Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday - on My Mind- Be Mindful of your Foremothers

This Monday morning, my foremothers are occupying my mind. Specifically, I've been thinking about my great-grandmother. I was fortunate to have her in my life until I was 20. She was 95 years old when she passed away, and in the time I knew her, she did spend time doing nothing. However, this wasn't always the case.

When she married in her early twenties, she spent her days cooking three full meals a day for my great-grandfather and his eleven brothers who share-cropped with him. We're not talking bologna sandwiches; we're talking fried chicken and mashed potatoes with cream gravy. We're also talking about no indoor plumbing and no air conditioning in the West Texas heat. No microwaves, no prepared foods, no dishwashers, and no paper plates or paper napkins. Even when she had tuberculosis and was exiled to an outbuilding, she was still expected to have lunch on the table at noon. On top of this, she had to tend to the family garden if they were to have any vegetables to eat, care for the chickens, and do the weekly washing with a washboard. The thing is, I'm sure she thought she had it easy compared to her great-grandmother. After all, at least she had access to a market and a pump to get water out of the ground.

After my bout with the flu last week, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how much time we really have. Technology has added hours to our days. We no longer have to fetch the water and make the soap to wash the dishes. We just load them in a machine and push a button. Of course, now we have to spend hours working to pay for that machine, but still, we have it pretty good. Take a minute to imagine yourself as a pioneer woman settling on the great plains. I can't imagine that those women ever had a moment to themselves, a few minutes to indulge in nothingness.

Take a moment to imagine the hours Jane Austen must have spent writing the entire manuscript for Pride and Prejudice by hand. Every edit requiring a complete rewrite of the entire page. No cut and paste option. No ability to back up your work. I can just imagine a page or two getting ruined by a spilled cup of tea. Can you imagine the frustration?

I have to imagine that all the women who have come before us would think us very lucky indeed to have so much time. So today, I wish to be mindful of those women. I wish to honor them by being mindful of my time and by spending it wisely. How will you honor your foremothers today?

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother used to cook a full, traditional Christmas lunch for 40 people, in the middle of the australian bush, at the height of summer, with a wood stove and no refridgeration. She did have a tap, and a sink, but water was scarce.
    I think of her every time I cook stuff from scratch, and every time I bring in the laundry from the clothes line. By choosing to do these things, I feel like I'm honouring her.