Monday, August 31, 2015

The Trickle-Down

On the last night Aunt Reta was here, my younger siblings Karen and Cameron joined us for supper. JOAN, you were missed!

But we got Reta to take this picture for you. Almost as good as being here... ?

Three Stooges (Don't I always say this? Time for some new material.)
Reta stayed with me the first week she was here in Saskatchewan, and there was a lot of idle chat, interesting (to me) nevertheless. We talked about the old house on the farm where Grandma and Grandpa lived when Karen and I were little girls, and what it was like for Reta and Mom, growing up there.

Grandma was a fussy housekeeper who made regular meals and kept the house shipshape but did not do outside work. The girls also did not; they helped indoors, and my uncles Neil and Bruce helped in the farmyard and in the field.

Lunch was sometimes carried out to the field with Grandpa in the morning, but when the evening meal was ready, it was always at a certain time: suppertime.  If Grandpa was in the field (the boys were younger than the girls so maybe they weren't yet out there), Reta would be sent out to the hill to wave a flag so he'd know it was time to come in. And this he did, because Grandma's schedule was to be respected. Also, there was no running water (just a hand-pump in the kitchen), and water had to be heated on the woodstove, and no one expected her to be washing dishes at 9 o'clock at night. She was not like me; she would never have left the dishes on the counter overnight and gone to bed. No women in those days would have done that, just as most now probably do not. Grandma would have been up cleaning the kitchen at midnight if that's what it took. Grandpa had enough respect for her work and for her to make sure that didn't happen. And clearly he appreciated those meals.

The first time I made a lunch for Scott when he was working out in the farmyard, and he didn't come in when I called, I was offended. How rude! I thought. I've gone to the trouble to make lunch at lunchtime, to ensure everything's on the table hot and fresh, and ... he couldn't care less. He'll eat it cold when he gets in, when he finishes what he's doing. His work is more important than mine.

To him, that is.

It's a different way that our families have, I see now, of looking at things. Perhaps a different valuation of "women's"  and "men's" work?

Family history can be quite the eye-opener, and it surely does bleed into our attitudes in the present, but until now this is one area where I didn't understand why it is the way it is. I told Karen about this conversation and she said Well yes, if I make a meal and Dick doesn't come in and eat it at mealtime, it pisses me off.

Now we know where our expectations come from. They have leaked down through the generations. Realizing this has made me look at a number of other things from an altered angle, too.

Karen also played the piano for us. She knows "one" song, she said, and played it, and then after a few minutes jumped up exclaiming "Oh, I know one more!" and played that too. You won't see her performance here, but the link to it will be in the monthly NEWSLETTER I'm sending out tomorrow. If you haven't signed up yet, what are you waiting for? You don't know what you're missing. I mean, literally.

From where I sat in the car when Reta went into the service station to buy her bus ticket to Saskatoon on Wednesday morning, I could see Scott and his brother Bruce when they arrived at Leonard's house, where they are working on an addition. Here, Scott and Leonard have a quick chat before they get down to business.