Ma became my hero the day she slapped a bear on the rear—or rather the day I read about it some 140 years later.
It wasn’t slapping the bear that impressed me. After all, I probably would have done the same thing had I mistaken the bear for our cow like she did in the dark. But it’s what she did later that night that impressed me the most. Pa was late coming back from town. He did not have his gun. And she knew there was a bear in the woods. But there was no hysteria, no fretting, no wringing of hands. She put her young girls to bed, told them everything would be all right, and sat calmly by the door to wait for Pa.
Sitting would have been the hardest thing for me to do. I would have had to at least pace if not melt into a sobbing convulsion, fearing the worst. But Ma sat.
From that moment on, I studied the Little House books for clues as to what gave Ma such strength. It wasn’t until I discovered the Caroline Years, a series about her childhood based on letters she had written to Laura, that I began to understand where her strength came from.
As a child, Caroline had lost her own father, but her mother wasn’t one to throw her hands up. Even as this woman moved her six children into a cabin so far in the middle of nowhere that the nearest town was nothing but a crossroads near a large house, she faced every challenge with a positive attitude.
From this, I imagine Ma learned that bad things are bound to happen in life, but with perseverance, we can get through the bad times and move on to the good times ahead. And so as she waited for Pa in the dark, she knew that everything would be all right. And though Pa did come home safely, I imagine that even if he hadn’t, she would have been right—eventually.
For bad things will happen in life, but these things don’t have to make our lives bad.