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Under Wear

Most people I know have just finished or are in the middle of Spring Break, especially those folks with children.


Great tans have returned from Hawaii, Mexico, Arizona and California and fabulous stories of skiing in New England, Canada and Lake Tahoe. Gator sightings were photographed in Florida.

Trips were not a part of my Spring Break experience. Even when I attempted to break my family pattern of staying at home, we had to return to our house to bail out the first floor flood and clean up the mess of Lake Home.

My Mum taught first grade for many, many years. My Father was in demand to teach Summer School at many Universities. This meant Spring Break was a work in progress, usually concluding with several big feasts and then back to school.

The first few days were massive cleaning days. Every book was dusted, every dish was washed, and all winter clothing – sorted, mended, cleaned and put away for the next year. The stack for charity was a growing edifice for the next fundraising garage sale.

The camping gear was set up in the garage if it was still too cold or wet to head out, because we always camped on our way to which ever University had us on the docket for that summer. My Mother had made our sleeping bags and they were aired out, washed and ironed – rolled into tight grips and put in the car top carrier.

Then it was the shopping extravaganza. We got an Easter dress, gloves, hat, and shoes; nothing too fancy as next spring these would be school dresses. Some years the budget was too tight and we got fabric and my Mother and sister made all the clothing. After the Church clothing came the summer play clothing. These were either made or purchased from the catalogue along with a new pair of KEDS tennis shoes in the color of the year. We each got a jacket and a baseball hat in the same color so that my mom could locate us with a whistle or a good glance as we wandered and explored our camping accommodations or campus.

Next came the Seder dinner with all of my parent’s New York friends, who hated the rain, the west coast and left for the summer back to family in the East. I loved the prayers, singing, food, and candle lighting. The discussions were heady and startlingly good arguments and everyone, no matter your age, was always welcome and listened to. My sister had all the children put on a play, with so many talents and stories to tell – my Father even made a curtain across one end of the room to give us a stage.

Easter was the next feast of food delights and my Mother’s best dishes polished and flowers and my Father filled the Easter baskets with homemade candies from Vincent’s Chocolates. My mother loved PEEPS, so they adorned the cake.

Usually, the day after school finished we piled into an already packed car, left a clean and shiny house and drove to Denver, Stanford, San Diego, Columbia, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver – all the progressive education centers who wanted my father’s expertise.

Now, why might this post be entitled Under Wear?

One of my Mum’s most important criteria was that one must wear clean and whole underwear, in case one was in a car accident. This was a driving concern for her from Easter on every year.

She talked about it and taught us how to wash them out, mend and care for these important items. My Mother always tucked 6 new pair of undies in our Easter basket for our summer travels. (They were also in our Christmas Stockings) Why just 6 – well we needed to wear pair 7 to church on Easter Sunday morning!

I bought myself a Kindle II for Easter. I love it!….

You know how sometimes you look down and see your parent’s hands instead of yours?
I am going to Scotland to see my Father’s homeland this summer, I find myself now obsessing about underwear and have taken on my mum’s worry!
What’s a girl to do?
How did my Mother accomplish all this activity and teach full time? How was your Mum amazing?
What wisdoms did you get from your parents? Were there any habits that are still a part of your life now and do they serve you well?
Looking forward to your stories.

Wow the writing contest entries are trickling in.
Anyone have a champagne experience to celebrate?

20 Responses to “Under Wear”

  1. J.D. Meier Says:

    Beautiful story and insights.

    My Mom is the most self-less person I know and a model of inner-strength. I don’t know where it comes from but it’s a powerful thing.

    J.D. Meiers last blog post..Living Your Process

  2. Mark Says:

    Thank-you for sharing your lovely story. Sounds like your parents were well grounded and steeped in traditional values.
    My Mom was incredible, I loved her dearly. She always found a way to be happy even when times were tough. She never allowed us to know how tight the money was and somehow always had great food on the table and all of our basic needs met. The most important lesson I received from my Mom was how to always find the silver lining and to trust that no matter how bad things may seem at the moment that everything would always work out. I miss her very much!

    Marks last blog post..Contradictions Along Our Journey

  3. Karl Staib - Work Happy Now Says:

    My father is an electrician. He taught me the basics of the trade, but I was destined to use words as my lively hood. This doesn’t mean that I don’t use what he taught me.

