Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gratitude Attitude

Junie and Marty, 1950

Five things my mom taught me:
  1. How to make a bed. Mom never jumped out of bed and made it. Instead, she pulled all the covers back, opened the window and let everything air out until after breakfast. Then she smoothed the bottom sheet, straightened and re-tucked the top sheet, folded it over the blankets, fluffed the pillows, and tucked a clean, ironed handkerchief under Dad's pillow.
  2. How to make potato salad. Boil the potatoes with the skins on, peel while hot, dice, add celery, hardboiled eggs, green onions and green peppers. Mix enough Miracle Whip with 1/2 cup real whipped cream and a squirt of French's mustard, and stir it all together while the potatoes are still warm. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with paprika and chill for several hours.
  3. How to redecorate on a budget. Once, when Mom wanted a bigger bedroom, she took the doors off Dad's closet, emptied it, painted the inside, and turned it into an alcove for the bed. While we had the Hong Kong flu, she and I used fabric paint to change the white flowers on the gray couch to pink.
  4. How to remodel a blouse. Mom always had a needle and thread with her. One summer she bought two silk blouses and some buttons while we were on vacation. Back in our motel room she went to work. On the black blouse, she replaced plain black buttons with rounded white pearl buttons. Folding back the cuff of the sleeve, she sewed buttons back-to-back all the way through (on both sides) so they looked like cuff-links. For the white blouse she tucked the excess sleeve material under the top of the cuff and stitched it by hand, then replaced cheap white buttons with sparkly ones that looked like diamonds.
  5. How to look cute. Mom dolled up for my dad: lipstick and a squirt of perfume when he came home from work, high heels when they went out to dinner, a pretty robe for late-night TV. She wore hats and jewelry to luncheons, remade dresses when they went out of style, and knew what trends were flattering. And her kids were every bit as chic.
Mom, Polly, Marty

See what I mean?

June, queen of the ball

Mom sparkled. Although she was aware of her imperfections (crooked teeth, bumpy nose, bow-legs, "weird eyes" my uncle once told her) she didn't concentrate on them. She smiled most of the time. Sure, she got cross, spanked and yelled, cried . . . all the usual stuff, but what I learned from my mom is that a lot of flaws are forgotten when a woman smiles.

I've never tucked a hankie under a pillow or made a decent potato salad; I inherited her crooked teeth, bow legs, and spanking technique, but I can say this: thinking of Mom always makes me smile.


Shelley said...

I love this Oma. You have such a way with words. Moms are so darn special aren't they?

Diane said...

I think my husband's grandma used that same potato salad recipe.

I thought of you last night as I read the introduction to David McCullough's Brave Companions. He talks about writing and the people and things he writes about. You should read at least that intro - you'll see yourself in it, I think. (I'm just starting the book.)

al + sar said...

I love this! And I love all of the old pictures.

polly said...

mom taught us alot. i love to reinvent clothes and i never once felt guilty when i fabric painted her dining room chairs that i inherited, i knew she would approve!

Miranda said...

Your mom sounds like a mix of both of my grandmas. Any time I would try to make the bed right after I got up after sleeping over at grandma's she would come in and pull back the covers to "let everything air out."

Hil said...

"a lot of flaws are forgotten when a woman smiles" - beautiful! Thank you for sharing such beautiful memories of your mother.

mama jo said...

mom did teach us so much..when i read the part about potato salad, i thought, 'where was i?' so, i was glad to hear yours doesn't turn out...we were really lucky to have her as our mom...

Tom and Julie said...

I didn't realize mom had bow legs!

Susan Adcox said...

Lovely post. I saw a lot of my mom in it, and I bet lots of your readers saw their moms.

My mother taught me the proper way to clean up the kitchen. You're not through until you've wiped down the stove and used Comet on the sink! She taught me to bake pies and iron shirts. I still bake pies.

Abby said...

Love this post. It's fun to hear your memories of grama.