Time did not stand still. The days at first were a blur. Then the days seemed endless with memories that were so fresh that they seemed like they happened just yesterday. The winter was the longest of my life. There were days I would just sit on my front steps and feel sorry for myself. Many of my Mom's friends talked to me when they came to visit her and check on her to see if she needed anything. One of my Aunts told me that "Time Heals All Wounds." I thought it was a stupid saying. Me being 10 years old I didn't understand what it meant really.
My classmates at school were all very supportive. The teachers paid special attention to me. Not many students lose their father at 10 years old. There was no grief counseling back then. I watched my mother and saw how she handled it. She was constantly in motion. She had my 5 sisters to tend to and she had to work three jobs at first to make ends meet. My Father had purchased "Hunter's Insurance" each year for the 17 years they were married to help with any financial problems my Mother might encounter in case he died while deer hunting. The hunting insurance did not cover natural causes. Who dies of a heart attack at 40 years? The insurance did not cover my Dad's death. My mother had a really hard time making ends meet the first few months. She sold off his boat and a couple guns to make it through the winter. We had to go on welfare that spring.
My mother kept all the financial things from us kids. Her brother gave her money when he could but he was raising a family himself and could only spare so much. My mother wanted to keep our childhood as normal as possible. She lost 25 pounds the first year. She wasn't fat to begin with. I have never seen such a determined person in my life. She decided she needed to be ultra healthy for us kids. She gave up smoking. It was quite a feat. She finally looked at the price of cigarettes and it was a no brainer in her mind.
Spring came and we had made it over the winter hump. The oil bills for the furnace almost did us in that first winter. I remember being covered with 4 blankets during the night because we needed to turn down the furnace at night. Our family really needed spring to come. The trees budding and the world turning green again gave us all hope. I could see hope in my mother's eyes again. She even smiled every once in a while. Our family was healing.
It was the last week of April. The time was special in my world. It was the weekend before trout fishing. I went to my parent's closet to get my fishing pole out. The closet was empty of fishing poles. There used to be the minimum of a dozen poles in there with at least two tackle boxes brimming with gear. They were all gone. I thought my mom must have moved them and I went to ask her where my pole was.
Mom was in the kitchen making supper. I casually asked her where my pole was. I told her that Trout Season Opened the "First Of May" and I needed to get my pole ready for the morning because it was opening day in the morning. My mother seemed like she didn't hear me at first when I asked where my pole was. I repeated my question. My mom looked at me and told me this: "The winter almost sank the Harris Ship." "I had to do what it took to keep us afloat." " I sold all of the fishing poles and tackle boxes to pay the heating bills." I was ten years old and I didn't understand bills. I was very upset that my mom had sold my fishing pole. How was I going to trout fish without a pole and lures? I left the kitchen crying. Ten minutes later I saw my mother leave the house and come back about an hour later.
I went to bed and cried myself to sleep. The spring was not good for me any more. It sucked. Opener was in the morning and I was without my father and my fishing pole. My life just became bad again. I dreamed about my Dad during the night. He didn't die. We were getting up at 5am like every year and going out fishing. I was happy again.
At 5am I heard my room door open. It was my uncle and he woke me up. He told me to get dressed and get ready for fishing. I told him I didn't have a pole. I said: "I can't fish without a pole." He hurried me and said lets get going. I got dressed quickly. My mother had made the traditional breakfast for the "Trout" anglers just like she did for Dad and I each year. My uncle and I ate it up and went to leave to go fish. We went out to the pickup to go fishing. I asked my uncle what I was going use to fish with. He reached into the back of the pickup and gave me my new Zebco 404 and tackle box that Mom had purchase for me last night. I ran back to the house and gave my mom a big hug and a kiss and told her she was the best mom in the world.
My mother "Jane Harris" with my daughter Anna on her 84th birthday a week ago. The Best Mom EVER.