I’ve been asked many times why I decided to become a raw vegan. It certainly wasn’t something I did lightly or on a whim. The fact that it took 61 years of living on Planet Earth to even begin transitioning should tell you something. I’ve written about my life in bits and pieces throughout my blog and on the forum but I’ll try to at least get a start on it here tonight. There is one thing I want understood at the very beginning. I do not blame my mother for any of my health issues. She had a hard time coping after the death of my father and did the best she could with what she had available. Plus, if she was at fault at all, it was because of her over-indulgence. She wanted me to be happy. (The people in the picture are my dear sister and me.)
I was born at a very young age 🙂 to a 39 year old woman and her 50 year old husband. She’d had four daughters before I came onto the scene but I was his first. He was a doting husband and an equally doting father so when she decided I would be the first in the family to never eat meat, he didn’t protest. It turned out that was to my advantage later on.
Even though I was raised a vegetarian, I wasn’t brought up on a thoroughly health-oriented diet. There was lots of junk food, fried food, sweets and condiments on the table. After my father died a premature death after surgery at age 55, the variety decreased but the healthiness of it didn’t increase.
My mother believed that every young lady should learn to cook. When my sisters were growing up, they would take turns in the kitchen. I was young enough that I missed out on that (my oldest sister was married when I was still being carried around by my father). No matter. I was at the stove stirring the gravy when I was three and made a cobbler my mother bragged on about the same time. I found it hard to believe when she told me that later on but she swore it was true.
I showed a real talent for all things kitcheny. It wasn’t long before I was fixing my own breakfast and my favorite was fried potatoes & onions and a fried egg or two liberally seasoned with garlic salt. That might or might not be accompanied by a slice of fried bread. You can tell I loved fried. I remember one of my sisters giving me a page from a magazine saying that we shouldn’t eat fried foods. She was barking up the wrong tree. I snorted and gave it back.
Mother taught me to use her knives and I was standing on a stool at the kitchen sink before I was in the double digits cutting corn off the cob to be canned. She patiently showed me how to “tip” the kernels and then scrape out the cream. I got every drop and would suck on the cobs. Raw food! Several times every summer we’d have fried corn along with fried green tomatoes, pinto beans and corn bread. Usually, a healthy meal was one with a single fried dish but summer was different. I’ll have to give Mother the nod that she usually had a big platter of sliced ripe tomatoes, cucumbers, and green peppers. They took up a very small section on my plate, though.
We didn’t have a freezer except at the top of the Frigidaire and it wasn’t very big. We canned. We canned from the first crop coming in until the last bit that Mother Nature would have in her store. Our cousin had a truck farm and he’d leave baskets of produce on his neighbors’ doorsteps on the way back from market. Whatever he didn’t sell, he shared. He sold cull tomatoes (nicer than the first quality ones I buy now) for 50¢ a bushel. We canned tomatoes, juice, soup, and one summer Mother made a chili sauce that was to die for. I never could find the recipe. Probably a good thing. Yet something else to give up.
The first cake I made by myself was when I was nine. I won a blue ribbon for my canned peaches at the community fair when I was in the 7th grade. And I didn’t have Mother’s help with them no matter what the other entrants said.
I should have been healthy with all the good food around but I was a puny kid because I was allowed to eat anything I wanted. The only stipulation was that it had to be vegetarian. And that was my choice. My mother later said she was surprised I never ate meat. I did try to once. The neighbors talked me into it. They had fried chicken. I picked up a leg and attempted to bite it. It was cold, greasy, and tough. I remember it was kind of bluish at one end, too. It wouldn’t give ‘way to my teeth so I put it down and was never tempted again.
My illness history (besides being a croupy baby) began at age three with chicken pox. I still have a scar on my leg. I had whooping cough. I’d commence the winter with a cold and have it until spring with sore throats, coughing, snotty nose, the whole nine yards. When I was seven, I had my tonsils and adenoids out. The doctor didn’t completely remove the right tonsil and it grew back. So much the better for me. I tend to believe the Lord didn’t put unnecessary parts in my body.
Let’s move on to the teenage years. The second semester of my freshman year in high school was spent in bed with scarlet fever and a light case of rheumatic fever. My mother was a widow and her only dependable income was a widow’s pension from my father’s World War I service and $40 a month she made teaching school. I don’t know how she managed. My joints were so painful I couldn’t stand more than a sheet covering me. She heated the bedroom with a little electric heater, the kind that sends the meter into orbit. I drank quantities of the home-canned tomato juice heated up with lemon juice. It was the only thing that would slide down my painfully sore throat. The doctor made house calls then and he was a frequent visitor. Even my 8th grade teacher and principal came to see me. I was one sick puppy. It took months for me to recover and get back to normal (whatever that was).
My teeth suffered through all this, too. I fell down and knocked out the two front ones on a tree root when I was six. When the permanent ones came in, I fell and broke one. Two weeks later, I fell and broke it some more and broke the other one. That resulted in my having to visit the dentist often to “have the nerve removed” was the way it was explained to me. He drilled a hole in the back of the tooth and would pack it with wax between visits. When I’d go in, he’d pull it out and the awfullest stench would ascend up my nose. He’d clean my tooth then repack it with wax. That was my favorite part of the whole thing. I loved smelling the melted wax. I ended up, finally, with a dark gray, almost black tooth that was broken into a point. It made me self-conscious but I tried not to let it bother me.
Hours upon hours were dental-related. My teeth were not sound at all. I had multiple fillings before I was 10 and it stretched on, seemingly forever.
Though I seemed to get anything and everything that came along, I never had any of the “measles” strains. I did have a kidney infection that took me out of school for several weeks in my junior year. Later on, I collapsed from exhaustion and had to get rid of some of my extra-curricular activities. Now and then, there were minor fainting spells. At least they were treated that way.
The really exciting times came when I had my own children but that’s another post.
To be continued…