Do you ever have people come into your lives and you do not realize their importance or the impact they have on your life til long after they have gone?
In the early seventies I was a young woman who had just come out of an abusive relationship and was living back home with my mom who had just left my step dad because of his abuse. I had no job because I had left my job in Kansas City Mo. I guess you can say I was adrift and had no clue what was going to happen in my life.
One day this woman called me and asked me if I would be interested in taking care of her mother. Her mother and dad owned a farm and her mom had suffered a severe heart attack several weeks before and was unable to do her housework. I was desperate and needed a job so I took it.
I got more then a job. I got Florence.
If I had seen Florence out on the street, I would not have guessed that petit little dynamo with the black hair and dancing irish eyes was ill at all. She smiled and led me around her house, giving me the grand tour of where I would be sleeping and where the farm hands and her son, stayed and then going into detail of how I would be getting up at five in the morning and having breakfast for the men who would be out doing work in the barn.
I was not sure how well I would handle that getting up at five but once I got the hang of it, I was fine. Besides Florence got up with me and talked to me while I cooked and cleaned. She would tell me stories of what life was like when she and her husband were first married and how much she loved him and her life as a farm wife.
Florence weighed about a hundred pounds soaking wet but this was a woman who often bailed hay and pitched manure like a man. She was a lady is some ways but she could tell a raunchy joke like the rest of them. Sometimes we would sit out in the yard and tell jokes and laugh with Gladys, the neighboring farmers wife.
Anyone who thinks farmers wives had it easy do not know what it is like on a farm. They often got up and helped with the milking then went in and got a huge breakfast on the table for their men who were working in the fields. Took care of the kids, got a lunch on then a dinner and then went back out to help with the evening work on the farm. Very often they had to set up with a sick animal all night or help deliver one of the calves. Then there was the gardening, canning and butchering......the work never stopped for them. But with all that, Florence found something to laugh about.
She could also be serious too. There were times when my abuse caused me to have nightmares and Florence would come to my rescue and talk to me while cried. Some times she did not say much. She would just pat my shoulder and let me know she understood and was willing to wait til I was ready to talk to her about it. She never pried.
She tried so hard to get me to marry her son but he and I just did not see eye to eye. I wondered how such a wonderful woman and her husband who was just as nice could have had such an arrogant fool for son. So, she introduced me to my husband.
Florence was great at giving advice. She liked 'mothering' me the way she did the young men who worked for her husband. She taught me how to listen to people without passing judgement on them. She taught me to laugh at myself and to like who I was. I regained my confidence because of her.
She was at my wedding and a short time after I got married, she passed away. I miss her. I miss sitting out in the yard with her on a warm summer night, laughing, drinking iced tea and eating watermelon.