Mama was a strong woman who could toss a full crate of chickens onto a truck bed. We boys took either end and lifted the crates on.
Mama could swipe a fly or mosquito on the wing, and then say, “nisht af mayne kinder” (not on my children).
Mama had a beautiful head of long brown hair that she always kept bundled under her red kerchief. She had several red kerchiefs. My favorite kerchief was one that had white polka dots.
Mama hated the cold, but went outside in winter without gloves, and always wore her red kerchief and a button-down sweater. Her hands were rough, calloused, and cracked. She put cold cream on them every night.
Mama’s legs were heavy and her veins stuck out. They were muscular like Papa’s legs. It came from much walking and carrying heavy goods when she walked out to the farms to trade with the farmwomen, while still living in Europe.
She talked Polish to our Polish hired hand. He spoke only Polish to her.
She spoke Russian to the farmer’s wife whose farm was on the other side of the creek. The “Russian Lady” came over to talk to Mama whenever her husband beat her or their daughters. Mama always calmed her down and she kissed Mama when she left.Mama was a proud peasant woman. She raised her voice only when Papa was wrong.