I love my mother more than I can tell you. She is a woman of class and faith, and at times I was not sure it was possible she could be MY mother (I wrote a bit about this in Why I Am Not Cool and a bit more about her here). However, having a daughter of my own, I can tell you that, while the differences between mothers and daughters can sometimes be stark and contrasting causing a good deal of friction, there is also a level of acceptance and understanding buried in there that has no equal in any other relationship a woman can have. At least, in my case.
My mother does not read this blog. For one thing she is not a person that spends much time online. And by “much time” I mean that if she wants to know something online she calls my dad into the study to go online and check email or look something specific up for her. This is a rare occurrence. And, I suppose, understandable for someone who has lived the overwhelming majority of her life without the internet.
Another reason is that, while my mother understands (but certainly doesn’t necessarily agree with) my stances on most everything posted on here, I tend to be a bit crude for her taste. I use bad words and that kind of thing. My mother does not use “idle words” of any kind (when I was a kid I got in trouble for saying “gosh” as it was both an “idle word” and a clear substitute for saying “God” which was blasphemous and never, ever tolerated in my parents’ home). To this day, I am amazingly impressed at the level of filtration that automatically appears in my speech as soon as I am in my parents’ presence. I also can be a bit sacrilegious and irreverent (something I love, but would send my mother to her knees praying for my soul – as if she does not spend a good deal of time doing just that anyway. At this point she just figures it is better if she just doesn’t know, I think. And, ok, I suppose I am more than “a bit” irreverent), which she definitely disapproves of.
There are others who do read this blog (at least occasionally) who talk to people who talk to my mother and who have told her some things about what is on here (did you follow that sentence?). She even mentioned once that she was told my posts could be moving, but she would not like my language. This insures that she will never try to read any post I will have, which is fine by me. I don’t know if I could be as honest and forthcoming if I knew my mother was reading this. (Of course, on the other hand I may be able to use a filter, but then that would not be near as much fun).
All this being said, I figured I would tell you a few truths and endearments about my mother in honor of Valentine’s Day.
- She wanted to be just like Doris Day when she was a kid. I think she achieved her dream. My mother will forever love The Glass Bottom Boat and (her all-time favorite) Pillow Talk. She liked The Man Who Knew Too Much just fine, but would rather see a romantic comedy over a Hitchcock film any day. (Daddy, on the other hand, will watch any Hitchcock any time. I tend to agree with him – after all, I was named after a Hitchcock film). She also has the ability to totally block out the fact that Rock Hudson was gay and, for her, any good film ends with a kiss and marriage proposal.
- She has great style and presentation. Her house looks like something out of a magazine. No joke. You have seen Shabby Chic? Well, my mother had it down before that ever became popular. Just like in most other things, my mother’s style is more polished and prettier than mine.
- She is very outgoing and popular. You cannot look through her high school yearbooks without finding her everywhere. She was secretary of a half-dozen clubs (I don’t think women were presidents of clubs much in ’63). Everyone who meets my mother loves her. She is kind, empathetic, funny and at ease. Whenever I go into some sort of social situation (ok, whenever I am forced into one I cannot possibly find a way out of), I pretend to be my mother. Deep down I feel silly, but I come off as social and talkative. And I am the most anti-social person you can imagine.
- Oh, my, but can my mother cook. She won the 1963 Alabama Beef Cook-off. I have the engraved silver tray she won hanging on the wall in my dining room. She was all of 18 and won the State cook-off. She entertains on a regular basis and has two sets of china and countless beautiful crystal and cut-glass dishes with which to do it. If you have ever had a brunch or dinner at my mother’s, you might as well be at a fine restaurant. Starched napkins and table cloths, polished sliver, fine china… and perfect dishes she cooked herself from scratch presented and garnished to perfection.
- She was a runner-up in the Miss Brundidge pageant in 1963 and rode on a float in the Alabama Peanut Festival Parade holding roses and wearing a beautiful white gown.
- She is devoutly religious. For reasons I will not get into out of respect for her privacy and the fact that she would not want me to tell it, she raised me very differently from the way she was raised. And she did that intentionally. They go to church once on Wednesday nights and twice on Sundays… and any other time the doors are open. If I get into heaven it will be because my mother literally prayed me in.
- She is a prosthesis fitter in the Women’s Center at the Southeast Alabama Medical Center and has been featured in articles and billboards. When she retired as a Special Education Aide from the Dothan School System, she started volunteering at the hospital working in the Gift Shop and Women’s Center Boutique. It didn’t take them long to hire her for a paid position. Soon after she was sent to Atlanta to become a certified breast cancer prosthesis fitter. She is really good at her job.
- She loves and respects my dad more than I can tell you. They have a unique marriage. Unfortunately, I grew up thinking that their marriage was normal and that was just how men and women treated each other. I was so very wrong, as evidenced by my long run of failed relationships and marriages. My parents’ marriage is so different in that both of them put each other first, period. They are not selfish or putting their own interests first. And each of them knows that the other is mindful of that. Constantly. I had a rude awakening when I got out into the world and found out that loving and respectful marriages are very rare. It took me decades to find one of my own. Thing is, both of them know how lucky they are.
- She loves to play cards. When I was a kid, it was Rook. Now it is something called Hand and Foot. My parents play with their church friends and they are good, although (ironically, after writing what I just did above) they never partner together, preferring to play on opposite teams. Jay and I are taking the boys and heading down this weekend and my mother has already told me to tell Jay she is lying in wait. Mother and I will play Daddy and Jay. There will be snacks and plenty of trash talking. It’ll be fun.
- She is remarkable. I am not sure whether or not Mother will ever let me write a story about her and some of my family. Where she comes from, you keep those things to yourself. But I could tell you a wonderful and gripping tale based on her and my grandmother, maybe myself and even my daughter. Maybe I will have to settle for using it as inspiration for a fiction tale, but the truth is much more compelling than anything I can make up. And so is she.
I truly hope Mother has a wonderful birthday.