Remembering Mother

“The woman was a saint” is a phrase often used to describe one’s mother.

Saints are boring. Are children brought up by saints happier, saner and more confident as adults? I wonder.

 Mother was not a saint; she was difficult; in fact, she pissed off a lot of people.

She could be tactless and inconsiderate one minute and comforting and thoughtful the next. Strong willed and high-spirited, she did not bend; she saw compromise as a sign of weakness. Mother provided many opportunities for personal growth and developing skills in self-confidence.

She was beautiful and had a sense of entitlement that often accompanies beauty.

She dismissed unseemly behavior with a smile and a wave of her hand, “I’ve been that way all of my life” and that was the end of that.

She did not care about social customs; she created her own and followed them.

She did the usual mom things; read to me, baked cookies and sat up all night to finish hemming a prom dress. A teacher who made the unfortunate mistake of treating me unfairly received a scorching diatribe they were not likely to forget. Measles, mumps, and chickenpox were another matter. She got queasy taking care of the sick.

She was a walking contradiction. She hounded city hall until the city provided sanitation services for black homeowners yet practiced selective racism.

She played card games with her grandchildren and delighted in jeering when she beat them.

She braved harrowing rides on her granddaughter’s go-cart, yet refused to get on an airplane.

She discovered a needy and neglected elderly woman in her church and gave her money every Christmas. A suggestion that the woman required funds before Christmas was ignored.

I don’t remember her telling me she loved me, but I knew that she did. It was not until  I reached adulthood, that I realized it is o.k. to acknowledge there were many times when I did not like her, but I always loved her.

Happy Mother’s Day and I miss you.


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