I once devastated my mother by telling her that my friends mother was "a real mom." She had asked me what my new best friends mom "did".
What do you mean a real mom? she had that funny little vertical line thing on her forehead between her eyes thing happening as she asked this. You know, I answered, she stays home and takes care of the kids and her house.
Uh Oh,.... wrong answer. She never forgave me for that comment. She would bring it up years later. After her Alzheimer's had set in I would sometimes catch her looking at me with that same look. She may not have known why but I sometimes thought, she's thinking that she doesn't like me much, she must be getting the vibe from that memory.
She had her first 4 children one after another. My four older brothers and sisters had a stay at home mom. Four small children at home and at the time no car and a husband away at war.That that may be why I had what in the 1960's and 70's was not an unheard of thing but was much less common than today, A Working Mom, and 4 older brothers and sisters plus a stay at home Aunt. Collectively, I personally think they all did an excellent job: )
I was an afterthought. I also had an older Mom than my siblings, she had me at 39. When I was little she would sing the song "Close To You" to me every time it came on the radio. I never had any doubt I was a loved child. Also, as the child of older parents I was a hostage to Sunday drives and know all the lyrics to all of Burt Bacharach's songs. There was a time in my life when I wouldn't have discussed that. Now that I am older I know that he truly is Awesomeness.
Anyway, though my mom was gone during the day the evenings and weekends were all ours. We had a hell of a good time. I remember a period when my father worked nights for a long time. I would climb up in the big bed with her and we would watch our shows. We never missed Mary Tyler Moore.
My mother was a late driver but once she had that license we were off! We visited her friends and my Grandmother. I grew up loving to sit quietly and listen to the sound of their voices as they chatted. I was great a disappearing and knew everybodies business. We shopped. We sometimes participated in the theatre. We went to the hairdresser. I loved it there. They had a style manikin just for me to play with. "Maybe that's were I actually got started on my almost career." The lady who owned the shop's mother in law was the receptionist and one day she taught me to crochet. Basically I hung out with my mom a lot when I was kid and I enjoyed it. When I was a teenager that didn't really change too much. I still preferred going shopping with my mom to my friends and we still had a lot of fun. Though of course she sometimes drove me nuts.
At the age of 13 my life began to revolve around a place. The Skating Rink. I loved to skate and I spent about 3 nights a week going from that time until I was married. We don't have a decent rink here anymore and I still miss it so much. Sometimes I dream about it. My skates are still in the closet.
I was surprised when my mom was so willing to drive me the 1st time I asked. She smiled. You want to go skating? Alright, that would be fine. And then I heard the story. My Mom loved to roller skate. She not only went almost Every Night during her teens and 20's, she met my Dad at a skating rink!
It's funny, back then she told me she sometimes dreamed about it .
One of my favorite memories of my mom was when I was around 15. During one of the many times she smiled wistfully and said she sure missed roller skating. She was around 54 at the time. So I told her. You should go. ""No I can't." Ultimately....I talked her into it.
When we arrived at the rink she came in. My friends asked, "what is your mom doing here? I proudly told them. She is going to skate. You should have seen their faces. Way short of being embarrassed I was excited, this was something I had to see. I don't think she had been on skates much since her 20's but that didn't matter. She laced up and hit the floor.
She was Awesome, my Mom rocked and I was so proud of her I couldn't believe it! That was My Mom and she was out there keeping up with the best of them. OMG she was "rubber legging"! "Where did you learn that, I asked her amazed?" She looked at me confused and said "What? It's the 2 step." Another case of teens being surprised they haven't invented everything. She wasn't kidding, she was a Master Roller Skater. And so Cool she could do it AC/DC. She only lasted about an hour and was ready to hand my hangout back to me but in that time I really became her biggest fan. The funnest part, my friends thought she was the coolest thing on earth. They were properly awed by her skills and bravery. I can't count how many times I heard that night," your mom is great, mine could/would never do that." Yes...she was!
So to describe my mom I would say
In her profession she was a great, highly organized and dedicated professional and very respected at work. She tried to retire in her sixties but couldn't stand it and went back to work. They were pleased for her to come back.
Her house was a mess.
Once when she was sick of mess and I was being a pain about cleaning my way out of control room, She took a push broom and pushed the entire contents from the floor of my room down the hall through the house and out the front door. I was shocked! And rather impressed.
She was not afraid of being silly and loved fun. She knew any number of silly songs and, like myself, performed them in the kitchen. She would make a funny face anywhere. She was known to secretly stick her tongue out at people if she thought they were being ugly. After she had Alzheimer's she forgot it was supposed to be secret which I have to admit I enjoyed the hell out of.
She had amazing good taste and really knew how to dress. All the way into her 70's elastic waist pants were Ok around the house but I would pick her up for church and she would be wearing the most beautiful outfits. I was always so proud of her. When she wore the color magenta her skin would glow and her eyes would explode with color. Even at 80 her skin was only lightly lined, her hair was thick and luxurious and she was damned gorgeous.
She wore Chanel # 5
I guess she was the kind of woman you would see walk in to a room and the words Elegant and Lovely might come to mind. And then she would look at you with a kind smile, cross her eyes and thumb her nose at you.
She loved to take car rides and travel. She always wanted to go somewhere. God help my Dad if it was football season : )
She had a Mean temper......and a big Soft squishy heart.
Whenever she held a baby her face would get the most peaceful, blissful look. Near the end she was always looking for her baby and she had a doll to hold and take care of.
She loved her family. Her favorite thing was when all her kids and their families were home at once and we would sing and cut up. We had a blast !
She cried at some point every holiday.
She loved my Dad. She missed him terribly. One day she had been looking for him all day which was a touchy subject. I was trying to keep her busy and suggested she play the piano which she had forgotten she could do but in little miracles sometimes did anyway. She told me"I don't know how".
Oh, just try for fun, I suggested. She sat down, reached out and felt the keys. Her eyes looked far away.
The notes began and the lyrics filled my head.
Let me call you Sweetheart......I'm in love with you.......
I sat on the stairs and listened in the other room. When she finally stopped my eyes were full of tears and I peeked into the room to see she was staring out for a moment through another time.
Please, I asked, play some more.
"I can't" she said. "I don't know how."
I was always a private person. My mother was very respectful of that. She never pushed or pried and I appreciated that so much as a young person. I knew that I could trust her if I needed to. And when I needed her to, she came through.
Once when I was in my thirties we were walking through a grocery store when I glanced down and noticed something. I stopped and pointed out, look at this, like mother like daughter. We were both wearing jeans and Keds and I pulled up my pants leg to show her, socks that matched our shirts. We stood in the middle of the store looking at each others socks and cracking up. The picture was so obvious the store manager walked by and looked at us and started cracking up too.
I have to say that even if she had not been my mom she would have been the friend of a lifetime. I feel sometimes that I let her down by not being able to manage near the end. This is the second year that flowers are the Only option I have to give for Mothers Day. But I can offer this tribute that I feel she would like best.
Over the years I gave her many mothers day gifts. Perfume, books, address books a scarf or pretty pin. Maybe a special lunch out.
It all seems so inadequate for a woman who was
Beautiful, Creative, Loving, Funny, Smart. Tough, Loyal.......
And Could Really Rock on Roller Skates.
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