Thursday, February 21, 2008

Red River Valley of the Shadow of Death

When I was a child, my great grandmother had a stroke and was confined to her bed. She and my great grandfather lived with us after this happened. They were married over 50 years and one of my earliest memories is driving with my family back to Arkansas to their golden anniversary party. My great grandmother and I never missed Little House on the Prairie. We watched it together every single week.

I remember the first time I saw the episode where Ma Ingalls finds out she is going through the change. I remember her crying and saying that she felt useless to Pa because she could not bear him any more children. She was afraid he would not want her anymore; her purpose on this earth was gone. I thought she was crazy then, in the 70's as a girl who had not yet met her Aunt Flow. I still do.

I can understand her feeling a little sad at the thought of not having another baby. I've felt that. The "because one is enough" byline of this blog is not only referring to Robby's dimple. It also reminds me that he will be my only child and to make it enough. I imagine in real prairie life though, Ma would have been thrilled.

They had no television and the sun went down early on the prairie. Doc Baker had no birth control to offer and she couldn't get a pack of Trojans at the mercantile. She had to be tired too. She did all the cooking, cleaning, childcare and still had to substitute at the school every now and then. She worked as hard as Pa did; maybe even a little more at times. I think my great grandmother could relate to her though. She was a farmer's wife with seven children of her own. I like to think that she respects the different choices I have made. And I also hope she knows how much respect and admiration I have for the strength, sense of family and abundant love she lavished on everyone she met. Thanks, grandma. I miss you.

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