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Sweeter Than Elderberry Wine
Zona’s New Mother-In-Law Advised Her


Not long after her birthday on the 8th of January Zona was surely introduced to the hard life in Oklahoma.

“Zony Girl! I’m tellin’ you one thing. Around here it’s not how smart you are, or how purty, or anything else. The only thing that works is how well you set your mind to a thing. If you do that you’ll get done what you have to do.” Zona’s new mother-in-law advised her.

Zona was studying her new mother-in-law and wondered if she could understand this frail looking woman.. Her hands were rough and gnarled from hard work. She wore a long white apron that covered her from waist down, almost to the bottom of her dress. The skirt of this garment was far from fashionable and fell all the way to her ankles and onto the floor. The fabric was of broad stripes that ran up and down. It looked like she had run out of material and then sewed a twelve-inch border of the stripes in a diagonal pattern around the bottom edge. The woman’s stooped shoulders were covered with a shawl of a plaid pattern. Her dark hair was parted in the middle and pulled severely away from her face. It was slicked back tightly into a small, bun. There was a look of neurotic anxiety on her face. Her daughter-in-law would find out why this was so a little later on.

Zona was busy with some of her sewing and hand work. Her nimble fingers worked rapidly with the delicate, soft, sheer fabric. She was so skilled with the needle there was an unbelievable amount of work turned out. As an adept seamstress Zona folded and turned the fabric so that there was a circle of sharply pointed little scallops creating a trim to go around an arm, neck or hem. Tiny button hole stitches around eyelet holes in the soft white fabric added to the decoration. All up the dress were folds and tucks.

“That is a-goin’ to be ah beautiful dress,” the mother-in-law noted.Mary spoke to her new daughter-in-law in her soft, southern drawl. She was like the women of the south who put their family's lives and welfare parimont even before their own. Songs and poetry would be written about them to say things like, "she would have died for her sons," and it was true, These were the traits that brought them through the heaviest days of war on their own ground during the Civil War. Her daughter-in-law already had learned these values and she was at one in unity with her mother-in-law. For as far back as the days could be counted these deep set values were being inculcated into her mind and she knew nothing of why or how it was being done. The son’s mother, Zona’s mother-in-law, was subtle in teaching her daughter-in-law the avenue to give the young woman an understanding of her husband’s background. The history of his family and their struggle was the handle to allow the girl a way to communicate with him.

Zona often answered a person in no words but with only a gesture or a smile. Today she quietly smiled while her fingers flew over her work. Her meek ways were brought to her by the heavy discipline of her own mother through the arts of their crafts. This discipline allowed her the self-control to quietly listen as the older woman now easily wove one tale after another about this or that event that had happened in their family. Zona was mentally absorbing history that could have gone into the recesses of time beyond a point too far back to number in years. The story-telling was lovingly sharing with light-hearted events and it made the lessons easily learned.


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