There are advantages to being born last. With brother and sisters grown and gone, I grew up like an only child. Having a child all to herself in her middle-age years, Mother wasn’t lonely.
Violet Agnes Iverson was born a twin on June 4, 1909. She lost her twin sister, Nora, to a bout of pneumonia combined with the flu in 1926 when she was only 17 years old. Two years later, Violet met the love of her life and married Esten Woodland, twelve years her senior, on October 29, 1929. It was the day the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began. They lived through tough and meager years, lost the first child to an early death, birthed three more children, and decided their family was done. Thirteen years after their youngest was born, a surprise came their way — me.
What I Learned Growing Up Last
Mama loved to play school with me and let me ‘teach’ her. It grew my love for learning and teaching. She taught me many things without saying much, but doing and living her life before me.
We had company often, and although the house may not have been spic-and-span and the meals sparse, it taught me hospitality. My mother loved to socialize visiting her neighbors regularly, and enjoying her friends at their weekly coffee party. Tagging along behind wherever she went, I was allowed to have coffee with the ladies (except that mine was mostly milk with coffee flavoring). I loved lattes before they were popular! It taught me the importance of friends and neighborliness. She shared tea parties in my play house and taught me how to serve.
I learned the art of industriousness when she taught me to sew my own Barbie doll clothes, and later on my own. I watched her love of gardening and observed the canning process as jars upon jars of produce provided food for the winter. It compelled me to do the same (without splattering tomatoes all over the kitchen ceiling – that’s another story).
Most of all, Mom taught and demonstrated how to have faith in God. With a living unstoppable faith of her own, Mother taught Sunday School faithfully, took her turn cleaning the church, served at church meals, and was an active member of the church women’s group. She fed the bums that knocked on our door and took food to the hungry.
She taught me to pray at a young age and stood on the power of God through prayer. She experienced it first-hand. She had been healed at age ten from a debilitating condition. Without warning young Violet, would jerk uncontrollably. Her legs not allowing her to stand, she’d fall to the floor. Her speech became garbled, and her arms flopped like a rag doll. Having no control, her face contorted into terrible grimaces. She stumbled easily and consistently dropped things. Some said she had the ‘dropsy’ – her family called it “St. Vitus Dance.” After fervent prayer at an early ” brush arbor meeting,” she was healed. (Read about it here). There was nothing in her mind that prayer couldn’t fix, and she taught me how to believe in faith. When I was six, my ring finger was slammed accidentally in a steel door and severed. It was sewed back on, but my parents were told I would never have feeling nor a fingernail, and maybe not much mobility. Mother prayed. She refused that outcome; her daughter was going to play the piano like she.
My mother began teaching me to play the piano at age five. Later in her 50s, she developed arthritis in her hands and found herself unable to play as the church pianist. She called on me to take her place; I was only twelve years old. She taught me the love of music and how to serve my Lord by letting Him ‘play through my fingers’ — with a fully-healed finger and no loss of mobility. She taught me the power of prayer and the power of God.
My mother was taken from me too quickly. I was born as a surprise in her 40s, but she only was in my life until I turned nineteen. She managed to live until my wedding in 1970 and then left for heaven three months later. That’s the disadvantages of being born last. Growing up in a household where your parents are old enough to be your grandparents, you don’t have much time with them.
I’m not sure I really knew her, but there are many things I did learn from her in that short time. I am thankful for this godly heritage and trust it will be passed on to my family. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.