My mother never worked

Topics: Mother, Family, Marriage Pages: 4 (1316 words) Published: September 23, 2013

“Social Security Office.” (The voice answering the telephone sounds very self-assured.) “I’m calling about … I … my mother just died … I was told to call you and see about a … death benefit check, I think they call it …” “I see. Was your mother on Social Security? How old was she?” “Yes … she was seventy eight …”

“Do you know her number?”
“No … I, ah … don’t you have a record?”
“Certainly. I’ll look it up. Her name?”
“Smith. Martha Smith. Or maybe she used Martha Ruth Smith. … Sometimes she used her maiden name … Martha Jerabek Smith.” “If you’d care to hold on, I’ll check our records – it’ll be a few minutes.” “Yes …”

Her love letters – to and from Daddy – were in an old box, tied with ribbons and stiff, rigid-with-age leather thongs: 1918 through 1920; hers written on stationery from the general store she had worked in full-time and managed, single-handed, after her graduation from high school in 1913; and his, at first, on YMCA or Soldiers and Sailors Club stationery dispensed to the fighting men of World War I. He wooed her thoroughly and persistently by mail, and though she reciprocated all his feelings for her, she dreaded marriage …

“It’s so hard for me to decide when to have my wedding day – that’s all I’ve thought about these last two days. I have told you dozens of times that I won’t be afraid of married life, but when it comes down to setting the date and then picturing myself a married woman with half a dozen or more kids to look after, it just makes me sick. I am weeping right now – I hope that some day I can look back and say how foolish I was to dread it all.”

They married in February 1921, and began farming. Their first baby, a daughter, was born in January 1922, when my mother was 26 years old. The second baby, a son, was born in March 1923. They were renting farms; my father, besides working his own fields, also was a hired man for two other farmers. They had no capital initially, and had to gain it slowly,...
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