My mother, an illiterate, rural women, valuable and clean, was the wife of a respected and admired by all except her husband, my father. Only when I was old enough to understand many things, I learned a lot about her and my father.
I never could see that the father showed little attention to my mother, that he hugged her and sent a kind word. As a child, I would never pay any attention to that. I thought it should be – and the father is ”head” of family and everyone must listen to him. He was asked for all.
Although she was the step-mother because she married a man who already had six children from his first marriage, whose mother died, she was not stepmother that is described in fairy tales. She was a woman who knew how to give love and attention to their step-children, she was taking care of them, and later to their children, whom she kept while their parents were at work.
They told me that they were so many times ”saved” from their father, because she would take the blame when something wrong they do, just to prevent her husband, their father, to beat them up. Sometimes my father would send away his children because he would be angry of them and their stepmother, my mother, secretly, that the father does not know, would take them some food and clothes.
While our father was alive, my mother was worried mostly about home and children – that house is clean and children are tidy, that their clothes are washed, ironed, botched, that the meals are on time and that guests are well served. Guests at our house were always welcome, greeted with a smile and well served.
The mother was freed from buying any kind, whether it’s about paying utility bills, purchase of supplies for the house, winter things, warming up, whether it was for the purchase of clothing and shoes, and everything necessary for the school.
After the death of my father, the great burden ”fallen” on her back. There was so much in what she was not addressed, and she had to. She had to immediately, without delay, to learn how to cope with the life, which also before that, was hard, without fine moments to her. Now she had to do it the best she can. I completed only the third grade of elementary school, and I was not much help to my mother. My sister was five years older and was helping in her own way, according to her age, and my brother who was three years older than me, was more of a hindrance than a help to a mother.
I remember that mother constantly yelled at him, refused at the time to write the homework, to learn, what was at least initially, his only obligation. Although unlettered, inexperienced in matters for which the father was in charge, my mother was able to alone, without any outside help raised us – three children, all of us had completed school, got jobs and established own families.
They told me once that my mother immediately after the burial of my father, asked the step-children to declare what belonged to her and her children, she asked for permission to, if it is possible, to get only one room, but to know that room is her and of her children, in order not to find herself and children on the street. As unlettered, she knew nothing about family law and her rights as a woman whom legally belong to a particular piece of property behind the deceased.
It was the fear, uncertainty, but she also knew that behind her husband remained her children and the children of her husband, which certainly had the right to his property. That night, when the three of us and our mother were present in a family house and all my step-brothers and step-sisters with their families, the eldest of them said:
”Aunt (as they called her, the step-children, and their children too), don’t worry, nobody will touch you, as long as you live.”
My mother then began to cry and said through tears:
”Thank you, my children!”
Yes, she did not watch them otherwise already as her children. Because of this she was extremely grateful to them. She felt an obligation and used every opportunity to repay them somehow, in her own way. Among other things, she knew what each of them loves to eat so she would make it when she was expecting their visit.
They respected and appreciated her.
At the beginning, immediately after the death of our father, they came every Saturday to lunch, then on every Bajram, and as time passed by, visits were less frequent with the exception of those whose children my mother kept, so they would come to us every weekend.
It remained only Bajram when we were all together, except the youngest step-brother, who after completing his studies in Slovenia married a Slovene woman and there still lives. Sometimes he would come on summer, during the vacation.
The fact, visitations of my step-brothers and step-sisters with their families, were less frequently, but they held promise. Their step-mother with her children nobody touched till she died and not even later.