It’s Flying Monkey Friday! The day we remind ourselves that we do not have to be manipulated by Flying Monkeys as we head into the weekend. Today’s topic is family stories. How many of us have been told NOT to share our stories? How many secrets lurk in the family closet–causing shame and pain in the darkness?
Today’s Guest Blogger is a dear friend of mine who goes by Amelia Ponder–partially because there might be some things she writes that her family members are not thrilled about. And yet her raw, honest blog is such an example of why we need our stories so we can find the beauty among the ashes and discover gratitude for what we have.
Today is laundry day. I’m rich.
I have more clothes than I can wear in a month.
I have a wash machine. Push a couple buttons, it does it all. Gently, and without shredding thin the garments.
I have a dryer – not a rope that hangs among the trees in our back yard.
I have a dresser to put stacks of pants and pj’s in, drawers that shut just nice, and a closet.
I have a bug and moth free home, most of the time:)
An indoor sink with plumbing (ashamed to say, but 5 of them).
Sweet tap water for drinking down.
Barefeet cool on hardwood while I fold towels, pile up the socks and shake the shirts.
I sometimes complain about laundry. And why?
As a kid it was bags and bags to the laundromat.
The generation before that, Grandma used a wringer washer.
Before that, hours at a time, hands in boiling water, washed in tub and on the board.
Great Great Grandma Amanda lost her soldier husband Peter in the Civil War. She had two little girls Margaret and Melinda to raise, alone. Despite the kindness of the extended family, nothing could be done to provide Amanda and the girls an easy life. At first Amanda was a single mom with two small children. I can’t imagine tackling the wash, let alone having to track down enough wood to keep her little family warm, pack the water alone, manage it all, and grieve. The 1860’s were hard. The 1860’s life was even harder as a single parent no matter how effective the latest wash powder.
It was wintertime. Amanda’s youngest, Melinda made her way toward school. Up the steps in through the door, she removed her wraps. She was a tiny 4th grade girl. Her feet still cold from the walk, she took her seat and waited for the teacher. In the hussle of morning-time, somebody bumped the teacher’s desk, the kerosene lamp swayed and toppled to the floor, shattering into pieces. When the teacher returned, she went into a rage. Who had done it? The students pointed to Melinda. The teacher rushed at her, grabbed hair, pulled her to the floor and bashed her head against the metal shoe scraper that sat beside the door. Repeatedly smashing Melinda’s head, the teacher ripped out handfuls of her auburn hair. The attack caused Melinda to go to bed, and remain there for over a year. She had difficulty reading and learning.
Melinda’s Father, a good man, had helped his brother through college before the war. After Peter died, his brother, Uncle Charlie as the family called him, decided to give back to Peter’s girls what had been given to him. Amanda’s oldest Margaret went to live with her uncle and family. She was given an education through college. This was in a day when most men were unable to attend college, and rarely a women. Melinda stayed home with her Mother and Stepfather and learned to be a housekeeper and cook. No telling the tole the brain injury had taken, and the opportunities lost. Her education had stopped with the 4th grade thrashing.
I don’t know how Melinda managed her life as a woman. How had she washed clothes, baked before sunrise, and through the long hot days? Had she managed to wash from her spirit what the Civil War had taken? Had she let wash away the brutality of a monster teacher – enough to raise four daughters and send them off to school each day? A young bride’s fear of marriage, honeymoon night hid in darkness under bed, husband finding her and pulling her out? Had she been able to scrub hard against the shame of being simple when husband was smart and able, educated, Justice of the Peace, blacksmith, Sunday School teacher, ran the theater and performed Shakespeare? Oh, did I mention his handwriting looked like art?
You’ll want to read the rest of the story here: