Missed chance noted on Mother’s Day
As usual, I'm a little late reflecting on the holiday just past, which in this case is Mother's Day. It also fell on the week I didn't write, but still I found myself recalling memories of my Mom just when I thought every memory had been plumbed to its depth.
Looking back at previous Mother's Day columns, I found I have written about not only my mother, but also other women who have been influential in my life. Most of them were mothers, but some of them gave birth to dreams and professions, as well as -- or instead of -- children.
Browsing through several articles about Mother's Day, I came across one by Garrison Keillor that is a hilarious column in which he enumerated the reasons why mom is deserving of more than "cheap chocolates or a bouquet of daisies marked down 50 percent at the convenience store." His idea is that every Mom is deserving of a sonnet.
This sent me to my dictionary to find the proper definition of a sonnet. Webster's says a sonnet is "a 14-line poetic form usually made up of an octave and a destet embodying the statement and the resolution of a single theme." Now is that clear?
My suggestion -- since I still haven't a clue just what a sonnet is -- is that at some time everyone sit down and write a memory of his/her mom. Boys and girls do this every year in grade school until they reach those terrible teens when a card composed of a few lines reminds mom just how lucky she is to have them with their names scrawled at the bottom.
The nice part of getting older is that sometimes you have a yen to leave something behind. A few lines written to Mom or about her -- while she is still here or not -- are a voice that will come from the past to remind us of who she was and where we came from.
Even if these few lines get tucked away lovingly in an old recipe book or a Bible, they will be precious to mom now and later to you.
With that in mind, I recalled a few more long forgotten memories of my own mother.
As a small child, I remember her as small and dark with a thick braid that sometimes fell down her back, but was usually wrapped around her head. She also occasionally gazed out the window at nothing and did not always answer, which often made me anxious.
She was an excellent housekeeper, and on good days, she would laugh and make me Campbell's chicken noodle soup or a BLT for lunch. But on other days, she cried and I never knew the reason.
In her later years, we learned she had suffered from depression most of her life. But she was also plucky and funny and smart. After caring for my father and my grandparents before their deaths, she came to live in Eudora where she spent many happy days working at the library, writing a book column for this paper and sitting with Mattie Kindred and her Methodist friends quilting through long winter days.
She also had a fetish about clean children. I remember every Saturday as a small child being laid out on the kitchen counter with my head in the sink to get my weekly shampoo and vinegar rinse. My elbows -- which were always full of ground-in dirt -- were also a source of concern for her. I remember occasionally they got a good scrubbing with Bon Ami -- an old bathroom gritty cleaner.
Voiding the ritual weekly ordeal was tricky and feigning illness was always a good ploy.
When I had been particularly bratty and in need of sympathy as a distraction, I would swear I had just broken my arm. If she refused to make a proper sling for me (I was especially into slings at that time), I would concoct one of my own from a white tea towel tied around my neck and pinned around the arm with a safety pin. This would garner some sympathy from the other mothers in the neighborhood, but seldom worked on mom or with the roving band of neighborhood bad boys who were my only companions in those days.
My children got the best of Gramma Izzie during the time she spent with us while they were growing up in Eudora. She often cooked lemon pie for them, sewed dresses and helped with English themes.
Most family gatherings are still sparked by a memory of her from each of us who knew her well and love her still.
So get busy and write a sonnet or at least your memories of mom. You've got less than 365 days to get ready for next Mother's Day.