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Saturday, March 17, 2012

How'm I Doing, Mom?

2am - boy with asthma coughing and coughing and coughing downstairs; little girl with a new bump on her head and a fat lip--from falling last night--grateful her teeth didn't go through her lip--crying and crying. Two reasons to be awake, but why won't the sleep return?

Now - the coughing and crying have stopped, but this feeling nags at my heart. I can't sleep. Why am I feeling so awful?

I scan my mind for reasons. I can find a few. Oh yes, I can ALWAYS find a few (I keep a good amount of good ol' mother's guilt stored up for occasions such as these)--Are we making the right decisions for our kids? Am I spending enough quality time with them? Is their homework done?

I turn over and then it occurs to me. Today, March 17th was the day. The day my mom died. (While everyone else is wearing green, I have to admit, I'm much more blue).

That so totally explains the feeling. Once I make that realization, it subsides.

I've told you about her before. Lots and lots of times. But I have to be honest, I don't write about her for anybody but my kids. I'm sad they don't know her, and I'm sad she doesn't know them.

This morning, I want to paint a picture for my kids...

*My mom colored her hair. She told me that, when someone asked her hair color, she was just going to tell them "Nice and Easy [and the number of the shade she used, which I can't remember, but it was an auburn color]."

*She wore curlers....Sometimes even to the grocery store.

*At the grocery store, when I was little and there was an Albertson's on the corner of Cedar Hills Blvd. and Walker Rd. (where Office Depot now stands), they would, just as you entered the store and walked to the right, sell ice cream--like scooped and in a cone (AWESOME! Why don't they do that now? I'd find excuses to go grocery shopping if they did). Mom would stop and buy us a cone as we entered. One time, we just stopped at the store and bought a cone and then left the store to go home. As we left, the ice cream fell off my cone onto the sidewalk. She didn't even blink an eye but went back in and got me some more ice cream. I loved her for that.

*My mom had a cute laugh. Kind of a giggle. She also had a high voice--not super high, but the just-right-for-a-cute-mom voice.

*She had root beer colored eyes with a continual sparkle to them. She had smile lines; you know, the upward turning, ever-smiling wrinkles--the sign of a good and mostly happy life.

*My mom sang soprano when I heard her sing hymns sitting next to her at church, but to be honest, she should have been an alto. Some of those notes were just a bit too high for her.

*My mom was the perfect hugging height for me. She was 5'2" to my 5'4".

*She had little feet (size 6 1/2) and little hands but always long nails.

*She was low-maintenance. She was easy, breezy and oh, so easy to love.

*My mom loved people. I don't think there was anybody she didn't like, or at least she never talked about it. If she ever got mad at you, you'd never know it. She didn't say anything or fight back. She just smiled and wore red (that's what my dad told me that he learned about her when he was working with her. If someone ticked her off, the next day if she knew she was going to see that person, she'd wear red). I guess that was her don't-mess-with-me color.

*My mom learned how to drive when she was 40 and had four kids. How'd she get around before that?

*My mom LOVED my dad--deeply and enduringly. There was no doubt.

*She wasn't much of a home decorator. That kind of stuff just wasn't important to her. How things appeared just weren't her thing. She was a heart person, not a face person.

*My mom loved her family. She would do anything and everything for us. She loved not just us who were before her eyes everyday, but she loved EVERYONE in her family. She searched back generations to know her family and have them be part of her life.

*She didn't like balancing the checkbook. She often said it gave her that "deer in the headlights" kind of feeling.

*My mom was a fast typist. When I took typing in high school, people would ask me how I could type as fast as I could, I was pretty sure it was because I'd been hearing the click, click of her typewriter since I was en utero.

*I remember someone bringing a 9"x13" pan of something to our family. Before the dish could be returned, it got broken somehow, so my mom bought a new one and filled it with something yummy for the family. She didn't know the woman who the pan belonged to very well, but because the pan didn't belong to the woman, she thought it was my mom's so she returned it to my mom filled with something yummy. This went back and forth and back and forth for months, much to us kids' delight. This built a friendship between my mom and this woman.

*My mom was the kind that everybody loved, but she had a few very close friends--Delores, LaReen, Marty, Deonne....

*My mom liked maple bars.

*In the morning, she would have toast with crunchy peanut butter and boysenberry jam and a cup of hot chocolate.

*Steak and liver and onions were foods only for grown ups. Kids got mac and cheese or frozen pizza on those nights.

*Sunday always had a special meal--fried chicken and mashed potatoes and the most amazing gravy EVER, roast beef and carrots and potatoes, ham, or roast pork.

*Sunday evenings she would prepare popcorn and orange juice and we'd sit down and watch The Wonderful World of Disney after that dumb Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom would get over with. What was that all about anyway, and who cared? At least that's what I thought when I was a child.

*My mom stayed home with us kids until we were all in school then she took a job with Pakula--a jewelry company. She traveled around and took care of the jewelry inventory for stores in the Portland metropolitan area--Troutdale, Gresham, Beaverton, Tualatin....She chose where she went and when and was always back before we got home from school.

*My mom served in the Primary at church for years and years. She was the perfect "kid kind of person" with her sparkly eyes and endless smile. She also served as Relief Society president, counselor and secretery. She was secretery over and over again. She was very good at it. She would sit in sacrament meeting with a piece of paper and a pen in hand and would jot down who was there. Not in a stalker-ish way, but in a "hey, I really care about these people" kind of way.

