You Are What You Think

If you are what you think, then my mother thought about a happy, healthy, long life, filled with love for family, friends and acquaintances.  As a young woman, she traveled alone, cross country by train, to meet my father who was in the Navy. They lived in San Diego and Oklahoma, without friends or family around them. When my father was sent to fight in the war, she returned home to Brooklyn. While he was away, she gave birth to my brother.

They survived on very little income as so many families did during and after the war. One of her favorite stories was when her sister, Ruth and she lived together. They were trying to cobble together a meal to celebrate my cousin’s birthday. The two families contributed whatever they had to make a cake magically appear.  With more family coming, a meal was the challenge. They scrounged up 21 cents and Mom headed out to the store. The only thing to be found was a rather large oxtail. Neither had ever cooked one but that didn’t stop them from throwing it and the few vegetables they had into a pot.

Dinner was served and their brother, Ole, who had a more conservative pallet, probably would have refused the soup, if he knew what it contained. To their amazement, he complimented them on the meal. Aunt Ruth and Mom still laugh when they tell this story. I’m not sure if they ever told him.  Her life was not without challenges, but she met them with stubborn optimism and joy.

Aunt Ruth was the youngest sister and her thoughts and dreams must have been of traveling the world and sampling it’s food. That is just what she did. When she and my Uncle Bill retired, he from the New York City Fire Department and she from a bank, they sold their house, bought an air stream trailer and off they went. They traveled to every state and most countries. They even spent six months on a travel caravan in Europe. When their money ran low, they would hunker down and work at odd jobs until they saved enough to move on to another adventure. One unusual job was selling Christmas trees in Las Vegas. Another had Aunt Ruth working in a vitamin factory, sorting and bottling pills.  She said that she was doing pretty well until the conveyor belt increased the speed. That image still makes me chuckle. On their journeys they collected friends, recipes and memories from all over the world.

The two sisters certainly had different dreams but both had an identical outlook that involved lots of love, laughter and fun. Their other three sisters were all different. Imagine what they were thinking…..


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