to see a snarling, slobbering, swollen beast ready to pounce on me in rage! “”Used to be beautiful!  Let’s see what you look like when you have five kids in twelve years!  Put this stuff up, right now.  Linda, you take your smart mouth and get those dishes washed.  Phyllis, you put a pot of beans on for supper.   Billy, you…”

By the way, this is not the picture in question.  That one mysteriously disappeared

Dear Auntie Linda, August 13. 2015

Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,  I am a nineteen year-old-single mother of a two-month-old boy.  My husband was killed in a combine accident before the baby was born.  My baby and my in-laws are all I have.  I need to start college so we don’t remain dependent on my husband’s parents. We still live with them on a farm in Wisconsin, forty-four miles from the nearest college town.  Commuting is out of the question in winter.  I can get financial aid and scholarships to live campus housing with my son and put him in day-care, but my in-laws are insisting it would be best to leave the baby with them during the week and spend weekends and holidays with him, since the farm will be his one day.  I could commute many days when the weather was good.  Torn

Dear Torn, You do have difficult choices to consider.  While he is still an infant and you are getting into the routine of college life, it might be less overwhelming if he stayed with his grandparents and you lived in campus housing, but he might very quickly become “their child” and you’d find yourself feeling like an outsider.  Should you decide to do that, I’d stay as involved as possible, commuting mid-week as well as weekends in good weather, and taking him with me full-time, as soon as it was feasible.  It’s wonderful you have good family.  I know that little guy will need to stay close to them.  Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda, We don’t have a leash law in our rural neighborhood.  My neighbor’s dogs make a beeline to poop in my flower beds.  i am tired of cleaning it up. I have complained, but it makes no difference.  What do I do, now?  Pooped on

Dear Pooped,  I guess, fight poop with poop.  Since you are having to clean it up anyway, I guess just put it back in their yard.  I wouldn’t put it on the step.  That could get nasty pretty fast.  Auntie Linda

Dear Auntie Linda,  I am getting married next month.  My parents are divorced and remarried.  They each say they won’t come to the wedding or help on expenses if the other comes.  What do I do?  Can’t Choose

Dear Can’t, First of all, better make sure you can afford the wedding.  You will be just as married, no matter how simple.  Secondly, don’t choose.  Just tell both parties, “hope you can make it!”