BY-WAYS - 2/14/46 - Bedlam with too many living at 1337 Plainfield Rd

Monday -
The ball-and-chain of any chore Is the dull and dreary mood;
Whether you're free - or a bonded slave -
Depends on your attitude.

I mean that so sincerely, and feel it so profoundly that I am tempted to send these four lines - and nothing more - for this week's column. But preachers and teachers and eminent writers elaborate on their themes. So bear with me, a would-be-eminent writer, while I elaborate on mine. Every day of the week I can take a leaf from Mother Taylor's book, and enrich my own book of knowledge - or Pandect of Wisdom. Don't think for a moment that it's a bed of roses - living with relatives who wish you could find a home of your own. But here we are - with no prospect of finding a house or apartment at any price. There are days when you know that the well-ordered trio - Mother, Dad, and Margery - are sick to death of my clutter of papers, notes, clippings, etc.; of Charlie's piano-playing obsession - or Tommy's penchant for bursting through doors and slamming same - or Estelle's predilection for tuning in on her favorite radio program when she and Tommy come home - or Virgil Jr. (home over the week-end) galloping up and downstairs like a team of horses ... or Charlie's boy-friends' assuming squatters' rights on the davenport and easy chairs. But the quiet three have a grand sense of humor, marvelous innate courtesy, and tolerance of all short-comings. So we do get along together.

There are things about the British that irritate me to prickly heat. But I would be a blind fool if I could not recognize and be daily aware of the sterling qualities and delightful delinquencies of the "in-laws" that I live with. Mother Taylor's own attitude inspires the quatrain at the head of the column. It took Mother nearly two years to get over the shock and bereavement of Clarence's death. (As for Margery, a part of her went with him). But in this new year, Mother has become her old, sunny self. She puts the rest of us to shame. She has a whole string of enthusiasms. The first, the early morning cup of tea. (Imagine tea for breakfast!) Dad takes her tray of tea and toast up to her every morning - as faithful as sunrise itself. Her one luxury: Breakfast in bed. But she's almost insulted if you ever suggest that she lie down in the daytime. She has a bevy of "boy-friends," as Margery calls them. First and foremost, Tom Brenneman, of radio fame; then Drew Pearson and Walter Winchell; Kenneth Quine, our faithful country-egg man, who loves Mother so much that he begs for the privilege of taking her to the annual dance for the blind. (And she dances like a debutante). She never misses Lum and Abner, nor "Information, Please," nor Thursday night's "Town Meeting." Her hands are never idle - except by enforced inactivity. That means, when she runs out of sewing or knitting or crocheting material. She has made countless patchwork quilts, big and little. A new baby always inspires a new little quilt. Her latest fad is the hooked rug. She makes it out of strips of discarded clothing - stockings, knitwear, everything. We are her abject slaves who must cut the strips for her. But then, she does all the dishes (if we let her - and we usually do) except Sunday noon and evening. I am constantly impressed by her sweet and patient disposition. Her conquest over her own blindness is only one of many personal triumphs. Being a true mother, she shares every ache and pain with Margery, who is her idol. Yet she never lets these cruciations get her down. For her there is a sunny side to every dark cloud. Her patience with Dad is one of the beautiful things of this earth. And that remark is no reflection on Dad. Since his serious illness two years ago his memory fails him, and he is easily confused. He forgets what Mother has told him - especially at meal time, when it falls upon him to lift their hot dishes. Mother has to tell him over and over, and sometimes he gets nervous and irritable; but I have yet to hear her speak impatiently. She has no neuroses or complexes of any kind. She never, never plays the martyr.

There were some gorgeous sunsets this past month. One evening Dad and I were reveling in the beauty of one as we looked through our living-room window. Then I suddenly thought about Mother. Would she be feeling her cross - that she could not share this feast of beauty with us? I looked at her expressive face. It was all a-glow with interest. She was seeing it - in her mind's eye. A year ago one of our neighbors - a wonderful woman - Mrs. Follin, a widow - passed away, and left an only daughter of 35 to mourn her death. Miss Follin, a charming school-teacher, sold their house last fall, and moved away. Before she left she stopped in to tell Mother good-bye. She confided to Mother that is was hard to go on alone, and begged for her serenity and peace. Mother replied, "My greatest help comes from the words of our Lord, 'Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world'."

Faithfully yours,
Florence B. Taylor

Next - 2/28/46 - A Pick at the Picket. Food for Thought
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