Saturday, November 25, 2006

Millie's Wrinkles

Although she was born in southern Indiana to a family who had lived in the U.S. for generations, Millie didn’t learn to speak English until she began school. She still speaks some German, but only when she talks with her siblings. There were nine children in her family, but only five remain. Her memories of one brother are distant – Kenny died as a child after a horse kicked him in a well. He was pulled out alive, but hypothermia claimed him.

Her family still calls her Imelda, but everyone else says Millie. I call her Mom. Like any parent and child relationship, there have been times when I’ve wanted to walk away screaming. However, she has stood by me, my brothers and my sister steadfastly and has never ever faltered as a parent in her support of us. She always encouraged us to reach for our dreams and that nothing is impossible if we work hard enough.

Millie learned to be a parent when she lost her own mother at the age of 14. Her Mom essentially died from high blood pressure one year before medication became available to fight the disease. Millie’s aunt wanted her to drop out of high school to take care of her younger brother and sister who were still at home and the house. She refused to quit school to pursue her own dream of college, yet she still managed to do all the housework, laundry, cooking, and gardening. Millie was the first in her family to graduate from high school, but she never made it to college. However, fate seemed to nod in her direction because I later became the first in the family with a degree. Mom said it was like we broke the ceiling and although I was an average student, it remains a great source of my own pride today.

When I asked about her earliest memory, Millie said no one would believe her. She remembers hearing her Dad upset and her Mom screaming, “Stop! You’ll kill him!” Years later, she asked her brother about what happened that day because though the memory was there, she couldn’t picture it in her mind. Her brother was astonished and said, “Imelda, you weren’t there. Mom was pregnant with you when that happened.”

Before Apolonea (her mother) died, she told Millie the story of Jesus and his agony. Millie felt very sorry for him and couldn’t stop thinking about the passion. She sobbed in bed that night feeling his despair. Then something touched her and soothed her forehead. Millie said that was the moment she was given the gift of faith.

Her faith helped her through many difficult times. My Dad was an enlisted man in the Air Force, so payday only came twice a month. On their first Thanksgiving together, my 19-year old mother looked in her empty pantry - there was no food for a traditional turkey dinner. As she and the other military wives in their apartment complex started talking, though, they realized if they pooled their resources they could create a wonderful meal. Millie cooked the rabbit the men hunted and another friend brought corn. By sharing, they had everything but a pumpkin pie!

Millie and Norman have been married a happy 48 years, even through lean and sometimes hard years. When her first son was born, Millie only had clothing for girls. She prayed about how she could find a way to dress her son and a week later a box arrived in the mail postmarked from St. Louis. To this day, she doesn’t know who sent it, but it was full of boy clothes from newborn to two years old. Another time and five children later, Millie ran out of laundry soap. She thought, “What am I going to do, Lord?” because she desperately needed the detergent to wash diapers. As she was deciding she’d just have to rinse them really good and hang them on the line to dry, she opened her front door and there was a little sample box of detergent hanging on the door knob.

Millie said she knows God provides when you put your faith in Him. I have benefited through her faith because it has given me a strong, kind, and compassionate mother.


Blogger Lynnster said...

What an absolutely wonderful Wrinkle today. The earliest memory recall gave me shivers, literally.

9:14 PM  
Blogger Ivy, the Great and Powerful said...

I really liked this wrinkle story too! One of my favorites!

4:35 PM  

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