I hope my tongue in prune juice smothers
If I belittle dogs and mothers.
- Ogden Nash
God could not be everywhere, so he invented mothers.
- Yiddish Proverb
My own personal mother was frugal, and proud of it. When I was a kid she refused to buy us raisin bran. She bought raisins and bran flakes, and told us to go make our own.
When I went off to college, she sewed my name tag into every piece of clothing I owned, including all my socks. And some of the tags were visible above the shoe line.
* Even then, knowing nothing about obsession, this seemed a bit obsessive. But I’m sure it came from her 1930s depression-era upbringing.
She could sew anything. She even sewed my 6-year-old brother’s head back together in the bathroom after he fell through a floor at a construction site and hit his head on a rock. She was a doctor, so I guess that was legal.
She had a sense of humor, too. One morning when I was little, she got up and made pancakes. It was very unusual for her to have time to cook breakfast for us, so this was special. Well, the pancakes were actually pieces of round cloth, coated with pancake batter. So after they were cooked, sitting on our plates covered with syrup and ready to eat, we could NOT cut them.
Turns out it was it was April Fools Day. Good one, Mom.
Back in the ’50s, she was a guest on the TV show “What’s My Line?” The panelists guessed she was a doctor fairly quickly, but not what kind.
If you’d like to see the show, it’s on youtube. You can skip ahead to 10:50 if you don’t want to watch the whole thing:
Signing in to that show on the blackboard was the ONLY time I ever remember her having legible handwriting. (She was a doctor!) When I was in college she used to write me letters on the back of surgery schedules. The surgery schedules were more interesting, and a lot easier to read.
She was talented in many ways, actually. Great singer, gourmet cook (when she had time), gardener, and as mentioned, could sew like a pro. Also liked to bring home jokes. She heard a lot of those in surgery.
But she was not an easy mom. As I said, she was frugal. She was also strict, a perfectionist (majored in English grammar), and did not have much time for nurturing. Then in middle age she became a dedicated alcoholic, and never got into recovery.
This Mothers Day finds her two months short of her 95th birthday. About six years ago she developed dementia. The good side of dementia is she’s forgotten all about drinking. She’s been sober for 6 years and doesn’t know it.
She’s more fun now. She’s become very loving and appreciative in her current state.
Amazingly, she still has her sense of humor. When I tell her a joke, she knows if it’s funny or not. She also loves to sing along to old songs and remembers an uncanny number of lyrics. She still sings on key and can do harmony too. It’s all still there in her brain somewhere.
So as soon as I finish this, I’m headed over there to sing a few songs with her, and give her a shoulder rub. Who knows, maybe this is her last Mothers Day.
She wasn’t an easy mother, but she gave me life and a lot more, and I’m grateful.
Big Thanks to all of you mothers!
And as always, thanks for reading.
© 2018 Greg Tamblyn
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