Tuesday, May 4, 2010

My Mom Could Roller Skate

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.

© 2010 All Rights Reserved


  1. What a beautiful story. I read every single word.

    Absolutely fascinating woman. Your mother was so many things, wasn't she?

    The part that broke my heart is how she still looks for her baby, and smiles when holding a toy doll.

    That'll be me..."where are my babies."

    This was beautifully told. Thank you.

  2. What a lovely tribute. And I absolutely love that at 15, you were proud of her for skating. I adore my mom, but when I was 15, she couldn't do anything right...

  3. This is so wonderful! With Mother's Day just around the corner it's such a great tribute to your mom. It brought a tear to my eye but in a happy way. Thanks for this!

  4. SO heartfelt and warm. I hope my daughters talk about me like that someday. :)

  5. What a beautiful tribute! (You actually got me teary eyed.)

  6. What a beautiful tribute to your mom.

  7. That was wonderful! My hubs was an after thought when his Mom was 43, so he kind of has this only child thing going, but yet 4 sets of parents with 3 much older siblings! I, on the other hand, was the product of teen parents....our family dynamic messes with my kids, one set of grandparents being the same age as the other set of GREAT grandparents, aunts & uncles on that side as old as MY parents! Even still, with my young Mom, all my days spent at the roller rink, I just can't even imagine her having joined me! A lovely post for Mother's Day!

  8. At 45, I got to go back to the roller rink with my young girls. Imagine my surprise when my 11-year-old said to all her friends "Wow! Look how good my Mom is!". Well, I did spend almost all my high school years on roller skates, and I used to be preety good.... I just thank goodness that they had lost interest and turned away when I fell and broke my wrist! LOL!!!

    Your mother sounds just like the kind of Mom I hope I am in the eyes of my daughters. Beautifully written.

  9. Empress: Yes she was many things but my favorite was my mom.

    Peryl:When I was 15 I was way more of a pain in her butt than she was in mine!

    SF, bbcd mama, Susan and Jessica: Thank you for the sweet comments. I had a blurry screen while writing it and can only hope my kids feel the same.

    Mayor: How funny! My husband and I have the same situation in reverse. My parents older, his very young. As a result my inlaws are only a couple of years older than my siblings and I have neices older than his sisters. It must make for a good marriage combo though!

    Dj: That is Great! Not your wrist, I'm sorry about that, But isn't it fun to surprise the kids. My life revolved around the skating rink(literally) through all my teen years. A few years ago I got to go as a chaperone for a field trip. At least that was my excuse. I had a wonderful time and didn't break bones but did break a pivet cup on my ancient trucks and nearly broke my behind when it went! If there was a place closer I would still go every week, I had great legs back then...so did my mom!

  10. That was so cool and I love that your mom could and did get out there on skates again, spunky and spirited! What a most wonderful post for this week. Thank you for writing this!

  11. This is SUCH a wonderful tribute to your mom. I really enjoyed reading this. And yes, any mom who skates is wayyy cool!

  12. I hope my girls talk of me just like you have of your mother.....I hope they remember me as a fun mum who did things with them and made them happy....

  13. This was a fabulous tribute to your mother. She sounds like a great lady.

  14. Oh my heart, how touching. I had tears myself and such compassion and warmth for her story you told so beautifully. I love the piano song. So sad. So sweet.

    I can totally see her leaving you in the dust at the rink! We have a very large rink here in Arlington. Sydney & I have gone and she can't keep up! I never had all the moves down, just speed. :-)

    Happy Mother's Day to you and your mom. I hope she smells the flowers and remembers something wonderful.

  15. Ohhh No you didn't say that?! I love skating although I could never rubber leg but I don't think I look bad. My mom going....Naw.. Don't think so. She can't even ride a bike

  16. So glad I stumbled on your blog today. This was beautiful. While not exactly the same, your tribute harkened to some of the things my own mother did/does: crying at every holiday and playing Let Me Call You Sweetheart being two of them. That song gets me every time.

    Thanks for the great read. I will be back :)

  17. Blue Violet; Buckeroomama; Farmers Wifey, and Tara R.(so glad you came by): Spunky, Cool, Fun & Fabulous, yes you are right I am adding them to the list! You guys are all of those things too:)

    Angelia: Looks like a need to move to Arlington.
    I'm bringing Help Mama with me so we can all leave our kids in the dust!

    Gigi: So nice to meet you! The Crying thing! I guess it must be Mama stress of some sort because I'm getting old and I started carrying on the tradition myself last Christmas:)

  18. Hey - I'm not sure how you follow, but my Target Giftcard Giveaway is ending soon! I'm trying to get my Blogger girls following me again on WP. Thanks! Have a great weekend and Happy Mother's Day!

  19. The opening to your post reminded me of my daughter, now 37, when she was a child. She kept asking for a "real family." Finally, I understood that she meant something like the Cleavers: Mom home, Dad at work, etc., etc. She never got it! Now that she has her own life, she says that she would not know how to handle life as a real family! (She does remember wanting and asking, though.)

  20. You know Elizabeth, I chose to be a stay at home mom because of some things I felt I actually did miss as a child. I also had the impression that having a perfectly clean house and carefully organized world would create a more perfect life. That doesn't exist. It really is who we are, not what we are that defines us.

  21. What a gorgeously written tribute. Thank you so much for sharing your mom with us. In fact, I think I would've loved to have been her friend, too!

    I remember my mom teaching my big sister and me how to jitter bug, how to snap beans at the kitchen table and how to laugh. Oh, how she LOVED laughing (and still does). She is one of my greatest friends and advisors.

    Thank you again for this.

  22. It is interesting to see how our children react to their childhoods. My oldest daughter, Lizzie, who wanted the Cleaver family went on to become a cognitive neuroscientist -- researcher and professor -- and is not likely ever to have a Cleaver home herself. She now appreciates her unusual childhood, including her foreign travel and living. My older son, Shane, on the other hand, who only ever wanted two things, a room of his own and a dog, which he never got because there were seven children and only three bedrooms, which we rented (no dogs allowed), married someone who turned out to be a stay-at-home mom. They both like it that way, and I am proud of how good a mother my daughter-in-law is. I think my grandchildren enjoy a level of emotional security that I had to work hard with my children to build and that they would not have developed if we had not put in that deliberate effort. There are always choices in life. When it comes to parenting, there are no perfect ones, especially when there is more than one child, for the needs of one child may differ wildly from the needs of another.

    Thanks for such a good opportunity to retrospect and introspect.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  23. I follow from MBC http://www.thriftymommastips.blogspot.com/


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