My mother was the second of five daughters. She'd always wanted an older brother, and every time her mother went to the hospital to have another baby, my mom would ask her to bring back an older brother. Finally, after getting three little sisters, my mom told my grandmother to stop trying, as she could see that she was unlikely to get an older brother.
When Mom was little, her family lived with Babci, which is Polish for grandmother, and aunts and uncles and cousins on Babci's farm. Babci's name was Katherine, and my mother was so close to her, she gave me that name as my middle name. They had Hereford cows, and my mom loved their big brown eyes and the creamy white tufts of fur on their foreheads. Although she liked living on the farm, she never really understood why Babci had cows. She told me the story that when Babci was a girl in Poland, her job every day was to bring to cow out to graze in a field in the morning and bring her back home in the evening. She finally came to America when she was sixteen. Her sister, Mary, was already there, and Babci asked a female police officer for directions to Mary's house. When she got older, she married Frank, who had the great idea to buy a farm and raise cows.
My mom helped her father build their house after they had been living with Babci for a few years. She would stand at the foot of the ladder as he hammered, retrieving the nails that he dropped so they wouldn't be wasted.
Mom sometimes worked summers in the tobacco fields, of which northern Connecticut has a lot. The bus would come pick her up first at six in the morning, then get all the other kids and bring them all over the river to the fields. She got home at six in the evening, after all the others had been dropped off. They worked long days in the hot sun of the open fields. She liked working in the tobacco fields because it was fun to work with the other kids, but she never smoked tobacco even though she picked it. Whenever we drive up to visit my grandma, who still lives in the house my mom helped my grandfather build, my mom points out the fields of broadleaf tobacco, the white tents for shade tobacco, and the tobacco barns where they would hang the leaves to dry. I like seeing the shade tobacco best, especially from an airplane, because when you're flying over a field of it, all you see of the tents is a grid of little white squares.
All our family is Polish, but my mom never learned to speak Polish. Whenever her parents wanted to talk about something without my mom and her sisters understanding, they would talk in Polish. So my mom only knows a few words that she learned in school, and she taught me those words. We like to use them when we bake, because we can count to four and we know the words for baking things like eggs, milk, butter. We'll toss the tub of butter to each other and say maslo mucha, which means butter fly- not butterfly, but the two separate words, butter and fly.
My mom and I have always gotten along pretty well. Of course, we've had our arguments like any parent and child, but through all of that we've always had a strong relationship. Unlike most teenagers I know, I like spending time with my mom. We like a lot of the same things. We listen to the same music- we both love The Beatles. She introduced me to Peter, Paul, and Mary, and The Mamas and The Papas. I introduced her to Queen. We like to go shopping together because we know each other's style and we enjoy helping each other find just the right shirt or pair of socks. One of our favorite things to do on the weekend is watch movies together. We love old movies, especially with Audrey Hepburn or Sidney Poitier, and we're always referring to one movie or another, which always bugs my brother because he doesn't know what we're talking about.
When my mom was a kid, she was a Girl Scout; even when there wasn't a leader for her troop, she helped out with her younger sister's troop. When I got old enough to be a Girl Scout, she brought me to sign up, but I wasn't really sure if I wanted to join. She finally convinced me by saying that if I would try it out, she would be the troop leader. I agreed, and we've both been very active in Scouts ever since. Just like my mom had to help out with her younger sisters, now we help girls in younger troops. She brings me to many different events where I have met a variety of people. My mom remains very involved and wants to make the world a better place for everyone, as stated in the Girl Scout Law.
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