Sunday, May 9, 2010

Smiling at Mom

Junie, 1940

"When mamma smiled, beautiful as her face was,
it grew incomparably more lovely,
and everything around seemed brighter."
—Leo Tolstoy

My mom had the cutest smile. A crooked side tooth slightly covered her front tooth—she called it her personality tooth. There was a bump on her nose, inherited from her dad, but she never talked about fixing anything. She was satisfied with herself. I think that's why I'm satisfied with myself. I learned that smiling was the most important thing.

Mom wore pedal pushers and blouses during the day, but when it was time for my dad to come home, she always cleaned up. She'd change into a skirt, fix her hair, and put on red lipstick and a squirt of perfume. It was like she had a date. I knew she loved him, and I could hardly wait to have someone like that in my life. They were married for 51 years before she died, and they always seemed like sweethearts.

Me, Polly, Tommy and Mom at Grand Canyon, 1958

"I am my mother's daughter...and although it's been years since I left home, her sayings form a perpetual long-playing record on my inner-ear turntable." —Carol Shields

A few things I still hear my mom say everyday:
  1. "The dishes aren't done until you sweep the floor and wipe off the top of the refrigerator."
  2. "Wipe off the faucets and dry the sink when you wash your hands."
  3. "Stand up straight."
  4. "I'm right here."
"You never will finish being a daughter . . .
You will be one when you're ninety."
—Gail Goodwin

I think about Mom every day. When I iron I remember how she sang On a Bicycle Built for Two, and Mairsie Doats. I remember the nurse cap and cape she made me, and how she'd put my arm in a sling with a dishtowel so I could play broken arm.

She walked to the Dairy Queen with us, pushing a stroller, to buy a chocolate dipped ice cream cone on summer days. We sat in the porch swing and she taught me to whistle and blow bubbles with Bazooka, while we waited for Dad to come home. She showed me how to play hopscotch and jacks, and use a hula hoop.

I never had a doubt that she believed in God, and she taught me that he answered our prayers. I wish I could hug her for Mother's Day and have a fun visit. Someday.

Mom, just before she died, 1997

"They always looked back before turning the corner, for their mother was always at the window to nod and smile, and wave her hand at them...the last glimpse of that motherly face was sure to affect them like sunshine." —Louisa May Alcott

I know she's still smiling.


mama jo said...

ahhh, that made me cry...we have the best would be fun to have a good visit...wish she was still here so i could give her a big hug...

Jerry Waxler said...

Wonderful portrait, and wonderful love affair. It's so perfect that you start the portrait with her flaws. Flaws make us human, and becoming more than our flaws makes us divine. Thanks. Your quotes and photos make a lovely reading experience.

Memory Writers Network

kenju said...

A lovely tribute, Oma. Happy Mother's Day to you!

polly said...

I'm sure she's always smiling at us. maybe a little concerned, but now has the perspective to know things will turn out ok. she was and always will be a lovely lady, and we were so blessed to have her as a mother.

al + sar said...

such a cute post, she was the best!

Sarah said...

We could learn some stuff from the past generations. I think our husbands would feel so special if we cleaned up and smelled nice when our husbands got home from work. Maybe I will try that this week.

Heather Scott Partington said...

What a beautiful post. I'm so impressed that you managed to do a full week of posts on motherhood, each with a special bit of insight. This is such a lovely tribute.