Today is Mother’s Day in the U.S., Canada, Australia and New Zealand. My mother has been gone for 11 years, but I still think of her often. Usually it is a good or bad memory that is called to mind by something going on in my life. On this day, though, I think of her as a person and of how much I miss her.
I don’t intend to tell her life story in this post. And I don’t really care if anyone reads this. I just want to write down a few things about her to document that on this special day she is remembered with love.
- I remember two things that my mother would say in jest that when I was only three or four I was unable to appreciate as such. One confused me greatly. The other frightened me. It would happen at times when the six of us children were underfoot and constantly bugging her: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?” – “Mommy, Raymie won’t let me color in his coloring book.” – “Mommy, Dickie’s jumping on the sofa.” – that kind of stuff. Sometimes, in exasperation, she would say: “I’m going to change my name!” Now, that really confused me! She was Mommy. How could she have any other name? How could I call her something else? I can remember my confusion vividly even today. Other times, she would look up to the ceiling and say: “And they wonder why mothers leave home!” Now, that really terrified me. I can remember wondering all sorts of things like who would cook our dinner, and who would wash the dishes, and who would hug and kiss us! . Life without mommy was unthinkable! I’m sure if she had had any idea what my reaction was she would never have said such a thing.
- My mother would not tolerate cussing. Saying “Hell” or “Damn” were sins almost equal to mass murder or arson. I don’t even want to contemplate what would happen if one of us dropped the “F” word! This was no big problem for us when we were very young. After all, we didn’t hear such words at home. But, when you get to the 5th or 6th grade cussing becomes mandatory, especially for boys. There was a constant fear that you would slip up at home. That lasted right through high school. I’m afraid that there were a few lapses on my part. My mother never disciplined us physically, but her tongue, without cussing, would make a Marine Drill Sergeant proud. She could verbally tear one to shreds. I can remember thinking I would rather she hit me on the head with a tw0-by-four and kick me down the stairs. I have been known in my adult life to use an expletive occasionally, but always I get that guilty “Oops” feeling.
- I never came home from school to an empty house. My mother was always there to greet me, all the way through college. My father would come home from work around 4:30, and dinner was on the table at 5:00. Every weekday – no exception. And if you were home you had better be at the table promptly. For me, dinner was always one of the highlights of the day. We actually talked to each other like in the family television dramas of the 1950’s. Our parents really were interested in what was happening in our lives. Sunday morning breakfasts were also special. My father worked six days a week and that was the only day we ate breakfast together. My mother would make pancakes, my favorite. She used a cast iron skillet. There must be something special about cast iron, because I’ve never tasted pancakes that could equal hers.
- My mother was of the last generation that communicated by written letter, and she wrote beautifully. I always thought she would have been a fine professional writer. She was probably the last housewife in America that grocery shopped on a daily basis. I think she did it more as a means of socializing than out of necessity. She would go to the supermarket and have lively conversations with the produce manager, the butcher, the bakery clerks and the checkout women. When we finally moved to the suburbs and no supermarket was within walking distance, it was a difficult adjustment for her.
I miss you, Mom.