Sunday, September 01, 2013

Who Raised Those Folks?

White Oak River, Three Miles North of Swansboro, NC

We were driving back from church recently and had stopped at one of our area's few stoplights.  As we stopped, a big truck towing a large boat ran the red light. The light was red before he even got near the intersection.  The first thought that came to mind was one of my mother's favorite sayings, "Who raised those folks?"

Mother believed that you needed to learn certain things while you were growing up and that it was the parent's job to make sure children took those lessons to heart.

Having proper respect for authority was near the top of her list as was knowing how to properly hold you knife and fork especially when cutting meat.

There were some other things that drove her crazy. One was people who littered.  Seeing someone heave trash out of their car offended her sensibilities and inevitably brought the comment that the people doing the littering did not have a proper upbringing. My mother would not tolerate name-calling or lying.  Those were things that people who were raised properly just did not do. 

She also believed in respecting the office of the President. The President no matter what his party affiliation got a chance to earn her respect.  A President like Eisenhower who demonstrated his abilities got her life-long Democrat vote the second time around. Others like Nixon fell from grace quickly.  Voting was something she did all her life.  She could not understand people who complained about the government but were too lazy to vote.  She would be quick to tell you whether or not she liked who was in office but I never heard any disrespect of an elected official come from her.

She also believed in keeping a neat house including the outside which she believed required flowers and well-trimmed shrubbery.  I do not believe there were many excuses that she would accept for uncared for homes.  In some ways, I think she believed more modest homes offered more opportunities for flowers and showing how much you loved your home.

I suspect my mother would have a hard time in our country today.  The truth was paramount to her next to hard work. She always told me to tell the truth even if I knew it was going to hurt.  She would also have been upset with all the people who never consider that their laziness is just going to cause more work for others.

As we finished our drive home from church, I noticed that the state or county had cut the grass alongside Peletier Loop, one of the rural roads leading to home.  Normally mowing the grass makes things look better, but in this case the road looked worse because the mowing just chewed up all the trash that people had thrown out of their cars.

I wonder what kind of an upbringing makes it okay just to heave your trash out the window.  It is not the worse thing that makes me think that we should license people before they are allowed to have children, but it is one of the more visible things.

There are other less visible things that bother me more.  One is how in some families women are not respected or are even belittled.  In some families, women's opinions or all their hard work are not even taken seriously.  That would not have worked well with my mother.

She was the matriarch of our extended family.  She did not tolerate anyone treating another person badly. I can still remember the story of her standing up to her stepmother who was mistreating one of my mother's sisters.  I think a cast iron frying pan was involved.  The way I heard the story the stepmother never bothered my aunt again.

As many people found out, my mother was quite willing to share her opinions when something bothered her. Sometimes her unvarnished truth was a little brutal, but most of the time you could stay on her good side with a well-mowed yard, a clean car, neatly cut hair, good manners, an empty plate and proper respect for authority especially hers.