Sunday, 12 May 2013

The "Good" Old Days (yes and no)

  I recently posted this picture on FB where I wondered what impression people would have simply from the photo. She was a beautiful young adult sitting there in a dress she had made for herself.
My mother grew up in south end Yarmouth (the poor end) pre-war, made it to grade 8 in the Academy and then went to work in the cotton mill. Later she got her high school equivalency.
Throughout her life she read a lot, and loved music of all kinds, and dancing. There was lots of dancing while the troops were training in Yarmouth - she could go with her older sister.

My mom's mother, Mary Sophia Moffatt (maiden name Muise, from Sanford area, just outside town) learned to speak english so well that no one knew she was French Acadian from the way she spoke. With a grade 2 education, she taught herself and her husband how to read. It was a time where signs asking for help in the shops in Yarmouth stated clearly "French or Catholic need not apply".
My grandfather worked dawn to dusk 6 days a week, well into an advanced age. He was quiet, contained, and proud of his children. His father had come to Canada from Scotland.

The nine children in the family were beautiful and dark with frizzy hair. My mom told me that when they were children some made fun of them calling them "Moffatt's niggers."
I never knew for many years of the speculation of her ancestry by some people here, until someone casually mentioned it one day after I was grown up.
The Moffatt children grew up strong willed and community minded and mostly stayed closely knit.

She shared with me that one of her sisters had been grabbed by a bishop in the basement of a church and when she broke free from him that he twisted her arm hoping that "she would never use that arm again"
She also shared with me that she had an uncle who she never knew existed until she was a married adult, because he had married a "black woman." 

My mom was a member and representative for the union at the cotton mill. She sewed her own clothes (and ours later on.)
When she was married to my dad and pregnant, a sister in law passed her a book on natural child birth and breast feeding, and that is what she chose.
She supplemented care from doctors with relaxation exercises for herself, and knew how to help us relax at times when we children were stressed with illness.
She told me her life had begun when she and my dad married after the war. She loved being a "stay at home mom" who was involved in the neighborhood in many ways, although she had her times of wondering if she had made the right choice.
She took her turn selling things like Tupperware and Avon to get some spending money and she loved the socializing aspect of that; she learned a lot about my dad's family that way when we moved here.
She sewed, knit and crocheted like a wizard.
She and my dad helped me raise my child (I was a single mom), and entertained her and her friends with enthusiasm while I was working.
Later on she taught many people how to swim at the pool at Ste Anne University - a hobby of hers sort of - she was always at the pool because of her arthritis.
She loved walking.
She had a great sense of humor and laughed easily.
When misunderstood she would shrug and claim being an Aquarius and ahead of her time ......
A person who wasn't expected to live the night she was born, who was ill often, and yet lived and loved life, and considered herself lucky, especially considering the beginning of her time here.

She was amazing in many ways - still a human being with her own struggles and a person of her time, she was able to transcend much of that time.
May we all trancsend. May we all have opportunity to laugh. May we all continue to grow.
May we all learn what real love is and practice it.