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My Mother’s Daughter

Mom in the Smokies

This morning my mind drifted to my mother and her two sisters. Everyone said my mother and one of her sisters looked alike – they didn’t. They did favor one another, but they looked very different. My other aunt looked much different than her other two sisters.

One of my aunts was a school teacher. One summer I spent some time with her, but we never really established a strong connection. She was a lovely woman, but was more focused on things being just so. She took me to her gym – I remember sitting on a machine of moving rollers designed to eliminate cellulite I think. I was about ten or eleven. It was all a strange experience to me. Her life was far removed from the way my mother lived.

My other aunt was a chemist. She was very smart and very unassuming. She was married but never had children. Looking back, I think she was a bit of a hoarder, but was surrounded by the things that made her happy – books and family letters and memorabilia. I do not think she ever threw anything away – especially not letters or pictures from family. She made most of her own clothes, maybe from the same pattern. She lived on a dairy farm and led a simple life.

My mother fell somewhere between the two. She was a hard worker. There was no money for her to finish college, so she spent her life doing blue collar work. Her last job was working for the post office as a mail carrier. She had a foot route and she loved it. She got to know the people on her route and she loved being outside and getting exercise. It was a hard job, but she really did enjoy it.

This morning it struck me just how much I am like my mother. I did not get to go to college right out of high school. I joined the Air Force instead. My mother had already been diagnosed with terminal cancer so having a job was important. My mom never put on airs. She was herself in all situations and places. She loved to be comfortable and was happy in jeans or sweats. On occasion she would dress up and put on makeup and jewelry, but it was rare. Her family was everything to her.

She was always a country girl at heart, and I guess I am, too.

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My Non-traditional Mother

I was only nineteen when my mother passed away. It boggles my mind that she was only in my life for nineteen years and I have lived without her for forty-seven years. Still, I remember her larger-than-life personality as if I was with her yesterday.

My mother was not the kiss you on the cheek, tidy apron, cookie making mother. She was not a fan of any type of domestic chores. She was much more comfortable outside than inside. Maybe it was because she was raised on a farm.

Mom kneeling, second from the right

She played basketball for what I suppose were corporate intramural leagues when she worked for Raytheon. (Raytheon was a major defense contractor.) In Florida, she worked as a cocktail waitress in a small bowling alley. We moved back to Virginia and my parents went to find work in Ohio. There she worked for Goodyear Aerospace (defense and NASA contractor) and eventually worked as a mail carrier for the US postal service.

My non-traditional mother was denied the opportunity to finish college because of funding and her parents adamantly opposed her joining the military because of the presumed reputation military women carried. All a bunch or rubbish and the reason my mother supported all of her children joining the military.

As a result, we all learned to do our share inside the house. I cooked a lot of meals, did the laundry (mom insisted on a wringer washer and we did not have a dryer so all our laundry was hung to dry) while my parents worked.

Mom was much more comfortable outside working in the yard or playing touch football with all the neighborhood kids. We usually had a badminton net up in the side yard and horseshoe pits out back.

Mom was a great country cook and in Ohio all the neighborhood kids loved to come to our house to eat our strange but wonderful food – cornbread, biscuits and milk gravy, fried chicken and banana pudding were among the neighborhood favorites.

On the farm where my mother grew up, reading was the favored pastime. My mother was an avid reader (Zane Grey, Louis L’Amour, and Grace Livingston Hill were her favorites) and it was often difficult to break her attention from a good book. I remember well the way her face contorted as she read an action piece in a story as if she was herself involved in the conflict. When I took art classes, I often drew my mother’s hands as she sat still holding a book for long periods of time. In some ways I resented the time she spent lost in her books.

Mom even liked non-traditional tv shows and movies for most women of the time. She loved Sunday afternoon roller derby – especially the women’s teams. High Noon, 12 O’clock High, Rat Patrol, Where Eagles Dare, Von Ryan’s Express, Kelly’s Heroes, and The Great Escape were all my mom’s type of entertainment.

I am not sure I inherited my mother’s adventurous spirit, but I did inherit her desire to pursue my own path wherever that might lead me. I lost her too soon, but her feisty spirit lives on and for that I am forever grateful.

SoCS

SoCS – Back to the Playground

Linda‘s prompt had me back on the playground today. If you want to join in the fun, Check out Linda’s blog – she spells out the rules and you can read the the contribution of other bloggers.

