Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Lesson About Raisins

My mother was, well not exactly a woman of few words, but a woman of strange words, to me at least! For instance, when she was amazed by something she would say, "Well, I wish to may never see the back of my neck!", or "Well, 'pon my word and honor!" Growing up with my mother and knowing her the way I did, I always got the gist of what she was saying even if the words made no sense to me. If I was doing something I wasn't suppose to she would sling out a verbal threat to me as she went about her work, "You better behave or I'll take a keen willer limb to you!" I knew full well what that meant and had felt the brunt of it many times!!

My mother was full of advice for us kids too, like, "You better eat that food. There's little children acrosst the waters starving to death!" Now being a somewhat rebellious child and not a lover of food at that time, I would think to myself, "Well, give them my food 'cause I don't want it!" I was never allowed to backtalk or to even voice things I thought but it sure didn't stop me from thinking them!

One piece of advice my mother gave me has forever been embedded in my mind. I don't remember the whys or wherefores of the conversation or even if we were having a conversation that day but her words to me were, "Don't ever get above your raisin'." You know how sometimes when you hear someone say something you instantly get a mental image? (Sometimes one you wish you'd never seen and could just as instantly erase?) The image I saw when I heard those profound words was RAISINS. Yes, good old Sunmaid, dried in the sun from grapes, raisins! What did it mean to "get above your raisins"??? It wasn't until I was almost grown that I understood what she was saying to me. Don't ever forget where you came from and never look down on those less fortunate than you.

With all that being said, I want to share with you where I came from. I grew up in a holler, or "hollow" for those of you that don't speak hillbilly. I've often joked to other people that we had to pipe in sunshine which wasn't that far from the truth. The only direct sunlight we got was for a short period around noon when the sun was straight overhead. About the only modern conveniences we had were running water, electricity and a radio which brought us the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night and how we looked forward to that!! We had no bathroom, just the little brown shack out back. We took baths in a big washtub behind the Warm Morning stove. I've shared with you here about my feed sack clothes. My mother washed every Monday on a wringer washing machine and we hung clothes on lines strung all over the holler! Tuesday we ironed all day. The chores for these two days were written in stone by my mother. It never varied. One of my chores, also written in stone, came after all the clothes were washed and strung on the lines. I had to empty the still hot, sudsy water from the washer into a bucket and with an old broom scrub down the outhouse from top to bottom. I think we must have had the cleanest outhouse in all the surrounding mother would make sure of it!

In today's society we would have been considered poor, underpriviledged, deprived. But I now know we were rich in so many ways. Our house (and outhouse) was always very clean, we crawled between fresh smelling sheets every night to sleep, had lots of handmade-by-my-mother quilts to cover us against the cold in the winter. How I'd like to go back (now that I love to eat) and taste those wonderful homemade meals we for a king!

I now live in a nice (old) house with many modern conveniences that I'm very thankful for, especially a bathroom! :0) I'm also thankful that I had parents who took care of all my needs, not my wants. I'm especially thankful for the piece of advice given to me by my mother so long ago, "Don't ever get above your raisin'.", very much akin to the Golden Rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Back in the spring Dave took me to see the little house in the holler again. The house itself still looks about the same but the once cleared land around it is now almost completely overgrown. At one time there was even a sawmill on up the road past our house and big trucks went in and out hauling the logs to different places. Now the road is almost invisible and totally impassable. But this holler is still a big part of my humble beginnings where I learned many valuable life lessons, one that I have stored away in my heart and tried to base my life on: "Don't ever get above your raisin'."

old home place


Lib said...

Hi Hope,
I feel like this post was reading about my childhood. You were rich your had runnin' water, we had to carry our from the "SPRANG".For a long time we had Oil Lamps no electric.
You know its those days of simple hard work that makes us appreciate so much today, I am so Thankful for all I have and I know you are too.
I taught our son Not to get above his "RAISINS" too, and I see so many our my ways in him today.SHORE makes a Mama Proud! :o)
Now that I'm mid 50s I sure wish I could tell my Mom thanks for the type upbringing I had.
I Love,LOve LOve Your Blog!
You are so Uplifting, Positive, and stir up so many memories in me.Thanks!Blessins',

Karen H. said...

Good Afternoon Hope,
Dadburnit, pass me the hankie. LOL. I have tears in my eyes just reading this. I never lived like that, but have heard my Mom and other relatives telling about things like this. I was always told about not eating and there were kids starving all over. I tell that to my kids even now. Sometimes tho don't like what I fix and I tell them you can eat it or do without because there are many kids going hungry. I tell them they ought to be Thankful they have a Mother that cooks a good meal for them. I remember my Grandparents having an outhouse. Girl, I hated going to that. I'm so glad I didn't have to use one. I've never heard that sayin about never go above your raisins before. I always heard you will pay for your raisings. I will tell you this, while I was reading this it brought memories of me of seeing the Loretta Lynn Story of A Coal Miner's Daughter. I love the picture of your old homested. You should have that framed my friend. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I so enjoyed reading it. We used to get whippin's with willow switches and belts when I was growing up. I didn't like those days. LOL. Them thar willow switches shore do hurt. Hey, I may have been brought up in a small town, but I'm a Southern Hillbilly all the way. Give me some Redneck jokes and I'm there. LOL. Take care my friend and have a great evening. May God Bless You and Yours.

Love & Hugs,
Karen H.
P.S. Dadburnit, ain't it a shame you, Lib, and me don't live close together. If we did, we would pert near be neighbors. said...

Hope this is SO good!! I just loved it! I had a wringer type washer until 1968 and had to pump the water to wash the clothes!! I had lines strung up out doors too!
When I was little we had outhouse's too!

I had to churn butter in a large jar container for my Mom. That was one of my jobs! I think I told you I will be 70 in Aug, so when I was real little we didn't have electric lights! I sure do appreciate all the wonderful modern stuff we have now!
This was a great post today!!

Kelly has made her cake!! and candy!! I have enjoyed being in the kitchen with her! Thanks so much for Wishing her a Happy Birthday!! Love and Hugs Grams

Brandy said...

Hi Hope. Your rasin story reminded me of something Salena said today. She and mom were watching TV and there was a man on there. Mom commented that the man looked like Bill Upchurch. Salena said I dont think I know Bill Upchurch. Mom said yes you do.That is Stephanies dad. Salena then asked Stephanie who. Mom told her Stephanie Upchurch. Salena, still confused, kept asking mom who she was. Finally mom told her it was Seirra's mom. Salena looked at mom very puzzeled and then said, Mom Seirra dont go up church. lol the whole time sis was trying to think of a man named Bill that goes to her church!!!