I have quite a few vivid memories with my Mom that stand out over the rest. There are many memories, but a few stand out as vivid points in time. I count myself as having one of the best Mom’s out there. Not because we were best friends, or because she let me do anything I wanted, or because she gave me everything I ever asked for. On the contrary, Mom was Mom first. She and Dad gave me clear boundaries, and me work for what I got. That last part had mixed results, but I got a foundation that helped me improve later in life.
I remember when I was very young, perhaps 3 or 4, and I decided I wanted to read. My Mom read a lot, and we always had books around the house. The kids books on the bookshelf in my room had nice pictures, but words too. I walked up to my Mom, who was standing at the sink and told her I wanted to learn to read. She told me to go get a book, and I chose “Now We Go to Church” from the shelf. I would point to a word, and she would tell me what it was. I would repeat it, and move to the next word. It went like this for a few days until I could read through the book unaided. From that day forward, I was a reader.
Mom has always been quite musical. She played the piano as long as I can remember. She sang in church often, and led the church choir. She transferred this to me through singing, piano lessons, and violin once I was old enough to join the school orchestra. I joined her, singing in church. Often we would sing duets, or she would play the piano while I sang. One of my favorite memories is my Mother and her sisters, gathered around a piano singing “Mockingbird Hill.” These days, Mom’s tickling the keyboard of her PC more than the ivories of the piano, but so aren’t we all.
When I was in the latter half of my school career, Mom was the School Food Supervisor for our school system. This gave me input into the school lunch menus, as Mom would ask my opinions. I’d ask the other kids at school what they thought about things. On days where lunch choices were particularly good or bad, people would come to me to comment. The good would return, and the bad would never be seen again on the lunch menu. Little did Mom know that her job choice actually slightly elevated her son’s social standing.
One day I was talking to Mom in the kitchen. I forget the details of the conversation, but I do remember my adolescent mind coming up with a joking smartass comment. When I said it to Mom, she took the glass of water she was drinking and threw it at me. There I stood in the kitchen, my wet shirt a sign that I had reached a boundary. Mom wasn’t one for sass, and I wasn’t one for dishing it out. As it turns out, I spent most of my time growing up well within those boundaries. I made mistakes, but I always came back to my comfortable place, following the lessons that taught me what boundaries should exist.
This is the same Mom that decided she wanted to sell books on the Internet, so she learned how. I helped her a lot, but she studied, practiced, and improved. Eventually she decided to go to school, so she proceeded to graduate at the top of her class in Internet Technology.
One thing, though, that Mom has done is endure. I know my Dad. Great guy, but he must be a pain in the ass to have as a husband. For sure their kids are all pains in the ass to varying degrees, myself most-definitely included. There was also another sibling, my sister Denice. She lived for 9 years, severely mentally retarded (the acceptable term of the day) and generally sickly. She died young, but not before exceeding pretty much every grim outlook the doctors gave. Mom endured us all, and still does.
For a while Mom handled the business end of Dad’s shop, later in the day. She would be working in the shop, her hearing-aids turned down low, concentrating on numbers. Unfortunately, my brother and I were often in the shop together at that time. There are many stories to tell, but suffice to say she endured that too.
Oh, an the food. If you know my Mom, you’ve at least heard about the food. Mom has been cooking all of her life, with fresh ingredients. She cooks with the simple flavors of good ingredients, allowing the flavor to shine through. That’s called good, homecooked, Southern cooking in general, but Mom’s was always special. The table was full of a variety of often one-ingredient choices at dinner, supporting at least one more complex side dish and a meat or two. It resembled a buffet as much as a family dinner, and it was all delicious. Well, except for that one time that Mom insists was an experiment every time I bring it up. I think of that one major gastronomic failure from the woman in my entire life as endearing. I don’t think she does.
Mom, you’re awesome. Thanks. Here’s a picture of a squirrel levitating a nut.