Friday, June 11, 2010

A Mother's Legacy, a non-mushy Mother's Day tribute

This is not one of those mushy mother’s day columns. Even if you have recently lost your
mother, bear with me. For those of us who have lost mothers, sitting through Sunday Mother’s Day services at church and seeing the Mother’s Day cards everywhere can be bittersweet.

I challenge you all, if you fall into that category, to dig deep for the good memories. My mother has been gone now for 16 years. It’s hard to believe. But the good side of this is that all the bad or sad memories begin to fade, leaving sweet and funny ones in their place.

It has taken 16 years for the little aggravating things she did to become sweet and endearing—like taking back to the store every pair of shoes she ever bought—sometimes a month later. I can see my little teenaged self, rolling my eyes at the thought. And when she did find a pair she liked she bought six pair in different colors. Ugh.

We all catch ourselves saying things that sound like our mothers. Sometimes those phrases, such as “When I was your age…..” come out of my mouth and I could swear she is speaking through me.
She used to give me this disapproving look over her bifocals. It strikes fear in me still, just thinking about it. I was accused lately by a co-worker, of giving her that look. I can’t believe it.

I’ve already started embarrassing my children. It seems I addicted to lipstick and they constantly pick up drinking glasses and say, “Well, we know whose glass this is. It has Amber Suede on it.” I’m told I also do not drink out of a straw the right way and that I drive too slow. It’s only going to get worse.

In a way, that is a tribute. When I really miss my mother I try to be the kind of mother she was to me, with a few amendments. She showed me unconditional love. That happens when a woman waits 13 years for a baby only to have it die only days later. I was born 11 months later. The semi-smothering began.

Now that I’m over 50, I still want my mama when I’m sick. Still have the urge to call her at 10 each morning when I made my daily check-in call. Instead I call one of my children. Mothers of only children have a special calling—dealing with the little special ones and letting them go graciously.

But then, no less is the task of mothers of boys. Bless their hears. I have a son and a grandson, a step-grandson and a son-in-law. A few years ago when my grandson was about five I took him to a college rodeo. Being a horse person, when that pretty girl came running in the arena at full speed on that black horse with the American flag flying, I got chill bumps. My grandson stood up, without being told, put his little hand over his heart . My heart soared. As soon as the national anthem was over, he removed his hand from his heart, spread his legs and spat. Need I say more?

And for the mothers of girls—oh my goodness—let’s bless those little girls’ conniving and devious hearts. They hook you from the moment they are born with their heavy-lashed little eyes—the same ones they bat when they are teenagers and lying to your face.

Thanks goodness most of them come around. All I can say, is that my mother made me a better mother, grandmother, and friend. She whispers in my ear and gives me courage. She had brass and spunk, attributes I sometimes lack. I’m still trying.

The compliment that could be paid a grandmother is that 16 years after my mother’s death, my children are still giving each other photos of her and quoting her when the situation bring to mind a Nanny-like saying.

We can all pay tribute to our mothers this May by letting them live on through our relationships with our friends, children and grandchildren, even if they are not here to see.
But you won’t catch in a pair of shoes that has six cousins in my closet.

Published by DeSoto Magazine

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