Roger, who is hosting again this month, wanted to hear about some memories of our mothers. This topic is difficult for me so I am reposting this that I wrote in May of 2008. It is all still true and my mother, God love her, turned 94 in April. The topic, in 2008, was heroes.
OK, this may sound a little weird, but my hero is my mother. I have not spoken to my mother in 20+ years. I guess a more accurate statement would be that she has not spoken to me in 20+ years.
She is still my hero.
I learned from my mother how to shop. This sounds frivolous, but I am talking about shopping for food and clothes. There were certain food items that, in my mother’s mind, would not be purchased if their price got above a set amount. These were not luxuries but things like mayonnaise. If Best Foods got above $.39, we did without. I learned, when shopping for clothes, to always buy the very best that you could afford and to buy classic styles.
I learned from my mother how to be a friend. When I was in 1st or 2nd grade, our neighbor’s husband was hurt in a construction accident. He underwent numerous brain surgeries and was left less than whole. Our neighbor, Honey, kept her husband at home. She, who had never worked, went back to college, got her LVN and went to work to support the family and care for her husband. She did not do this alone. My mother went with her. They graduated together, worked together, and retired together. Honey has since died. Her husband died when I was 19.
I learned from my mother how to be faithful to my religion. My mother never missed Mass. She went every Sunday, even if she could not, because of work, go with the family. She attended Church on every Holy Day. She dragged us kids whether we wanted to go or not. She worked, in part, so that she and Dad could afford to send my brother and me to parochial schools. She observed those domestic rites of the Church that are slowly coming back - weekly family rosaries, holy water at home, and religious art. There is not a single doubt in my mind that, when I left the Church, the rosaries and novenas started and that she prays for me still. And, yes, I found my way back.
I learned from my mother how to be polite and gracious. I learned that there are certain responses that are required to certain situations. This is a gift not to be taken lightly. Good manners have stood me in good stead through some very tumultuous times. Yes, ma’am, they have.
I learned from my mother how to honor a vow. My parents were married in 1940 and stayed that way until my father’s death in February of 1999. Theirs was not a happy marriage- at least not during the 18 years that I was at home. My father, God rest his soul, was a chain-smoking alcoholic who never missed either a day of work or a chance to belittle his younger children. I understand from my older siblings that he was different when they were young. I will never know. My mother, though, stayed. She did not allow us to show disrespect for our father in his house. She cooked for him, she cleaned for him, and she did everything that a “good wife” was supposed to do for him. She honored the commitment that she had made, as a young and hopeful bride, to her husband and to God.
The most important thing that I learned from my mother is how to be a grandmother. My daughter would not hesitate to tell you that my mother is her favorite grandmother. This is due, in huge part, to the fact that my mother loves my children unconditionally, totally, and without end. The same mother who strove to put me into the proper mold allowed my child’s imagination to run rampant. The same mother who never kissed me cuddled my children even after they were “too old”. The same mother who would not allow me to wear makeup until I was 16 bought my daughters eye makeup when they were 12 and, yes, I took it back. The same mother who made me feel less than adequate has nurtured in my children the absolute knowledge that they are the most important things in her world.
I learned from my mother how to have the courage of one’s convictions. Regardless of why she disowned me, she has done a banner job of it. I learned from my mother to never, ever, do this to one of my children.