I am usually so busy being a Mama that I don't take time to honor my Mama. This is a shame really. I talk to my Mama a lot. At least once a week, and at least an hour -- sometimes two. It's one of those conversations that ends up being mighty one sided. I tell all the exploits of life with the tribe, not to mention the frustrations, the delicate emotional balances and the angst of whether or not I am doing anything right. We laugh and laugh and then I hang up. My kids always ask what we talk about and I say "Not much." Then they will say "How's Grandma?" To my shame my response is usually, "Uh ... good... I think.. I told most of our stories." Needless to say my Mama is a good listener. So here's the story of My Mama.
She grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado and can tell real stories about how she walked a mile to school in the snow. And how the Dr. that delivered her was paid in chickens. She grew up with three older brothers and spent a lot of time reading the Farmer's Almanac.
She wasn't much of a shrinking violet though. In her 20's she entered the foreign service and became a clerk-typist at the American Embassy in Israel. (Oh, how I love to tell this story -- it sounds like movie!!) While there she met a handsome (of course) marine guard. His ploy to get my mom was to call her all the time asking her how to spell words for his reports. It sounds goofy, but nobody can beat my mom at a game of scrabble without thinking real hard - she can SPELL. And there were no spell checker, word processing programs in those days. Anyway, their foreign romance grew and my father left for the US with a promise to marry my mom when she got back to the States and he did not leave her with a ring as a promise -- he simply promised to mail her one later. I think she took a lot of ribbing for that -- who would fall for that from some marine?
Ah, but he was true to his word and mailed her a ring. When she returned they were married the day after Christmas when my Dad had leave. They had two boys and then me (the only girl!). We spent our young lives moving every 2 1/2 years as my Dad's assignments changed. He even spent the better part of my first year in Vietnam.
Growing up with my Mom was a fun time. She may not have been crafty or up for many parties, but she let us do a lot of stuff. We were allowed to keep various critters. We had toads in the window wells that we feed with hamburger meat, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and even a pet duck. We spent hours playing games like monopoly and scrabble (of course). She taught me my first cross stitch and I can remember making a lot of tree ornaments.
She also just hung on through a lot of years of hard kid raisin'. I usually had a loud opinion and went through one terrible rebellious time in my teens. She just kept hanging on. She pushed me to join the swim team, hoping the physical exercise, change of friends and structured time would help me out (it did). After all that, she still allowed me to take a one year foreign exchange trip to Argentina when I was 17. It was one of the most pivotal times of my life.
When I came back and got ready for college she must have thought I flipped my lid again. I kept changing majors and living arrangements from dorm to apartment and then came home complaining about how I was "done with it all." She helped me dump everything and move to Denver to go to a 6 month secretarial school. I have a better perspective now about how she must have received that phone call announcing my intentions to get married. WHAT? I hardly sounded ready to settle down on a mature life.
Once again she came to Denver and spent one whirlwind weekend planning my entire wedding. That's right -- one weekend. No 6 months of planning for us we did in it in ONE WEEKEND. We had so much fun doing it, I would do it again! To be honest she was a bit circumspect about this marriage, but she didn't say much after we got married. She still listened to my hour long conversations (nothing's changed). She gave counsel or caution, but never butted in or had emotional tirades.
I sat with her at my Dad's bedside after his open heart surgery, and a few years later as he lay dying from cancer. What I remember about those days at Dad's bed were how much we laughed. We talked and talked and drank way too much coffee. As we went through the planning for and the actual funeral I can remember telling her I was worried about her and she said, "Oh, honey I have already done my grieving for the last six months." I have never forgotten it. She did not deny that he was dying -- she didn't neglect to face it and grieve it, but she grieved it with my father.
She has rescued me more times than I can count, like coming to help with the tribe when I had a hysterectomy and started major emotional therapy with one of my kids in the same week. Can you imagine stepping into that landmine. Come she did -- and cooked dinner every night.
She still comes to spend a lot of time at our house. Either for holidays or vacations. The whole tribe wishes we could get her to give up her time in the land of twinkle and shine and move to Ohio. We haven't sold her on this idea yet, but we will keep trying.
So that's my Mama. Happy Mother's Day Mom -- I'll call you!