*She spent hours finding just the right sticker or picture to go on the ward Relief Society newsletter--"The Nutshell." I believe she may even be the one who came up with the name. She'd type it up on her typewriter and leave gaps where she wanted a "graphic" to go. She learned that if she used Scotch tape around the edges, the edges wouldn't show when she would photocopy it. She wanted it to be flawless.

*At least once a week, my mom'd drive out to have lunch with my dad. I LOVED to tag along. They'd usually go out to a fast food place. Now that I think back, this must have been their weekly "date." Cute. I never realized that.

*My mom loved gardenias. They reminded her of the day she got married. She didn't care for roses. They reminded her of her mother's funeral.

*She suffered from hay fever every year. She said it would suddenly end, every year, on the 4th of July.

*My mom didn't sweat the small stuff.

*I don't remember my mom sitting down to read the scriptures. My dad did, but I don't recall that of her, but if someone needed a meal, she was there. If someone needed a ride, she was their girl. She was a doer.

*I remember her taking us to Primary in the middle of the week and we would pick up kids from other families week after week. My brother said that the kids lived in "Marlene Ghetto." It wasn't a very nice neighborhood, but we'd go every single week to get those kids and take them to Primary.

*My mom was NEVER sick.

*She liked to read Erma Bombeck books.

*My mom made things like "shipwreck" and tuna noodle casserole and spaghetti and tacos for us kids to eat.

*My mom's purse was kept on top of the fridge.

*She kept an ashtray tucked way back in the cupboard that held the pots and pans for when her sister (really her step-sister, but she never called her that) came to visit.

*My mom was not into fashion. She wore polyester pants and drove a station wagon. She didn't care, and you know what, neither did the people who knew her. Her heart, her spirit, her demeanor were always fashionable.

*My mom was a lip kisser.

*I remember her taking the time to read to me as a child. There was a story about a squirrel who went home to find toy soldiers had taken over her house. I was always relieved at the end to know that the squirrel prevailed. I remember a cardboard book "I Look Through My Window" or something like that that had a hole in the middle shaped like a window, and as you turned the pages it took you through the seasons. I must have been 2 or 3 because we lived in our house on 123rd in Beaverton. I also remember a Hans Christian Anderson story that had one of those cool covers that was bumpy to the touch and as you turned the cover one way or another the scene would move and look like the people on it were moving.

*My mom had wadded up tissues, a comb and a tiny mirror in a little rubber-ish case in her purse. I remember her handing me a tissue and having to ask whether it was used or not. It was always a new tissue; it had just been in there getting tossed around.

*She always wore lipstick but that was all as far as makeup went.

*We weren't allowed to get into the compartments in my parents' headboard of their bed. The compartments had these cool sliding doors. Anyway, they were forbidden. I snuck a peek once (or twice) on her side, and all I found were these nasty cough "disc" things in a box that slid open. Never understood why that was such a big deal.

*She got mad at me when I poured the entire bottle of baby oil down the sink in the bathroom when I was four. I thought it was water, and I had refilled it, so I didn't understand the hubbub.

*My mom believed that children needed to have pets, so we always had one or two cats and a dog.

*We almost always had a "bedtime snack," and very often it was ice cream. If we were really lucky, she'd have those brightly colored ice cream cones or sometimes the cones with people's names on sides of them. Of course, I always had to have a "girl name." My brothers and I would declare who we were to everyone before we'd eat the ice cream--"I'm Jane!" or "I'm Susan!" and I'd hear "I'm Pete!" If it was a really lucky day, we'd find one with our own names on them. Of course, that cone was meant just for us.

*When I was about 3 or 4, my mom was going to pick up a babysitter (Susie Larsen--my favorite--who'd take us out to the backyard and play mother-may-I and redlight-greenlight with us) for the evening and took a few of us along. She drove onto a nearby street to show us a house that had burned down to teach us about fire safety. I remember being freaked out by the blackness of what remained of the house.  She made her point without even having to say anything.

*My mom took us kids to "Prairie Market" to grocery shop. She let us ride on the flatbed and mark things with the grease pencils they would have in a little cardboard box near the checkouts when you first came in.  The pencils were used to mark the price on your own groceries. I think there were times she tried to stop us from getting those pencils, but after a few times she just gave up knowing that at least they'd keep us busy and out of trouble.

*Most important of all, my mom loved me. There was never any doubt EVER that this was true. She took the time for me.

So, today she'll be on my mind. Just like she is at some point in almost everyday. I'm going to try not to think of this day thirteen years ago. That time of my life proved that I'm stronger than I think I am. That's one of the very few things I'm grateful for for that day.

I will spend today being grateful for a wonderful, loving, caring mom, and I'll spend this day working, like I try to do everyday, to become more like her.


Kimberly said...

This was a beautiful tribute to your mother. It explains a lot about why you are you, and I'm very grateful that you have all of those memories of her. She lives on through you.

Alyson said...

Really lovely, heartwarming post! I would have loved to have known your mother.

Julia Shinkle said...

I like your Mom. I love the part about the ice cream cones at the grocery store. I wish I was more like her and was not so quick to be angry. I love how you discribe her eyes and smile. : )

Tonya said...

I love this.

And if I would have known your Mom I think I would have loved her, just as I love you.

Two amazing ladies!

See, the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Lena Baron said...

Oh sweet sister, I shed a few tears for you as I read this. You were blessed with a treasure as a mother, and she was blessed with the same a a daughter. You're in my thoughts and prayers tonight! ((HUGS!))

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