Mary Ruth Harris—My Mother

Christmas gift

I received a Christmas gift of a year subscription to StoryWorth. I receive a question provided by my daughter-in-law to answer each week. At the end of the year, I will have the opportunity to order them and receive a hardback book comprised of the stories.

The first question

“What was your mom like when you were a child.”

My response

My mother was Mary Ruth Harris. She was the daughter of James Frederick Harris and Elizabeth Midkiff.  Trying to create a picture of my Mom when I was young is a kaleidoscope of images. As you read this, remember I am writing about a time before computers, cable, and cell phones.

Mom was a strong, loving, and caring woman who raised four kids while my Dad was gone, serving in the Navy. She kept us clothed and fed. Most importantly, we felt loved.

Sometimes, actually often, things became tight, and she would take a job as a waitress. The oldest, I was the babysitter when she worked.

The color of Mom’s hair when she married Dad is a mystery, but think it was brown. She had a schedule with her hairdresser, and she often tried a new color. The one I remember most is an auburn.

Mom loved children

She was “mother” to almost every kid in the neighborhood. I don’t remember any boy or girl calling her Mrs. Knott.

We had a big fenced backyard, and often we gathered there for a softball game. Mom often settled disputes between teams with an invitation to a soda (soft drink in some vernacular) or a homemade treat.

Mom thought children should enjoy the sunshine and encouraged us to spend most of the day outdoors. Exceptions were if it was raining cats & dogs or a blizzard. We rarely argued since being inside allowed her to find something for us to do. It was more enjoyable doing our thing in the mud puddles or snow than cleaning.

Cleaning was a team effort, according to Mom. My brother Cletus got stuck with dusting and sometimes sweeping or vacuuming. I always had to help Mom with waxing the floors. I spent many evenings on my knees in the wax remover, scraping away the old before we could put down the new. The twins claimed to be too young and just stayed out of the way!

Mom and her pistol

My uncle had made part of the basement a gunshop. One night we thought someone had gotten into it.  Mom took her pistol and went into the basement. Well, there was another noise, and my Mom shot two holes in the door to his shop. My uncle checked the shop the next day and found no trace anyone had been in it. We never found what caused the noise.

Fred the Ghost

Mom often told us the house had ghosts. She would recount the things “Fred” did. When she and Dad sold the house and moved to Washington, she said Fred went with her. I don’t remember the name, but she once said George had company in the new house. The stories started after my grandfather died in her bedroom.

Mom had a garden at the new house. She and Dad canned vegetables and made jams and jellies. She would send jars of each to the local Catholic Church for the priest and nuns. The nuns taught the elementary school I attended.

Mom became very generous after Dad retired and began working for the post office. She had the income to be so. I don’t know how she learned of families in need, but  Mom would send food, clothes, or/and money when she did. When asked, Mom would say the money came from “her sock.” It always seemed to have a few dollars and never ran out. She said, “a good deed will be returned many times over.” I think she paraphrased a biblical passage.

Mom became set in her ways in her later years, and sometimes ruffled feathers. I forgive her those times as I remember all the love she gave us when most needed.

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