Things we never knew

Melissa Hart

Our mom passed recently and now we have the fun of sifting and sorting through our childhood home to get it ready for the next occupants. We have only scratched the surface and I had no idea this chore would turn into days of discovery about our parents.File cabinets, desks and dressers have served as the hiding places of history for a marriage of six decades. We’ve read letters to the editor, newspaper clippings about historic events both local and nationally and there must be a least a dozen journals my mom started and then put aside to attend to the busyness of a family on a farm.The treasure trove of mom’s history was found in one big box of memorabilia and that’s where we learned some things we never knew.The nickname we never knew, “Hey Ginge’!” What? Who was this? One of her beaus from college addressed her with that sweet name as he wrote from a faraway land while serving in the military. He was very impressed with her and wrote about his boring weeks of basic training, counting the days until he was finished. He tried to impress her, but obviously he was just a flash in the pan.The dress we never saw. We happened upon a photo of mom in college at a formal occasion in a strapless number we had never seen before. It was a classic black and white dress and she looked stunning, but strapless was not a wardrobe option our apron wearing mom preferred or at least that’s what we thought.Abounding beaus, while 63 years of marriage indicates she found to the love of her life, we learned there may have been more precursors to her handsome husband than we thought. There were several letters from boys who were interested in our mom and even more letters from our grandma to our mom with advice on lost loves. Words of wisdom like, “No one ever died from a broken heart,” and “You’ll get over him soon enough,” were scattered among the handwritten pages from home. Encouragement was also a theme, “You are an intelligent, talented, beautiful young woman, now stop feeling sorry for yourself,” and “If you want a friend, you need to be a friend.” But probably nothing sounded more soothing to her heartsick soul than “I’ll pick you up on Friday, can’t wait to see you!”There were party favors from college formals, programs from the MSU Block and Bridle Horse show and ribbons from when she won the 1952 Little International Showmanship Contest. While we’ve learned a lot in the last few weeks one of the best revelations is that our five-foot mom lived life large with courage she never knew she had, resiliency that kept her going and a curiosity that took her places she never knew existed.Melissa is a farmwife, mom and freelance writer residing on a dairy farm in southern Michigan. She is available for speaking engagements by contacting her at Visit her weblog at