November 15, 2010

She taught me

Mom, if you're reading this, grab your tissues.  Sorry.
My Mom had a hard go of it when I was growing up.  Plenty of tears were shed inside the walls of 44 W. 34th Street, mine and hers, mostly, since girls tend to cry more than boys.  The five of us have come a long way since then, and we are proud of what our family has become.  There were good times, though, even back then, and certain things will trigger memories that make me feel good all over.  Like the smells of chlorine, cut grass, sunscreen, pot roast, clean sheets, burning wood, tent fabric, fall leaves, snow melts, old lipstick, and Snickerdoodles.  The tinny, haunting sound of Dwight Yoakam's voice.  The feel of a cold wood floor underneath my bare feet.  Birds' nests.  Playground children chirping outdoors on a bright May day.

And there are things that I am now that I would not be without the days of my childhood; without my Mom.  My loving daddy, with his big, scarred belly and his beard the color of chocolate, helped to shape me as well (that's another blog post, Dad, and don't worry, I will point out that your belly is no longer big).  Nobody, however, leaves a more lasting impression on a girl than her mama.

She taught me to cook.  She did not actually instruct me in cooking, but she taught me that preparing a good meal for my family is one of the most honorable ways to spend my time.  She never said so in words, of course.  Her Turkey Pot Pie spoke for itself.
She taught me to clean.  I don't pretend to be a neat-freak, and I wouldn't want to be, but my mom never let dust accumulate on her end tables and I don't intend to, either.  One thing I never was as a child was ashamed to bring anyone over to my mother's house.

She taught me to think about the needs of others.  One Christmas, for example, we received a trip to Disney World rather than hoards of toys.  On our way south from Michigan we handed out cute bundles of homemade Christmas cookies to the gas station attendants who were working on Christmas Day.  It was my mother's idea.  "Do something nice for someone, it will cheer you up," she would tell me when I was having a bad day.  Now I tell my children the same thing. 
She taught me that there is always something to laugh about, something to be thankful for, something to hope in, and no matter how bleak things might look, there is always something for dinner.