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “may.” Use it any way you’d like. Have fun!

Linda might have been thinking about the fact today is the first day of May, but that’s not where my mind went.


My post title is a little misleading. Where I grew up there was no playground. Well, there was at school, but that was 6 miles away. Our playground was the wide open spaces.

If we could gather enough kids together, we would find a big yard and play things like  Red Rover, Kick the Can, Rock School, Simon Says, and Mother May I.

Mother May I is a strange game when you dissect it a bit. If you are not familiar, one person is designated as the mother. All the rest of the kids line up a distance from mother with the goal of being the first to reach mother.

The game is played by asking questions:

”Mother, may I take one giant step forward?”

Mother would respond with either yes you may, or no you may not.

Then another asks. “Mother, may I take three small steps forward?

Mother may then respond with something like “No you may not, but you may take one step backwards”.

You see, mother has all the control in determining who reaches her first. That doesn’t seem fair! Mother holds all the cards.

Perhaps the game’s origins hail back to the idea that mother is the boss and what she says goes! It sure was that way with my mother!

birthdays, Blog, mother

An Aging Mom’s Thoughts on Mother’s Day

Day 221

I was 19 when my mother passed away. I was in the Air Force and while I came home for the funeral, I was soon back on my own far away from family. It was a very hard time.

Back then, long distance calls were an expensive proposition. I remember that first Mother’s Day without my mom. I decided to go to the mall. In the middle of the mall, there were tons of radio operators (ham radio perhaps?) that had some way to offer free calls to the public for Mother’s Day.

I put my head down anxious to pass them when a woman stepped toward me and offered to let me make a call my mom. I just responded with a quiet “No thank you” to which she responded, “Don’t you love your mother?” It was cruel and hurtful. I bit my tongue and just walked away. It was a hard Mother’s Day and one I will never forget.

My mom was a tough helluva good woman. I miss her tremendously. She was not around for the birth of my own children, nor was she to ever meet any of her grandchildren. As sad as that may seem, her legacy lives on. Memories of her and her influence in our lives lasts forever.

Today is my husband’s first Mother’s Day without his mom. It will be hard I know. It will be especially difficult because Tuesday will be her burial. It is a lot to throw together in a small span of days. The family will come here after the short service, so I am at least happy he will have his family around him.

img_9854I received a wonderful surprise gift Friday from my daughters and granddaughter. Three dozen roses and a beautiful sun catcher with a hummingbird on it. They are gorgeous. I appreciate their thoughtfulness so much. I always want them to know that loving me and remembering me is always enough. The gifts I receive every day that I get to be a part of their lives is more than enough.

This is also my birthday weekend and I am still a bit under the weather, so it is destined to be a day of relaxation. We are not big bash celebrants so no big festivities planned today. I am getting calls and texts from family and friends which are always delightful and make my day!

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Image from Unsplash.com

Last night one of our daughters and her family dropped by for a surprise visit. Hubby fixed dinner and we had a nice time catching up. They brought me cards for my birthday and Mother’s Day. Then I received a text from one of our other daughters. She and her sister went together to buy me a gift certificate for a sensory deprivation float. How thoughtful! I am a little nervous but anxious to try it. I have been talking about it for weeks and it is so sweet they remembered.

This morning I received a video from my 21-month-old granddaughter singing happy birthday followed by a quick video chat. Such a sweet way to start my morning.

My husband and I will spend the day together just being. That is always a welcome way to spend a rainy day.

On being a mom:

Moms put in the work – sometimes the best mom is a dad.
Gifts are lovely, but a call or a visit is just as lovely.
Being a mom is a forever job.
Being a mom is hard, but also so rewarding.
Moms are not always perfect.
Children are not always perfect.
Sometimes families are healthy together.
Sometimes families are healthier apart.
Grandmothers are moms without the responsibility
AND I LOVE THAT!

For the many women who have lost children, Mother’s Day can be an extremely hard day. I send you my love and thoughts for this difficult day.

Mothers come in all shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to have a lot of strong mother figures in my life. When my mother passed away, my grandmothers, my sisters, my step-mom, my mother-in-law, and sometimes my good friends stepped in to fill that role. My Dad even filled that role many, many times. I could not have made it without their love, strength, and guidance. I will forever be indebted to them all.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!