Sunday, May 9, 2010

Tribute to My Mom

Happy Mother's Day!  I hope y'all are having a lovely day.  I'm having a very nice one.  The husband and kids are great, church was nice, and we just ate the leftovers from our Italian restaurant trip last night.

My mother passed away some years ago, and I'm finally reaching a place where I can think about all the wonderful things about her without feeling such a crushing loss.  She's in that happy place now where she's young, strong, and active again, and we don't grieve like those who don't have that hope.

Mom died from lung disease.  She was a fit, active, slim woman with tons of energy, but almost a lifelong heavy smoker.  My heart goes out to - and breaks - for smokers.

Mom was an artist.  As she finished high school, she had an art scholarship to France, but her family didn't have the funds during the depression to send her to Europe, so she studied art at the University of Denver and worked all kinds of jobs to help with family expenses.  She dropped out during her senior year to marry my father, who was a pilot.  I'm sure she was excited about travelling as a military wife, and she was very good at that, incredibly good at making friends, at moving a big family, at finding doctors and services for all her kids (I have four siblings) and forming relationships with teachers and other people in her kids' lives.

Mom would doodle marvelous drawings as she talked on the phone.  If she had a very chatty, lonesome girlfriend, she would turn the classified ads into fanciful sketches while she listened.  She understood clothing design; when her fur coat went out of style, she took it apart and remade it.  She taught me to sew very young.  She crocheted and embroidered, too, but had no patience for knitting.  Mom wasn't terrific at needlework, because she was in too much of a hurry.

My mother had that artist's eye about a lot of things.  She could glance at clothing on the hanger, insist that I try it on, and wow!  It would fit and be exactly the right color for me, even though I'm hard to fit.

I generally think of my mother in motion, a skinny little thing, always doing something.  I have vivid memories of her ironing, mending, sewing, cleaning, scrubbing, gardening, chasing children, and running errands.  Mom and Dad would make lists of things that needed done in the mornings, and then the lists would get crossed off, with Mom doing most of the work.

My Mom was an incredible gardener, and took favorite plants and bulbs with us all over the country as we moved.  We always had cut flowers from our own yard, especially roses.  She used to head for the garden center with the same maniacal gleam in her eye that I have for the yarn aisle - and she knew the Latin names of all the plants and their care.  Not that she spent much money - Mom was clever at growing big plants from small ones, or getting cuttings to take root.  Mom dug up and moved plants that didn't do well until she found the right spot, and finally they would flourish.

Mom was also good with little kids.  She was clever at making a game out of nothing.  Until she got sick, she was the kind of Grandma who got down on the floor and played with the kids.

Mom disliked drama.  As a kid, I'd moan and groan, maybe cry about something or other, and she'd tell me to go to sleep and everything would feel better in the morning.  I was a moody kid, and she was right.

Mom liked animals.  She had dogs, cats, and birds, and they all had a special relationship with her.  We'd talk the parents into an animal, and then it would become Mom's responsibility and Mom's pet.  She would teach the animals funny little tricks.

She had a killer work ethic.  We didn't malinger or skip school!  Mom expected us to go to school and get good grades, and we generally did.

It's hard to even imagine my mother's thrift,  unless you remember the Depression generation.  She grew up with so little, sharing an attic room with six sisters, using a root cellar and keeping chickens in the city of Denver, and then she got married young and had lots of children.  She pinched a penny until Lincoln had a headache.  Ordinary things we do every day would probably qualify to Mom as big splurges!  Knowing someone like my Mom gave me a sense that you can always find a way, financially - either by working, or being creative, or saving.

Mom had an incredible sense of humor, and when the going got very, very hard in her later years, especially when Dad was ill, she used humor to deal with life.  She enjoyed people and made friends incredibly easily. People confided in her, and she knew all about her friends, neighbors and nurses - their boyfriends, children, grandchildren, studies, plans, and hobbies.

Mom insisted on looking after Dad even as it became impossible and we all begged her to get some help.  It taught you something about loyalty.

In Mom's last few years, she was a shut-in.  She was on oxygen continually and had very little stamina.  But when I'd phone her to say hello, she'd describe to me how beautiful the crepe myrtles were outside her window or how many rabbits she'd seen between the condos in the morning, or tell me a story about her cat, or describe a grandkid's project, or tell me who had come to see her and how they were doing.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful, Diana!
    My mother is also a phenomenal gardener, but the needlework gene passed her by too, and landed on me.
    Thank you for sharing your tribute and wishing you a lovely Mother's Day too!