(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)
- 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.