Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Humble Beginnings

There in beautiful western Maryland in Washington County valley at the 100th mile marker of the Mason-Dixon Line (separating the states of Pennsylvania and Maryland) a modest low-income family lived among fields of corn and wheat, surrounded by neighboring farm houses, many of the Mennonite sect. Washington County, Maryland is a scenic place to raise a family. A place where the beautiful South Mountain becomes part of the Appalachian Mountain ridge line.

As the warm sun crested thru the pear tree branches in the backyard, the young girl laid on her back, looking at the blue sky and the puffy clouds overheard. One could often find her there on summer days, daydreaming of things to come. It was her favorite place in all the world. Lazily, she dreamed of growing up and becoming a woman, having a boyfriend, or her first kiss. As would often happen she would be disrupted by a gentle voice calling her to come in and help with supper. That gentle voice belonged to her Mother, Ruth, whom she dearly loved and cherished. And who in her adult life would become her best friend.

Her Mother was short in stature, only 5’2” tall with a heavyset build
A perfect description could be Mrs. Santa as she was kind, generous and loving to all who knew her. As long as Judy could remember, her Mother had beautiful white hair which crested her round face and brought out the well-known smile. She was a good cook, as were all the Wallick girls were and often Judy would come home from school to find delicious homemade chocolate pudding in the fridge awaiting her and her brother. And the holidays were always a special treat as she would make delicious cookies and fruitcakes – dark and white, seasoned lightly with a touch of liquor for all to enjoy.

Ruth was soft spoken with a pretty smile that would warm anyone’s heart. A smile people would often comment on and eventually became her trademark to all who knew her. She was a lady of great faith.

A dedicated loving Mother and wife and always kept a well cleaned home for her family. Judy truly looked up to her. How could she not? Ruth always put herself last and made sure those she loved were taken care of. This was evident when her mother became disabled and could not take care of herself, without hesitation
She stepped up and took Judy’s Grandma in her home, lovingly caring for her every need. Yet she still made time to give to her family and their needs. Judy often thought as she got older and grew more of an understanding of life, how her Mother was able to do it all. She certainly was spread thin. What a wonder she was.

Judy’s family didn’t have a lot of income. Her father, Jake was a jack of all-trades and in Judy’s eyes master of all. He could do anything she thought so often. He was a hard worker and kindhearted often helping others, whether it was mowing lawns or fixing a car. But her father made a meager wage. But what her memories fondly remembers most about her Daddy was how he loved fishing, and how good of mechanic he was. He could fix anything and it seemed everyone in the neighborhood knew that, as they would often come seek his advice. And most Sunday, he would take Judy to church. She was so proud to sit beside her Daddy as the sermon was given. They always filled the first pew in the balcony and how fine the beautiful majestic altar and stain glass windows were. Judy felt so close to God in that place and always felt a closeness to her God.

Her father, Jake was a tall and lanky man, 6 foot in height and weighing in usually around 170 pounds. And how he did love to smoke cigarettes. He would always tell Judy not to smoke for it was the dirtiest habit and then added he just couldn’t stop. Basically hinting to her each time the subject came up that once addicted it was too hard to stop. It wasn’t until he was up in years and suffered numerous strokes and a heart attack was he able to end the addiction.

The family’s home was not a fancy one. It was referred to as a semi-bungalow but to Judy it was wonderful and always filled with wonderful smells. It contained a knotty pine kitchen, a nice dining room adjoining the living room, modestly finished where many a good times was spent with family and friends. Her mother decorated many of the windows with beautiful white drapes that embraced the surroundings. Upon entering the home, there was a beautiful stairway on the right leading to 3 bedrooms and a full bath. Her brother, Bob, seven years older than she, didn’t want a large room and Judy was always thankful for that – and upon immediately moving in, she possessed that room as her private domain. There she would spend hours upon hours, dreaming and plotting out her life. Sharing special times with her friends. She spent many days standing in front of the mirrored chest of drawers singing to her favorite songs on her tiny transistor radio. That was truly a safe haven for a young girl to grow up in. And it was always comforting for her to be there.

Although money was extremely limited, it did not concern her.
Seldom was there money left to go around to purchase new clothes or that special gift she so wanted. During this time, for several years, her Aunt Bubbie, took pity on the tall, thin, awkward girl and made her tops and skirts from the feed sacks they got at the mill for their farm. These surely made Judy stand out at school, but Judy gave little thought to that except occasional when she would feel the embarrassment of students in the class. But Judy would just ignore them and held the hurt inside. What more could she want, she had a loving family, a warm home, and lots of relatives that they would frequent visit and have over. And she was fortunate to have those new clothes from her generous Aunt! Each school year, her father and mother would take her to the local Sears and she got to order one new dress and a pair of shoes. In her eyes that was almost as great as Christmas!