My mother wore many hats both literally and figuratively. Most of her head coverings were prayer veilings worn every day. As a young woman, her coverings were large, decreasing in size as she got older and church rules had progressively relaxed.
Mother wore a sunbonnet in the tomato patch in Bainbridge, PA. As far as I could tell, Mennonite women in the 1940s and 1950s, paid no attention to Coppertone ads. (Remember billboards with that sneaky cocker spaniel pulling on a little girl’s swimsuit bottom, exposing her pale cheeks?) No one that I knew then wore sun tan lotion regularly, except maybe to the shore at Atlantic City or Ocean City. Country women, including my mother, wore bonnets in the garden and fields to protect their skin.
The details are fuzzy here because this photo is another movie “still” captured from Aunt Ruthie’s 16 mm camera (circa 1955).
I look at this image of Mother’s sunbonnet worn in the tomato patch with two lenses, viewing the blurry film now and remembering the scene vividly then as an eyewitness:
I’m looking at a film clip of Mother in rows of the tomato patch just now, humped-over body bending toward a flush tomato bush facing the camera, her blue and white speckled sunbonnet sewn with three tiers of matching ruffles, a row along the bill, a row at the crease, another row near the crown of the hat—come to think of it now, headgear much fancier than her everyday prayer cap.
Figuratively too, she wore many hats:
Dresser of chickens
Sewing circle seamstress
Volunteer – MCC Gift and Thrift
Volunteer – Choice Books in Salunga, PA
Mother particularly enjoyed her last volunteer job, stamping the Choice Books logo onto inspirational books for display on kiosks in stores around the country. During her “morning away,” she got to see her niece Dotty Metzler Martin often, met her friend Bertha, and ate lunch with other friends. She always sounded thrilled to describe this excursion when we talked on the phone Saturday mornings.
Even in her early nineties, she got excited about this bright spot in her life. I thought about her experience and examined my own passions when I read this verse from Psalm 39:3
My heart grew hot within me . . . and as I meditated, the fire burned. (NIV)
If someone asked Mother, “What lights your fire?” She would probably answer, “Serving others,” a motto she lived by.
The 16 x 22 inch poster created for her 90th birthday party and later, displayed on an easel at her memorial service, shows flash points of service, including her stint at Choice Books.
How would you answer these burning questions?
- What lights your fire?
- What burns “hot” within you?
“When God gives you an 11-by-17 mindset, you’ll never be happy living in a 3-by-5 mental framework.” Daily Devotional: The Word for You Today, April 10, 2016
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Coming next: All Creatures Great & Small: The Power of Pets