Women reared in the agricultural south during the Depression/World War Two years didn’t have the range of choices available today. For many, if not most, life offered a long diet of hopeless poverty and backbreaking work, seasoned with the bearing of children. Most decisions were made for them, either by their husbands or by life’s endless necessities.
One of the choices they could make was that of a husband with whom to share life. Some chose wisely. Some chose poorly.
Some chose for the excitement of life with a rebel and were left in the dust. Some chose for money and found that it bought everything but love and respect.
Some chose for security and saw things work for the best. My own mother told me once, when I was heartbroken over some long forgotten love, a remarkable story. She said, “When I decided to marry your daddy, I didn’t think of love one bit. But I had gone hungry when I was young and wore undergarments made from discarded church curtains. He was from a hard-working German family that always had food to eat—even during the worst of the Depression—and I knew that I would too if I married him. I knew that those hands were used to hard work. I had other choices but I picked him.”
Then came the remarkable part. She said, “We married, sharecropped together, managed to buy a little grocery store, and made it work although one woman said we were ‘so dumb that it took both of us to drink a Coca-Cola.’ Then one day I woke up, looked at your daddy, and realized that I worshipped the ground he walked on.”
And she did, for more than 40 years before suffering a too-early early death from cancer.
Some women chose strangely but saw things work out, sort of. I heard of one who met her husband-to-be in a clinic where she worked. He had come there to “dry out.” Oddly, it lasted.
Nowadays, couples can find one another on dating sights on the internet. A man can simply digitize himself into an honest, hardworking, and sensitive person. A woman can be anyone she chooses as well. There are some truly horrific stories about the outcomes of those matches. Still, people keep making their life’s choices in the cyber-world.
Somehow I don’t think it works as well as checking in person for the calloused hands with dirt beneath the nails. I think my mother would agree.