Our family was traditional in many ways.  Dad made the money and made all of the big and final decisions concerning finances etc.  My mom filled in all the details that dad left undone. She provided most of the day to day guidance and care.

As much as a patriarchal and controlling situation this may sound, and in many ways was, my mother might have exerted the greatest amount of true influence on the human condition that was our family.  My mother, Frances Eckert Frei, formed a matrix of matriarchal bonds that defined so much of our day to day lives.  It is amazing how much we have in common with our Bonobo cousins.  Their troops are largely run by networks of female alliances, companionship and politics.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, we also have a lot common with our Chimpanzee cousins were dominant males rule by violence.

My mother, in her years after emigrating from rural Richmond Virginia, had a close group of female companions called “the sewing club”.  They would get together regularly and mend and knit their respective families clothes.  I, being the youngest, was sometimes brought along to these meetings just so she could keep an eye on me.  In my privilege of seeing the behind the scenes official activities, I don’t remember very much sewing being done. It was a raucous gaggle of girls talking and sharing stories of every kind of thing that could be imagined.  The men used to say that the women would keep a sock in the glove compartment just in case there was an emergency meeting.

One of the many areas where my mother left a big mark was that she was the one who chose the friendships.  Outside of superficial business relationships, my father’s friends were mostly the husbands of my mother’s friends.  The various families would do get togethers and camping trips, of which many a good story can be had.

It might be a generational thing.  I don’t see this nearly as much between my friends and people younger than me.  It might also be that people in the past were expected to pair, marry and have kids at the appointed time early in life.  They filled the rolls that were expected of them and that they knew.  The men had not been given the time to develop their adult bonds before buckling down into their roles.  The women, with more incentive to participate in group child raising, and more Bonobo needs to do just that, made the effort to connect.  My mother and I used to play a card game called “Old Maid”.  The last thing that you wanted to be was the old maid.