    My father taught me the value of finishing what I started. I may put a project down for a couple months, but I will always come back to it. I can’t just let it go. :) I guess that’s why I’m so proud of my blog.

    Karl Staib – Work Happy Nows last blog post..Stressed Out and Loving It

  4. Dot Says:

    My mother, who in many ways is a good example of what not to be, did find ways to support two small children in the early 1950’s after her deadbeat husband left her without alimony or chilid support. She even cleaned our neighbor’s houses. I learned that you can find a way to survive.

    Dots last blog post..Spring Has Sprung

  5. patricia Says:

    Some mums are just like that, but I think they are a dying breed as more and more women must go to work and “do it all”. My Mother was just so practical and organized and my parents were a strong foundation to encourage growth.

    My job in life was to put the positive spin to my mum’s practical and traditional approach. My brother’s job was to add humor to her stern command and my sister imitated her as a greatest form of compliment. My parents had lived through the Depression and were just not going to experience that hardship again – determined to make the world a better place.
    Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your Mother’s lessons and positive spirit.

    Ah those parental lessons of deep value – they do play out in our lives. I have a pet peeve about unfinished projects…I salute you for getting them done so you might let them go.
    Thank you for your comments

  6. patricia Says:

    Yep you can learn to survive! and you can learn opposite lessons and values and well – those are all strengths which I might add appear nicely in your writing.

    Your mother sounded determined to survive and care for her children as best as she was able to accomplish.

  7. Vered - MomGrind Says:

    “What wisdoms did you get from your parents? ”

    My mom is incredibly efficient and organized. I got that from her.

    Of course, the other side of being so efficient is that neither she nor I are able to ever truly wind down and relax. We always keep busy.

    Vered – MomGrinds last blog post..Cabo San Lucas

  8. Patricia Says:

    My mum was never able to unwind and gear down – she would say she was relaxing when she too a bath – I just called that her tub of worry.

    Loved your Cabo San Lucas pictures – the blues and colors were amazing. My IT person says my pictures are getting blurry and hard to fix….but then she will be with me in Scotland so maybe I can get some good shots? using her hands!

  9. Sara Says:


    I was taught the same thing about underwear. My mother reinforced this so much that I used nightmares about being caught in not so clean underwear:~) It still crosses my mind…I’m about to go to Switzerland for a MONTH…imagine how that will be handled. It scares me to think they might actually open my bags.

    My mother was amazing for many reasons, but my favorite was her talent for reading stories. She could make her voice change depending upon the character…it was listening to a play…except she was ALL the characters.

    When do you to Scotland? I haven’t been there, but I go to England frequently as my older daughter lives there.

    Saras last blog post..The Persistence of One Squirrel

  10. Patricia Says:

    The funny part of the story is my mum ended up in the emergency room when she fell at age 93 and fractured her spine – the pain was huge and we waited and waited for assistance – they finally gave her a Vicodin before she went for the secondary x rays and confirmation…this was about 12 hours into waiting. When the Vicodin took effect during the xrays, it dawned on her that she had not put on any clean underwear!
    My partner raced out to the store and bought disposible underwear to relieve her stress about her predicament!

    On Switzerland sounds wonderful and fantastic – I am wondering how I will handle my blog while gone? I go the end of July and first of August….it is for my 60th birthday gift and I so want to see my Father’s homeland.

    I rarely get to travel so am very excited and working hard on the details.

  11. Liara Covert Says:

    Those trips you describe are one way youngsters create memories. The build-up to Easter is often a meaningful period. When the mind conjures up images, the related experiences follow. Now, when mind goes on vacation, that creates havoc. Everything you thought you knew disappears and you suddenly get amnesia. Lots of people appreciate regaining a blank slate. As you are asked a query, the “don’t know” reply makes sense.

    Liara Coverts last blog post..9 Truths that penetrate from beyond

  12. Patricia Says:

    Ah yes! the “don’t know” really makes sense as the mind becomes a blank slate!
    I hope there are new memories on my vacation! and rest…:)

  13. Jannie Funster Says:

    Patricia: I hope it’s okay that I just fell in love with your mom?

    MADE your sleeping bags. MADE clothing. Very undie conscious. How dear.

    As to Scotland, you could always wear a kilt, and you know what they say about kilts and undies – never the twain shall meet, one less thing to worry about packing. :)

    My mom taught me to love the simplicity of nature, the delight of a new sprout or bud. My dad taught fairness, by example.

    Good night!! I AM going tenting tomorrow and Sunday!!


