My mother, born in 1909, was the first born to my young grandparents. Born on a dirt road, the name that was recorded on her birth certificate was "Baby Coyle". She was not expected to live. She weighed less than three pounds and could not digest milk. By some miracle, and because she had a large extended family who took care of her, she lived beyond anyone's expectations. So small was she, that she slept in a dresser drawer. True story. So, it isn't just in TV westerns that this was done. She was unable to sit up, so they improvised and placed soft cardboard around her so she would not flop frontward, sideways, or backward. Over time, she must have begun to take in some form of nourishment, and the stories that were told to me of the concoctions my grandfather made for her to ingest were gruesome. He ordered medical encyclopedias through the mail and used a meat press to squish the juices from meat to make broth for my mother to drink. I'm pretty sure raw eggs were in her diet, too. Ugh. Perhaps this is where the phrase, "if it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger" originated. Because she could not digest milk, her bones were soft. Her caregivers couldn't even get her to crawl for a long time, but by the age of four, she began to walk. As it turned out, doctors later said it was good that she did not try to walk before because her soft bones would have been curved, which would have only added to her difficulties. I'm not sure how old she was, perhaps 7 or 8, when my grandfather's sister, who was a nurse in Rochester, suggested she be seen at a hospital where they had therapies that might help her. My mother told me the story of being put into a hydrotherapy tub that scared her so much that she pulled the plug and drained the water out. After that day, they didn't try any more hydrotherapy.
|My mother, Edythe Louise Coyle's baby picture.|
My mother's family was poor. Like most farms of the day, theirs was a small one. They raised pigs, cows and chickens and the crops to feed them. They sold eggs and butter to the local community. When the Great Depression hit, they tried to keep food on the table by hiring the kids out to bring in some extra money. My mother and her younger sister were mother's helpers for a couple well-to-do families in the area. Because my mother was handicapped (or in those days, "afflicted"), she was paid $3 a week instead of the $5 that her sister was paid. When my mother wasn't employed in that capacity, she helped out her elderly relatives. She would often go stay with them for weeks at a time and she eventually learned to drive a truck and drove them to town for their errands and to visit their friends and family. My mother loved the feeling of independence that driving gave her. It allowed her to be mobile and when she could, she would drive anywhere.
Throughout the 1930's and the 1940's, she remained on the farm and had a large flock of chickens and peddled eggs and butter in the nearby village of Leroy. In the mid-1940's a widower and his sons bought the farm just up the road. One of those sons used to call on my mother's family. He befriended my grandparents and eventually my mother. After a short courtship, he asked her to marry him. This was something my mother never expected to happen to her. She had watched her sisters as they dated, got engaged and married; but never thought it was in the cards for her. But God had a plan for her. He sent my father to her.
|My parents, Ralph and Edythe Hawker, on their wedding day, June 24, 1948|
Thank you for stopping by today to read my post. As always, your questions and comments are welcome here or on Facebook. I do read them and I will reply. It is my sincere wish that you and those you love are well and happy. God bless our mothers, and until we meet again, may the Lord hold you in the hollow of His hand.