When I was a younger boy, I had very little appreciation for the time and effort my mom spent working to meet the needs and wants of her family. She had three sons and then a daughter. My dad was certainly a hard worker, but I suspect mom worked as much or more than he did. He received raises and promotions. Mom didn’t work and serve her family to gain wealth, recognition or approval. She knew her calling was much more important than that. She knew she was loving, leading and teaching important truths about purposeful life by how she lived. The picture of us at the Wisconsin Dells was one I asked her about. It shows mom preparing lunch for my brother Russell with me at the far right. We are dressed in one-of-a-kind oil cloth western jackets mom made for us.
I asked her about the photograph via email, and she responded. This is what she said, “As to your green and yellow jackets, yes I made them. I do not think they sell oil cloth anymore, since they now have plastic, but it was what the ladies would purchase by the yard, and usually made a tablecloth out of it. It required no sewing, just cut off, and use as is. The bottom was fabric, nothing fancy, just to hold whatever they poured on top of it and allowed to dry. It was shiny, I’m not sure what the top ingredient was, perhaps some sort of rubber or similar. It was easy to wash off with a dish rag, and so you didn’t have to have something else to wash on wash day, just wipe it off. It was not expensive, and when the color started to fade, or you may have cut it, you could just toss it out, and purchase more. It came on a big roll, you could buy it by the yard or inch, and they usually had solid colors, or patterns. When I was thinking of making you jackets, I thought that a good choice, for it was not only easy to care for, but it would keep the wind out. I would do most of the sewing on the machine, and my stitches were always on the inside, the fabric helped make it much easier to sew. I used pound in snaps to keep them closed. Along with those jackets, I also made you both hobby horses, dad did the carpentry work, and I sewed the horse heads. I made almost all my clothes those days, even spring jackets, and most all your shirts and trousers.”
The following proverb reminds me of my mother. “She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.” Proverbs 31:27 Mundane tasks can be draining, unpleasant and boring. Doing the same thing day-after-day for your family can become monotonous and even joyless. There are so many more things that could be (for some) more fulfilling or fun. If you read Proverbs 31, it is easy to see that the woman being described is not lazy or engaged in tasks without a purpose. She does her husband good, she seeks fabrics and works with willing hands, she grows and prepares food, she is up at night as needed, she cares about others less fortunate and meets their needs and she finds time to run a business. In other words, her common practice isn’t drinking tea, watching daytime television, shopping for new shoes and trying to impress the neighbors. There is a thread of love woven through all of these. Things done in love are not drudgery.