    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Twitterpated (not!) (yet)

  14. Robin Says:

    I have an old orange tent just like that one! – except it would be smaller. We have a fancy dome tent with extra bits, now.

    I’m grateful my mother was (is) a really good cook – I have grown up with well-educated taste buds. I enjoyed reading about your family, Patricia! Aren’t people funny.

    Robins last blog post..Tomato Seeds And Delicious Fruit

  15. LisaNewton Says:

    Oh, the lessons we learn from our parents…………………:)

    Just like you got underwear for Easter, Christmas always brought my new supply. Plus, socks. As a child, whenever I opened a squishy present, I knew it would be clothes, which wasn’t too exciting.

    Whenever I travel, underwear is one of the first things I pack, counting the pairs to make sure I have enough for each day, or at least enough until I know I’ll be able to do laundry.

    Your mother and my mother have some very similar ideas.

    LisaNewtons last blog post..City Center Rocks Los Angeles

  16. UrbanPanther Says:

    We were talking about Easter traditions this past weekend with my daughter and her boyfriend. They were horrified at the amount of chocolate, candies and toys their niece got from the Easter bunny. And apparently the mother was concerned there wasn’t enough!

    I got 1 small chocolate bunny and jelly beans were hidden around the house to find. I also got socks and underwear (items that also showed up in my Christmas stocking!). For my kids, same deal with the candy and I got them a Spring jacket, or if that still fit from the previous year, 1 Spring outfit.

    I could go on and on about family traditions in terms of Easter dinner, but perhaps I’ll save that for another day.

    BTW, what was your dad teaching?

    UrbanPanthers last blog post..The old guy

  17. Julie Says:

    Patricia, I just love your story and the way you tell it. You’re a natural storyteller! Our childhood memories are precious, aren’t they. The perspective we have now is different than when we had the experiences…and yet we can still be IN those experiences, too! Amazing.

    It’s funny (and my mom and I laugh about this, now), but I really don’t remember many specific “mom” instances from my early days, but that’s no fault of hers. She was a busy homemaker with three young children, pets, and a garden, until I was 11 when she began working in an office. It was my dad who factored so largely in our life. His was such a HUGE, warm glowing bright soft beautiful wise and wonderful personality that the whole family revolved around him. It was after his passing in my mid-20s that my mom and I became deeply close friends. I value that: that we are friends!

  18. patricia Says:

    Hope you had a wonderful time tenting, we are finally having some sunshine and dry weather today, next week my husband is doing a huge bike ride – gardening is calling…Kilts hmmm a good thought there!

    Did I ever tell you that my 6th grade art teacher was named Robin Birch? We have an old tent too from my husband’s primary family days – it is just full of memories. People are just so fun you are right on about that.

    I think it was a generational thing for parents and it makes me wonder what our kids and grandies will think fun about us. My mum made us PJs and Bathrobe for Christmas too so we would look good in the pictures on Christmas Morning – the packages were squishy but we were allowed to open those on Christmas eve!

    Urban Panther,
    Those traditions are so fun…I ended up getting my kids a Bordeaux Egg and a wind up toy and a new swim suit…for their Easter Basket.
    My Father had his doctorate in Education and wrote a law stating: “Every Child Deserves an Individual Education” Think gifted and special needs children. He was up for Secretary of Education for the USA but President Kennedy was shot –

    Thank you for your lovely words. My mum was the driving force at our household because my father was off saving the world so much of the time. I do not think my mum was ever my friend or confident. She was a gracious, lovely person, who just worked all the time. Her best friends were her brothers and sisters and she belonged to a philanthropic educational organization for women that she was dedicated to those friends and activities and then you add in teaching Sunday School and church activities and she had a very full life!

  19. Evelyn Lim Says:

    My mother taught me kindness even to people whom others will overlook. It’s amazing that underneath all that money worries, she had not qualms about preparing meals that require hours of kitchen time, for a person in need.

    Great post! I enjoyed reading all the comments as well. Interesting glimpses from all the other bloggers about their mothers.

    Evelyn Lims last blog post..Lose Yourself To Find Yourself

  20. Patricia Says:

    Evelyn Lim,
    Thank you so much for coming on by – I just think all the comments are wonderful too, and it was so nice to learn about mothers and fathers.

    Yes, if someone was in need of food my mum prepared a banquet to share – plain but wholesome food – it was something she had to share.