About Me

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Recent retiree--35 year's experience teaching reading, English, adult basic education and volunteer leadership skills. Started this blog to exchange ideas and commentary with friends and others having an interest in joining the discussions. Greatest life accomplishments include: 1.organized my 3rd grade class to check out library books for me to get around librarian's weekly limit--Amazon.com, the Mullins Elementary 3rd Grade Class of 1956 is still waiting for "thank you" notes; 2. volunteered in the Peace Corps, island of St. Kitts, West Indies; 3.taught adults to read, earn their GEDs., and speak English as a second language; 4. bought a border collie puppy for $6, got evicted rather than give him up, and began a life-long love affair with all things "Dog"; 5. joined a physical fitness boot camp in my mid-50s--don't mess with someone who's been doing regulation pushups in wet grass at 5:30 a.m.; 6. walked across Northern England with best friend Sally--over 80 miles from the Irish to North Seas; and 7. travelled to many foreign countries for pleasure and work.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Women's Lot

(Our host for this week's Fun Monday, Kitten , invites us to describe the super hero in our lives. She's not interested in celebrity. Instead, who is the person that you look up to, that has had a significant impact on who you are and how you live your life? For me, that would be my 84 year old Aunt Draxie.)

In the early 1940s my Uncle Dennis married Draxie, a girl from a neighboring farm, and brought her to the family farm in the Appalachian foothills to live with my grandmother and grandfather. In just a few years they had two sons. Over the years I have talked with my aunt about her early married life and have always understood that she endured many hardships of body and spirit that continued for many years.

The farm was owned by my grandfather,who was ailing by that time, and my uncle worked it in anticipation of someday inheriting. The farmhouse sat up on a hillside and all the rich bottomland below was used for crops. It was subsistence farming in that everything the family expected to eat had to be grown each year. Man and mule provided the labor to work the land. It took everyone old enough to work in the family--man, woman, and child--to plant, tend, and put the crops by to live on from year to year.

From the beginning of her marriage my Aunt Draxie was always the second woman in the household. Although my grandmother was a very loving and indulgent grandparent to me and my cousins, she was very hard on my aunt, insisting that she have absolute control over every decision that would traditionally be the woman's role in the family--homekeeping, child rearing, caregiving for my ailing grandfather. Unfortunately, my uncle never stood up to his mother and defended his young wife. He felt that it was my aunt's duty as the young wife to submit to everyone else in the family. Aunt Draxie learned early on that she just had to take it--for the sake of her young boys and because there there was no other alternative.

So, the years went by. My aunt reared two sweet and gentle sons, who to this day honor and respect their mother. This was one of Aunt Draxie's most telling achievements because in the mountain culture sons are catered to by the women of the family. My grandparents died in the 1960s, followed very soon by my uncle. After all these years my aunt was finally on her own. Had she not done such a good job in rearing her sons, her life would have continued to be miserable because the farm was deeded to her sons, not to Aunt Draxie. However, her sons moved quickly to protect their mother by giving her control of the farm so long as she lives.

In this photo my Aunt Draxie is in her early 80s. She still lives alone on the family farm. Her life is a daily rhythm of work and discipline--but of her own choosing. She raises a huge garden, putting by much of what she raises for the winter. She keeps her home with little help from modern conveniences. In the winter she makes beautiful quilts. No days are idle. She has the pleasure of welcoming new daughters-in-law in the family and treats them and her grandchildren with great love and affection. If only she had received the same treatment as a young woman. I often think that the greatest compliment that could be paid me is to say that I'm like my Aunt Draxie--she truly is my Super Hero.

Now take some time to check out other Fun Monday heroes. Go to Kitten's Place for the list.

(Photo credit: Kentucky postcard "Rural Kentucky" by Dan Dry)

22 comments:

Mariposa said...

Wow, what a woman to look up to me! I understand why she is one of your heroes....

And my Mom should not not read my blog...BUT i'm printing this in a separate article with the song, I will give it to her on Mother's Day!

Have a nice week!!!

karisma said...

Aunt Draxie is not just a hero! She is a pure Saint! God bless her! May her remaining years bring her joy and happiness, she sure deserves it!

Alison said...

Faye, your post brought tears to my eyes...she is a true hero and an inspiration to all women....thank you so much for sharing your Aunt Draxie with us.

Patience-please said...

What an amazing woman. And an admirable hero. Thanks for sharing her story.

Hootin' Anni said...

This story can tear a heart out knowing what women of her time went through, yet still it can also melt a heart because she withstood all the trials in life and still lives proudly.

Great tribute.

My F M is shared.

Aoj & The Lurchers said...

I think that we have very little concept of what some women had to go through, because of the time or other strong-willed family.

What a star your aunt was to see it through. A weaker person would have broken.

Celeste said...

What an incredible hero. I find it sobering trying to consider what others have been able to live thorugh during the course of their lives.

Sauntering Soul said...

What a fabulous woman Aunt Draxie is! Not that I could even remotely compare my life to what it sounds like she had to endure, but I was also married to a man who never stood up for me to his mother who had her say about everything we did in our lives. It's not an easy thing to deal with.

I hope Aunt Draxie continues to grow her gardens and sew her quilts with much joy and happiness.

kitten said...

Beautiful! Just really wonderful! I didn't realize how much tissue I would need for today. Thanks for sharing!

Melanie said...

What a beautiful post about your aunt. She sounds like a truly amazing woman. Your post made me a bit misty.

Our Happy Happenings

Jettie said...

OHH my!1 I once said to my Grandma the good ole days and she disagreed with me!! She said thats how the young folk see it not I!! how true...I feeel For Your Aunt what a truly special lady!!

Sayre said...

An amazing woman! And she obviously had great fortitude to deal with such a mother-in-law and still remain as sweet as she did!

Jo Beaufoix said...

Your Aunt Draxie sounds like a special lady. I'm so glad she got to be her own person and was rewarded for the care she gave her sons. Wonderful story.

the planet of janet said...

beautiful! just beautiful!

jennifer said...

What a woman! I like that she continued to live a disciplined life by her own choosing. Great Fun Monday post!

Jen

IamwhoIam said...

It hard to envision how hard life was and not to have joy or appreciation could break you sprit. Yet you aunt not only survived she thrived and able to raise to good sons, we see where you get your strength of character.

hulagirlatheart said...

What a wondeful post! I wish I could meet her. I bet she has some great stories to tell.

My Husband Calls Me Weird said...

And what a superhero she is! Thanks for sharing.

nikki

Lane said...

What a wonderful woman your Aunt Draxie is (and what a beautiful name!)

I love that you've written this and made her story known. I should imagine there's an awful lot more you could write Faye? Maybe this is one of your future projects?

Pamela said...

Can you imagine her inner strength.

Debs said...

What an amazing woman your Aunt Draxie is. I was fascinated by her story and her strength of character.

It's heart-warming to know that her sons looked after her in the end too.

KittyHawk said...

Is she on your mother's or your father's side, Faye?

Your blog tells me there's a whole book in your future.

And I'm still amazed that after 30+ years how much I still don't know...