Isn’t she beautiful, the young mother holding up her unsteady little toddler? That’s my mother, and I sure wish I’d told her more often how much I loved her, how gorgeous she was, and how much she profoundly influenced my life and the lives of my siblings and children. In fact, she’s now affecting the lives of my grandchildren because of the love and wisdom she gave their grandmother, mother, aunts, and uncles.
My sister and I had lunch together today, and I told her that I felt guilty about not posting something about this great lady, and Ann asked, “Where would you start?” Good question, Sis. For starters, I’m going to jot down some memories and thoughts:
• The time when she came to a Girl Scout meeting wearing a hat because I told her that we were having a fancy tea party and inviting our mothers. She looked so drop-dead gorgeous in her hat with flowers, and I was so proud of being with her that I didn’t notice that no other moms were wearing hats…or if I did, I probably felt sorry for their daughters. How embarrassing for your mother not to dress like a queen! Little did I know at the time that she was mortified to be attired in such a formal manner.
• The nights when she rubbed Vick’s vapor rub on our chests before we went to sleep whenever we had chest colds. It always felt so warm and smelled…let’s say unique.
• The meals that she cooked day after day, year after year for our family. We had breakfast around 6:30 a.m. and supper 12 hours later. I can visualize each of the six of us around the table as we began and ended our days by breaking bread together. No matter how I try, I still haven’t been able to replicate the taste and texture of her cornbread recipe. Oh, and one of the things Ann and often talk about is the yummy desserts she would prepare for Sunday dinner, one being a concoction of graham crackers with a sweet filling that formed sort of a rectangular log…or cake.
• Her voice and the way she expressed herself. She could sing too…and well! Always a member of the choir at FBC, she also sang to us. I think Ann might have inherited some of that gift but not I.
• Her flair for arranging flowers…and for beautifying her surroundings. The summer before she died, she decided to devote one Saturday morning to teaching me how to do it. I’m afraid I was a mediocre student at best.
• Her aptitude for sewing. Just today Ann and I briefly discussed some outfits she made for us to wear one Easter while we were young college students. Speaking of college students, she faithfully wrote each of us at least once a week and usually slipped a couple of dollars in the note. Sometimes there’d also be a clipping from the newspaper. When my brother David was in Germany, she used to save the local newspaper for weeks and then send him a bundle.
• Her love for books of all types. One week I’d find her reading about the American Indians with whom she felt such an affinity, and the next week she might be reading a murder mystery, a Studs Terkel tome, something funny by Erma Bombeck, or an inspirational book. When her life got a little less stressful (that is, after we all grew up and left home), you’d always find her in the kitchen reading the Bible before beginning her day.
• Her love for each of us. She was the kind of mother who somehow managed to make each of us feel that we were her favorite child. I know that David the Prince thinks he was the fav, but I know better. TeeHee.
Did I mention that she did all of the above and much, much more while working all day? A secretary, her longest running positions were with Liberty Life Insurance and later with City Hall. She was an asset to her employers, and I know that all who came within her sphere were touched by her generous spirit and friendly nature. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone who knew her…anyone.
I was in New York City on Mother’s day, and it both thrilled me and saddened me to see mothers being accompanied by their children and grandchildren around Liberty and Ellis Islands. Happy because I had a wonderful mother and because I am the mother of three outstanding children. Saddened because I missed them all on this one day of the year when mothers are honored.