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Monday, January 13, 2014

IT DON’T MATTER Chapter 8 Ma’s Favorite Sayings


Sweet Ellen
courtesy photobucket
 
Ma had a favorite story she called sweet Ellen.  We had heard it time and again so much so all she had to say in certain circumstances was “Remember sweet Ellen."

As the story goes there was this girl born into a family and was the apple of her mother’s eye.  The girl was named Ellen and it wasn’t long until her mother called her sweet Ellen.  
 
Her mother doted on her and swatted the boys away from her until she arrived at the age of eighteen.  

At that age sweet Ellen overcame her mother’s resistance to her dating boys.  As the time went on the mother reduced the number of young men to three that she more or less felt were suitable from the long line of suitors attending her.

These young men were almost rabid in their pursuit of sweet Ellen.  Then one day the mother called one of the men in and announced to him he was the one who won out over the other two.

Once the competition was eliminated he began to reconsider whether he actually wanted to marry sweet Ellen or not.  He had been so caught up in the chase he hadn’t considered he might be the one the mother anointed to be the husband.

After some serious thought he went and told the mother he didn’t feel worthy of such honor to be Ellen’s husband.  He considered this was a nice way to say I don’t want to marry her.

The mother managed to contain her rage and after she settled down she went to the second man who after deliberation also declined the honor.

She was fuming but tried not to show it but likewise the third also opted out.

Ma would say the morale is, "You might want things you can’t have more than you should but when you get them you wish you didn’t."

There was something about Ma’s saying, “Remember sweet Ellen,” that would put the brakes to something we were take captive by.

This was the case when it came to romance by my sibs.  Those three words threw water on several blossoming romances in my family.  

While we hated those words we knew there was a lot of wisdom in them and naturally planned to use them on our offspring.

Ma had another saying which went something like this; “Beauty don’t last but character do, look to the character first.”

Ma had a myriad of sayings and I think I heard them all at one time or the other.  Thing is I didn’t always understand what they meant and still don’t.

She had a lot of ways to deny a request I would make like, “Yes, when pigs fly” or “When you are older enough to appreciate it.”  That one always made me think, “When I’m old enough I won’t want it.”

The one thing that was a plus on Ma’s side was she took enough time to understand each of her kids.

Sometimes Ma’s sayings would get on one’s nerves.  You could tell that Pa had enough, even though he wouldn’t say anything he would just leave the room, a luxury we kids wasn’t allowed.

One day when I thought I could get away with asking, I said, “Pa do you think Ma is perfect?”  

He hesitated for a while like he wanted to make sure he said what he wanted to say. Then he answered, “No far from it.”

That really surprised me for they got along really well.  He went on and said, “She’s close enough and if there wasn’t some negatives I wouldn’t appreciate her positives.”

I thought I would push it a bit and asked, “What are some of the negatives?”

He kinda smiled and said, “First off there is you and Elle.”

I could see I better not try to follow up on that.  

After enjoying the barb he hit me with he said, “Because she has some minor faults she is able to overlook my major ones just like she does with you kids. I don’t know if that is the best way to live or not but it works for us.”

I don’t know why it is but every time I have these tete-a-tetes with Pa I come away thinking that I’m a lot better educated than Pa, but he is a lot smarter than me.

My pup, Ole Bony decided he would go visit down the road where some big mean dogs lived and when he came home he was chewed up pretty good.

I had some chloroform and I put some on a rag and knocked him out so Ma could sew him up.  I was hoping his ears would heal up because that was what made him look so pretty.  After a few months the scars faded away for the most part.

One day I took the wagon down to the local store and Rover and Bony went with me. Rover was a big dog and tough as nails.  Bony was a few months older and tougher than when he got chewed up.  The dogs that whipped Bony were at the store and when they saw Bony they made a run at him.

This was a big mistake for ole Rover grabbed the first dog and shook him like a rag doll and then turned his attention to the other one who had overestimated his brawn.  

Bony wasn’t much help, he chewed on a dogs leg while Rover had him down.  The last I saw of the whipped dogs was them trying to run down the road yipping as they went. Their injuries slowed them down some but they were going as fast as they could on three legs.  

Bony regained some of the strut he lost when he was chewed up months ago.  He stayed close to Rover after that for Rover had become his hero.

We got a message that Clayton was getting married after church on Sunday at the town church.  We loaded up as many would fit in the new buggy we had bought.  Not all of us could fit in it so we pulled the side boards off one of the wagons and put a thick layer of straw on it.  After it was loaded down with people and food off we went.  

The worse thing about that was trying to brush off the straw that stuck to your clothes. After church a lot of the church people stayed for the ceremony and then went down the town meeting hall.  Everyone brought food so we had a house full of people who were full of vittles.

I hadn’t met Clayton’s bride so I went over and Clayton introduced me as his baby brother.  I just let that slide and gave the bride a kiss on the cheek.

I teasingly asked if there was any more sisters at home as pretty as she was. She laughed and said, “No, not as pretty as me.”  From that point on we were good friends and I concluded Clayton did well for himself.

I hope I do as well when the time comes for me to wed.  We as a family gave Clayton enough money to buy them a new city house for he had worked hard on the farm when he was growing up.  After which we headed home.  The trip home was quiet with the babies sleeping and the night air being cool.

I was thinking about the business to be cared for on the morrow and at the same time watching Elle and the boy she had invited to the wedding.  It was getting darker and didn’t want them getting too close for she was easily excited.

We hung a lantern on the tongue of the wagon and a couple more on the sides of it so we could see the road.  The weather was beginning to cloud up and I was glad we were getting close to home.  The thunder and lightning was acting up and the rain came shortly after we arrived home.

We just drove the wagon in the barn and put the team in the stables and left them with some feed.  It was getting stormy so everyone decided to spend the night at the old homestead and it was crowded.

Ma made some coffee and hot chocolate for the kids.  This went well with some cookies that were left over from the reception in town.  It wasn’t long before Pa had a fire going the fire place which made it cozy and fought off the dampness the rain brought with it.

Because it was crowded I threw me a feather tick on the floor and waited for sleep to come.

My mind went back to the wedding and the bride. Once again I wondered if there was a girl as pretty and as smart as she for me…

I tried to conclude “It don’t matter” but - - “Or it does matter - - it kept gnawing at me.”

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