By Leona Rochelle
I am a housewife, mother of four children, grandmother of five. I am middle-aged, frankly so, slightly overweight and only moderately attractive. I hold no college degrees; I would be lost in the fast-moving world of business. But I am not neurotic, I am not frustrated, and I do not take tranquilizers!
Often when I finish reading an article telling what’s wrong with the average housewife, I’m downright disgusted and I’m surprised that I’ve ever had the sense to come in out of the rain. According to the writers of these articles I should be mired down in self-pity, constantly running to men of medicine for pills that do not help, seeking a cure for ills that do not exist.
How can I be happy when I have none of the things I’m told are necessary for me to lead a full life, to know myself and to become a whole per-son? I feel that I have a duty to be happy, an obligation to myself as well as to those around me. An optimistic attitude of mind is essential to my well being. Power, peace and healing are the natural products of a happy disposition, and a single spiritual idea can give poise and confidence.
Happiness does not in any measure depend on material possessions. I’ve never owned a Renoir, but I’ve walked with my children to the top of a high hill to look down on the breath-taking scene below and the splendor of a winter sunset. I’ve never been to the opera, but I’ve listened to the songs of birds, the chirping of the crickets in clover and the sighing of the wind in the pines. I’ve never been applauded by the masses, but I’ve shared with God the wonderful miracle of creation and I’ve had the thrill of hearing a tiny lisping voice whispering “you are the bestest muvver (orgyandmuvver) in the whole world.”
Does it really matter that I did not go to high school? My formal schooling was abruptly halted when I was 12 years old, but I have the ability to greet each dawn with a smile and with eagerness for the opportunities the day contains. I have the intelligence to approach my work, even the doing of tiresome and monotonous chores, with willing hands, and an open mind; and I can face the night with gladness, with a tiredness of body that woos me to sleep, happy in the knowledge that I have spent wisely this God-given day.
Life has not been easy for me. I’ve weathered several major illnesses, among them cancer and two heart attacks. I’ve held a sick baby in my arms all night, not just one night, but many, expecting every breath to be her last. I’ve walked the floors for hours while my husband lay under the surgeon’s knife, hoping and praying that something could be done before his lifeblood all drained away. I’ve stood helplessly by and watched my home and all my earthly possessions burn.
I am only 17 years older than my oldest child, and I never read Dr. Spock. So what? She could not have grown into a finer person had I been 30 and held a dozen degrees. Oh, yes, she and the three younger ones often wore clothes to school that were made of feed sacks, but no one knew. I learned early to use my hands and my little girls’ dresses were the envy of their classmates. The fact that their clothes were homemade did not keep any of them from being among the top 10 percent of their respective classes, scholastically.
Often it seemed to me that I was spending years just continued from previous page washing and ironing. But the clothes line was an inspiration; little girl dresses became rainbows and little boy trousers were wind-filled balloons, and I’ve had many poems published that I composed while hanging the wash on the line. The money received from the sale of these poems was often used to buy insulin .. .
So what if I don’t have a college degree? Once I was told that the greatest university in the world was not enclosed by four walls, but by an inquiring mind, a loving heart, a willingness, an eagerness to learn and a deep faith in God. To these I would add a good dictionary and access to a public library.
I do not feel that I am indispensable. Certainly my part in the great drama of life is small, like a pebble carelessly tossed into a whirling pool, for a moment only the rhythm is disturbed. When I am dead the snow will still fall in the winter, trees will still bud and put out new life in the springtime, autumn will follow summer and the leaves will drift noiselessly down as they have for unnumbered centuries; but I have not lived in vain.
For a little time my children will grieve for me, but I would not have their grief to last too long. I would have them think of me as walking the hills of Heaven, greeting old friends and making new ones, looking for my share of gold, not in shining pavements but in blossoming daffodils or goldenrod, happy to be in the presence of my God.
The landscapes I paint give pleasure tome and mine, but I know I’ll leave behind no great masterpiece of art, no deathless prose, no soul-stirring poem. But I will leave behind children and grandchildren with a deep and sincere faith in God and an appreciation of all his handiwork. 1 know that often when they see a lovely sunset, or stark bare tree branches etched against a winter sky, or the heart-stopping beauty of wild plum trees in bloom, or wild geese flying over, or smell the pungent odor of burning leaves, or freshly turned loam, they will pause and say: “Mother loved this so.” And for a moment I’ll live again.
God in his infinite wisdom, knowing my capabilities and my limitations, chose me for this station and this time. He has granted me leisure to sit and look at the wonders of the robin and the sparrow as they labor to build their nest; I’ve observed their loving care as they fed their babies and taught them to fly. Ive watched a fern uncurl, a flower unfold, a tiny seed pushing its way up through the moist earth, and in all of these things I’ve caught a glimpse of the unseen Hand of God.
I’m just a housewife, but if I had my life to live over and could choose any position in the world, I would choose no other way! (Reprinted from the church bulletin of the Church of Christ in Chipley Florida.
Guardian of Truth XXXVII: 18, p. 7-8
September 16, 1993