The Norman Transcript

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March 17, 2013

The three principles of life taught by Alta Fern

NORMAN — I’ve heard my entire life that as we age we turn into either our mothers if we are women or our fathers if we are male. I think I might have skipped something along the way because I’m pretty sure I’m turning into my grandmother.

I’ve written several times about Alta Fern. She was a strong willed, crusty on the edges woman who could turn any unruly child into a saint with just one look. She never said it, but when she got in the kitchen and made her famous chicken and noodles or one of her pies, I knew it was her way of saying she loved her family.

I’ve tried to make chicken and noodles and pies and have failed miserably each time. I can’t quilt or crochet to save my life either. That seems to have skipped a couple of generations. I know too that Grandma rolls over in her grave every time I attempt to “sew” something. I’ll be sitting at the sewing machine and I can feel her eyes bearing down on me. I can almost feel her frustration knowing that the poor excuse of a seam I just made wouldn’t live up to her standards.

But, as I get older, I realize I might not be a Juila Child in the kitchen or a Gloria Vanderbilt when it comes to clothing design, but I’m an Alta Fern with it comes to three principles of my life.

Principle 1: Never leave the house without your looking your best. Grandmother didn’t wear make-up that I recall. She didn’t make a lot of fuss about her hair. There was the occasional perm and maybe a trip to the salon on occasion. But she never left the house, not even to get the mail, without looking her best. Her clothes were pressed. Her hair was perfect and her stockings never saggy.

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