Dec 1, 2009

What children admire in a parent

For the full article see book called Mothers and Daughters

Kate Shupe and her nine daughters

At 96, her back is as straight as a cutting board, her mind as sharp as her kitchen knives and her hands still strong enough to plant and tend her sprawling vegetable garden.

Born in the last year of the 19th century, married during World War I to a man who worked all his life as a guard at a Virginia state hospital.

She raised her brood during the Depression, fed them with food she farmed and cooked herself and often dressed them in clothes she sewed from feed bags. Every one of them finished high school; some graduated from college. When Kate was 54 she put aside her housework and took a job in a hospital until her retirement at 62.

Since then she has visited all but 6 of the United States, most recently camping in a tent with one of her daughters. She was 80 when she finally traded in her wringer-washer for an automatic model. She still vacuums every day, makes quilts and aprons and faithfully sends birthday cards with a dollar inside to each of her 24 grandchildren and 30 great-grandchildren. She has survived 12 brothers and sisters, her husband who died of heart disease in 1976, two daughters and one infant son, 18 American Presidents and the loss of a cancerous kidney at age 90.

7 of her 9 daughters live within 15 minutes of her Virginia home and every single Sat. night, twenty or thirty of the clan gather together with Mama for a covered-dish supper.

Mama Kate's formula for living: I lived a straight life. I never used bad language - that's a sin. Never smoked. Never drank. Worked real hard. I never think about being tired and I never complain. G-d has given me good health. The girls ask me all the time, "Mommy, are you stressed?" I say, "Tell me how you feel when you're stressed and I'll know whether I am or not."

"I stayed right in the house with my children every day they were growing up. Always tried to treat all my girls the same ... And I always told them to be nice ...

Her daughters, all grown with children and grandchildren of their own, still lean on their mother as the foundation of their family. Joan explains, "I don't think any of us could be there for our two or three children the way Mama has been there looking after all twelve of us. No matter how busy she was, in the midst of baking bread or rolls, we'd come flying in and she would always take the time to listen and tend to us. She never had an automatic yes or no answer."

She's very wise. If anyone in the family does something she thinks isn't quite right, she has a little chat with them ... I don't think Mama ever made us feel bad about ourselves ... she just instilled this feeling of security.

She's loving. She just has a loving presence. And I'll always remember her cooking.

I think of Mama as a lady. She always taught us to be kind to our fellow man ... she taught us to be independent, responsible, strong women.

She's very comforting.

Mama's strength and comfort helps us overcome most anything. I had major surgery and there's Mama standing over me saying "you have to do better, you have to fight this ..." If you're lying there dying and you've got an 85 year old woman telling you this, you're gonna try and get up.

She's appreciative, nothing you give her is too small that she doesn't appreciate it.

She's very kind. When papa died - she was the strong one ... I will always remember her encouragement ...

We never have to feel at all inhibited when she's with us, worrying there's something she might not like. She was always in our corner, making us feel secure and wanted. She taught us to accept responsibility and be independent and communicated to us by example, not by pressure. And she had such patience.

When I think of her having all those babies, taking care of us, cooking, doing laundry on a washboard, ironing with irons heated on the stove, milking cows, gardening, canning, feeding the chickens, helping Papa saw wood - how she managed is beyond my imagination.

We were poor in money but we were not poor in spirit or material things. We had plenty of food, clothing and warmth. We made our own toys, sat around nights and sang. Life with Mama is never boring. She is just fascinating.

We put her on a pedestal because she deserves it.

On the Saturday night get-togethers it is not uncommon for Mama Kate to sit at the organ in her living room surrounded by her beaming daughters while she powerfully pumps out hymn after hymn.

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