Bad Ass Women Aren't Made Overnight!
A couple weeks ago, I stood over the ridge that my parents used as a landfill emptying the ash buckets my mother had set outside after cleaning the wood-burning furnace. It was cold, the air was crisp, and my breath was visible with each exhale. Straightening up, I looked down at the empty buckets and could not help but smile to myself as a tear formed and froze on my cheek.
With my father, Vince Herring, passing away in 2013, life has not been the same for my mother. Through the time The Granary opened in July 2017, much of my time was spent working in Rochester. What little time I did have that was not spent with kids or at activities, was spent helping my mom in whatever way I could. Sometimes this meant moving donkeys, watering chickens, stacking hay, maintaining the waterscapes or cutting wood in preparation for heating her house in the winter.
In late 2018, cancer consumed my life for about two years, so with being unhealthy, helping my mom was out of the question. Being finally healthy for these past few months, I have gotten back into the swing of things and helping in as many ways possible. Most Sundays are spent filling her woodbin, so she is able to heat her house during the lower temperatures of winter. The boys pitch in when able, and Sammy has learned to drive the machinery that brings wood up the driveway to be thrown down the chute.
When my dad died, I discovered my mom had been reliant on him in so many ways. Those two were truly teammates in every sense of the word. Side-by-side they owned and operated a successful business, raised three somewhat “normal” kids, and saved a little time for hobbies and friends.
It was through her tears that she re-learned how to open the gas tank and pump gas. With misty eyes, she was forced to figure out how a cell phone and an iPad functioned and could be of use to her in a positive way.
Learning the smaller tasks, such as those mentioned above, came with time. But the bigger things? How would she continue to heat the house with wood that my dad, brother and I spent countless hours every summer splitting, cutting and stacking? How would she load up her snow tires in the car to be put on or unload them into the shed once winter had disappeared?
If you have ever visited Herring Gardens, you know the work that needs to be put in to maintain and keep those gardens beautiful all summer long. After a couple of years, volunteers dissipate and the weight of all this work was back on her shoulders.
With a paid-employee or two under her supervision, most of the tasks that are so hard are able to be completed. While suffering from debilitating fibromyalgia, the majority of the work gets done. By her and her alone.
Back to why I was smiling with tears in my eyes as I emptied the ash buckets feeling nothing but pride in my mother. Through the tears, grief, anger and gamut of emotions one transitions through when losing a loved one, she has become an independent woman who can do all things dad did.
For those who suddenly are on their own, you can do it. I smiled because my mom has become a true “bad ass” in all the work she has put in and done since the death of my father. And those of you working through it now, you will hit your moment of bad-assery and smile ear-to-ear too!