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DID YOU EVER KNOW THAT YOU'RE MY HERO?
May 8, 2011
This is a rerun of an entry I wrote in 2003. It was true then, it is true now (except she's 91 instead of 83 now!)
No one to look at her would believe she is 83. No one who tries to follow her around throughout her week would believe she is 83. She still has all her own teeth*, has more brown than grey in her hair (shes never colored it), and she does more in a week than I do in a month.
*(well, she's lost a couple in the last 3 years)
My mother was born in 1919 in Stockton, but soon moved to
the town of Galt, now unrecognizable as the farm community it was then. The family moved to a small ranch on the
outskirts of town. She was the 7th
of 10 children and reportedly was sick for an extended period time and fed on goats
milk, to which she credits her good teeth.
My mother was born in 1919 in Stockton, but soon moved to the town of Galt, now unrecognizable as the farm community it was then. The family moved to a small ranch on the outskirts of town. She was the 7th of 10 children and reportedly was sick for an extended period time and fed on goats milk, to which she credits her good teeth.
At 5 she was walking the 2 miles to school (presumably
barefoot in the snowIm not sure about that part <g> ). She loved to play with paper dolls, cutting
figures out of the Sears Roebuck catalog and creating fantasy worlds for herself while
sitting at the top of a long flight of stairs going up into the attic of the small home.
At 5 she was walking the 2 miles to school (presumably barefoot in the snowIm not sure about that part <g> ). She loved to play with paper dolls, cutting figures out of the Sears Roebuck catalog and creating fantasy worlds for herself while sitting at the top of a long flight of stairs going up into the attic of the small home.
They moved into town while she was still in grammar school and in her senior year in high school, her parents moved to San Francisco. She preferred to graduate with the class she had gone all through school with and so a couple in town allowed her to live with them and she did ironing and housework to pay for her keep. (Shes always loved ironing go figure).
After graduation, she joined her parents and some of her siblings in San Francisco, where she began working as a bookkeeper for a book store and, in due course, she met and married my father (even his own mother warned her about his temper).
She was always the cosmopolitan one in her familyalways the best groomed, the most city-fied of the brood. She alwaysand to this dayknew how to dress, and always looked striking in whatever she wore.
There were difficulties in beginning a family, but eventually, 3 years after the marriage, I came along. Watching how she has been with her grandchildren, and with other children, I just know I must have been the most loved child ever to have been born. I certainly was the best dressed.
My sister Karen followed 4-1/2 years later and our family was now complete. We did all the usual things and I remember what a terrific mother she was to us. I remember stories we read together, games we played together, puzzles we worked together. She baked cookies for afterschool snacks, pinned paper bags to the side of our bed when we were sick, so we could drop used tissues in them, brought me hot milk with butter floating in it in the middle of the night if we had a cough. She made our clotheseven took a tailoring class so she could make tailored outfits. She was in the PTA and helped with Scouts and did all those Mom things.
She was a great cook. Not so much an adventurous cook like I am, or an inventive one like Tom, but nobody can cook a pot roast, make a potato salad, or a turkey stuffing the way she can.*
*(it saddens me that she has forgotten these skills now!)
I remember fondly watching her sit and peel apples for apple pieand loved the little cinnamon rolls she would make out of the excess pie dough to give to us. She also learned from a Mexican neighbor how to make authentic enchiladas, a task that took three days (which included time for the home-made chorizo to age). Her enchiladas were all the rage of many a dinner party. They were served in a leaf of romaine lettuce and sprinkled liberally with Parmesan cheese.
She was also the hostess I aspire to be and never will be. She gave wonderful parties, the house always in perfect order, a big smile always on her face, the perfect food, always making people feel comfortable, always keeping things interestingmanys the night in my youth when the party crowd would roll up the rug to dance, which she loves to do. (Thats something she learned in her own parents living room, when the town would crowd into the teeny space, the fiddlers would haul out their instruments and play, and people would dance into the wee hours of the morning.)
She and Karen and I were a small army of 3, coping with my fathers mercurial temper, his periods of silence, and all the anxiety that went along with trying to keep peace in the family. I rarely saw her cry, though she certainly had enough reason to.
(The death of my sister in 1971 was a pain she bore like everything else, with strength. Because my father considered this his private pain, she never felt she could cry in front of him and when she had to cry, she left the house to do it in private.)
When I was in high school, she got herself a job. My fathers erratic schedule (he worked on a train and his days on and days off were never the same two weeks in a row) made it impossible to get a full time job because she felt there should be someone at home when we returned from school. But she marched into the Bank of America, offered her services, said that she could only work 3 days a week and it would be a different 3 days each week and she couldnt tell them until the previous week what the schedule would be like the following week. Amazingly, she impressed them enough that they hired her. She went from part time secretary to full time executive during her long history with the bank, and now that shes retired, she is active with the retirees club (along with several other social groups).
After 35 years, she finally found the strength to leave a marriage that had long since died and she finally found happiness with her second husband, with whom she shared a wonderful life for 18 years. He was a general contractor and together they built a home (she learned how to crawl out onto frames to hammer pieces of wood), and she planted a marvelous gardenthe kind you see in gardening magazines. She and plants speak the same language. They look at me and cower, knowing that Ill probably kill them. They look at her and bloom furiously.
Because so many in her family fell to various forms of cancer, she became active in Hospice of Marin for which she worked tirelessly in their thrift shop. Hospice helped her through her husbands cancer death and she continues to devote her time there. She also belongs to several other organizations, and has been president or secretary for most. She goes to more fashion shows, luncheons and dinners in a month than I go to in a year.
She is an amazing woman. She gives tirelessly of herself, to relatives and to strangers alike. Shes a vicious game playergin rummy, cribbage, poker, solitaire. I swear she cheats. She insists shes just skilled.*
*(It saddens me that she is losing THIS skill too.)
She still looks like she walked out of the pages of a fashion magazine most of the time. She has her hair done every week, her nails are always polished, her house is always spotless. I must be a throwback to some former generation.
She is my friend and my closest confidante. She is my mother and I love her.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(We are both a bit more grey now!)