Monday, June 16, 2008

God gave us memories that we might have roses in December. ~J.M. Barrie, Courage, 1922

This post is mostly for me. Sometimes I am afraid that I will forget things about my mom… even though right now it seems impossible that it would happen. The thing is, more than one person has told me to remember things often or the memories slip away. Like memories of my babies – who were babies not even all that long ago and I look back on pictures and have forgotten so many dear things about them.

There is the general bio stuff about my mom: born in 1926, third of five children… married my dad in 1949, Registered Nurse, mother to six children, grandmother to 10, great-grandmother to two.

Then there is the stuff I remember. Who she was to me…

When my mom went out with my dad on dates she wore Norell perfume. To this day if I smell this perfume in the store it takes me right back being a child, sitting on her bed and watching her get ready to go out.

My mom was a horrible decision maker, and as I write this I have a smile on my face. She never ordered a meal in a restaurant without finding out what everyone else was having first. “Decision making” for my mom consisted of finding out what others were doing, and doing the exact same thing. Music Lesson teachers, Orthodontists, etc. were chosen in this manner. She had always wanted the living room to be a green color but hemmed and hawed about the right color of green for so long that my dad finally went and bought some green paint. He picked a pastel shade of apple green, and the entire room (walls, ceiling, trim, door) was painted this color. She HATED it, and they went back to eggshell a couple of years later. The next time someone decided on a color that wasn’t eggshell for that room was when I finally picked a light gray/blue color for them to paint it in the early 90’s. It is still that same blue today.

My mom was funny. Some of my most fond memories of her are the two of us sitting up late at night at the kitchen table making each other laugh.

My mom loved gossip. (Hmmmm, guess I come by that naturally enough!) She loved to hear “the news”, juicy gossip, fun gossip, the good and the appalling – she loved it all.

My mom was an alcoholic for a good part of my childhood, and she went in to recovery when I was in high school. For a long time her alcoholism made her a very sick woman, and sometimes it was hard to love her.

My mom and I would stay up together in the family room to watch late night reruns of WKRP in Cincinnati and howl with laughter.

My mom hated her wrinkles. As a lifetime smoker (I don’t remember exactly it was when she stopped… I suppose some time in my late twenties? Early thirties?) she had that drooping skin that smokers develop which, coupled with her bout of polio in early adulthood that had taken some of her muscle tone along with it, resulted in her having deep wrinkles for as long as I can remember. I don’t remember my mother ever having an unlined face. I think she would have liked a face-lift, but being a child of the depression she would have never considered spending that kind of money on her own personal desires.

My mom loved Harry Potter, and awaited the newest releases with the joy of a child. I would make sure they were on pre-order for her so she could receive them the day they came out – because even if she was already in the middle of another book she liked having the newest Harry Potter waiting in the wings. One time we were out and bought some of the Bernie Botts Every Flavor Beans, and she tried every single different flavor. We marveled at “how does someone go about making the flavor of dirt?” “Who would the test group for that one be?” “2 year old boys?”

My mom wore a pink dress to our wedding. She looked beautiful that day.

My mom was a “slapper”. If you spoke back to her or made her mad? Her right hand slapped you across the face so fast it was a surprise. Every. Single. Time.

She could keep certain secrets. If you said, “Please… don’t tell dad,” she didn’t. You had to make it right with her and take your punishment – but she wouldn’t betray you.

Mom mispronounced potassium every time she said it. It drove me crazy.

She made sure you always had your favorite meal on your birthday. One year I picked LibbyLand TV Dinners. (I’m sure I chose either Pirate Picnic or Safari Supper) I think after I went to bed that night the rest of my family finished the entire heart shaped, cherry chip birthday cake because they were still so hungry – but she made them all go along with my 5 year old wishes that evening.

My mom drove a lot of station wagons. I vividly remember 4 of them… there might have been more.

My mom didn’t like breakfast cereal. I know that, because I don’t like it either and she always made sure that I had instant breakfast or toast for breakfast every day of my childhood.

She never gave anyone the whole story. She would give random pieces of it to different individuals, so if there was some event or someone you wanted to know about you had to piece it together by calling siblings and finding out what they knew. I found out, when she was in the hospital, that I might have been the only one who knew that she only had one working kidney. I’ve known for years, and I have no idea when or why she told me this information. Obviously no one had ever needed that piece of information to flesh out a greater story?

My mom kept m&m’s in a bowl in the dining room for my youngest daughter. DD2 discovered early in life that she LOVED chocolate – and her Ammie shared her passion.

Mom was good at ironing. She ironed a lot. I remember setting up my play iron (back in the good old days – when play irons actually plugged in and got warm) and ironing board in the living room with her. We’d watch “Dialing For Dollars” (which she was sure she would someday win) and she’d let me iron my father’s handkerchiefs. I think she ironed every single dress shirt my dad ever wore – and he wore one practically every day of his adult life until he retired.

I’m sure each and every one of my siblings would have different remembrances of mom, because she was someone very different to each one of us while still being exactly the same person to us all. I will keep this list for myself, and I will add to it when I remember something else… something I’d perhaps like to share with my girls when they are older. Like, “My mom had the facts of life talk with me when I was 9. NINE. I was way too young – and she was ready to get it over and done with. I think the entire talk took 10 minutes, and there was no q&a afterwards.” Or, we’d discuss Steve and Alice from Another World, and what was going on in their lives… and darn if that Rachael wasn’t making trouble again! I wasn't yet in kindergarten then – so she taught me about following “the stories” early in life.

I also will try to think about things she would say, especially when we all get together. My brother-in-law lost his father a year and a half ago and this is something they try to do so his dad is still remembered. I like this idea. Because it still seems so unreal that memories of her will dim. But they will.

I miss her, and I just don’t want to forget all the quirky things that were so “her”.

9 comments:

ganelle said...

What a fabulous tribute of both the lovely and awful moments. Good for you - to write it down. I need to follow your example...

Martha said...

Great post...LOVE the title...did you know that's what is carved on my mom's headstone? It was her all time favorite quote...

Great seeing you Saturday...

Deborah said...

I love what you're doing Dodi and I hope you share more memories about your mom with us. It seems unbelieveable but you're right that things do fade over time. I lost my mother 14 years ago and didn't have the gift of being as close to her as you obviously were to your mother, but reading your post I get a feeling for what that kind of relationship must be like. It's a good feeling.

Thanks for your lovely post.

Dodi said...

G, i suppose it wouldn't be truthful just to remember the good stuff... although the good stands out more than the bad when I think about her.

Martha, I didn't know that. I saw that quote and that is what led me to the rest of the post. Funny how we are connected sometimes.

Deborah, thank you for stopping by! My mom and I fought an awful lot - and really did drive each other crazy sometimes. But, a mother's love is very special, and my mom and I loved each other even during times we didn't "like" each other very much. Mom didn't with her kids. She LOVED her grandkids with a passion I had never seen before. When she died she took a lot of protective/loving energy with her, and the world feels different now.

Dodi said...

correction on the above: "Mom didn't with her kids" was supposed to say "Mom didn't hold a grudge with her kids." I think a lot faster than I type!

Sitting in Silence said...

What a beautiful post Dodi...

You are one amazing daughter and your Mum would be so proud of you...

Thanks for sharing such great memories with us...

xoxoxox

Vanessa said...

I loved this post. Your Mom sounds like an amazing woman.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful Dodi.

Carol

tz said...

wow, dodi, that was wonderful, thank you for sharing your mom with us...

i like that you put in memories that weren't pristine either...it's good to remember the WHOLE person.

again, thanks