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Mother Knows Best?
I love my mom. She is an amazingly strong woman. She raised four children and worked in the family business for twenty-five years at a time when women were not employed. She had this power that I knew was passed down from generation to generation; my great grandmother, my grandmother, mother, me and my daughters. And that power was mixed with stories of old women, cooking, and my mother’s worries and fears for her family…so I might add.
Mom married young. She met my father when she was fourteen and never looked back. She fed the baby with Karo syrup and milk for formula, changed cloth diapers and plastic pants, cleaned us up after we played in the mud all day, got all four kids, her husband and herself ready for church every Sunday. , and it also fell. A newborn brother of mine came down the church basement stairs in her arms. She kept him safe and sound as she flew down. She didn’t know it at the time but she had broken her leg. She now walks with a slight limp where she had noticed in her later years that she had recovered from the disease. This may sound like most mothers in days gone by, but when she was eight years old, she was taking care of her mother and even cooking for her baby brother. They thought that the mother was pregnant but after two years and no baby, but the belly kept getting bigger, she got much worse. She had a water tumor that weighed more than fifty pounds. She didn’t trust the doctors at the time, everyone hoped that she would just ‘snap’ out of it. Her mother and grandmother took care of the house. At the age of nine, Mom worked in a sheep factory to support the family. Eventually her mother had to have surgery but she couldn’t be moved so the surgery was done at home. While Mom was at school, she wasn’t sure if her mother would even be alive when she returned that day. Her mother lost seventy pounds on that first day and was later hospitalized.
After that, the mother returned to a ‘normal’ life, but internally she began to build her own understanding of life and that understanding was carried over to the upbringing of her children.
Mom and Dad have lived with Lee and I since Peanut was born. Peanut is now almost thirteen years old and has been lucky enough to be raised by two generations of women.
I laugh now at some of the things my mother used to tell me and I was right. I’ve seen some of the mother’s wisdom born out of fear and needing to know all the answers even if she doesn’t.
I came last. I was the child of the family. Mom was so excited that I was having a girl. Mother had a hard time with me during childbirth, but why shouldn’t she? Her leg was broken and she was unconscious. He tells the story every year on my birthday, “You didn’t come out. You were stuck. The doctor used force and everything. The doctor said there was nothing else he could do and they prepared me for surgery. I cried. “God, Universe, Angels… whoever is there, just give her one! Then I yelled, “I’m your mother and you better listen to me…get out…NOW!” She said at that moment I walked out as if I heard what she said. She said from then on I always wanted to stay inside the physical world.
We get along famously. Like a couple of girlfriends attached at the hip. We have a ball when we go out on the town and eat Chinese food together. It takes my arm to get from here to there. He won’t use a smile and won’t go to any store that doesn’t have a basket to lean on. He doesn’t want anyone to think he can’t pull any weight in his eighties.
He likes to overcomplicate a simple experience. It doesn’t come from wanting to be overly complicated; it comes from not wanting to ‘take you out’ in a way. If we decide to eat somewhere, he asks over and over again if I want to go somewhere else, “We don’t have to go there. We can go here if you want. I mean, Chinese sounds good but if it doesn’t work out It’s good for you.” …
“Come on mom. I like Chinese.”
“So do I, but you probably don’t feel it today even though I love him. Your dad loves Chinese. We can always go with him instead of bringing him into town for a doctor’s appointment.”
As we drive, he grabs the handle and yells, “Oh!” every few minutes. Her vision is bad and that eye makes things seem closer than they are.
“Where are we going? You’ve never gone this way before,” he says as if I’m doing something wrong.
“We always go this way mom.”
“Well… I guess I’m just being stupid then. I don’t know where we are. Are you sure you…”
She insists on buying me candy when I help her like I’m a little girl. This totally blows me away. Don’t get me wrong, I love candy but I don’t eat a lot of it anymore, especially since I lost weight, but that doesn’t matter to mom. He always tells me that I’m too skinny and if I lose more weight I’ll look bigger than I am and that I’ll look stupid.
“That’s not healthy, Bethie.”
“Bethie? I made pinto beans with ham and bacon in them. Are you going to eat them?”
She apparently doesn’t remember that I haven’t had pinto beans since I was a kid. They gave me stomach ache then and still do.
“You don’t like my beans, do you? Well… you know beans don’t make you fat? They just give people gas… that’s it. I figured out how to keep beans from messing with you. knowledge.”
I feel a laugh rising in my throat. I agree. I don’t want to hurt her feelings.
“How is that?”
“You soak them in baking soda.”
“Did you know that vinegar cures EVERYTHING? If you just drink a cup of vinegar every day you won’t get cancer.”
I don’t say a word. She had cancer and is in remission. He drinks a glass of vinegar every day.
“Betty? Do you know what drives me crazy? When your dad sneezes. I’m afraid he’s going to hang his head one day. You know…that happens sometimes.”
“Bethie? I always heard that as a man got older he lost his passion. You know what I mean by desire, don’t you?”
I shake my head hoping he won’t go further with the subject.
“He STILL gets my bottom. Can you believe it?”
Yes I can believe it. Since his coup, he has always been in front of all of us.
“You know… I love that old coot. I wouldn’t take a million for her, but I wouldn’t take a penny for another one.”
I must say that living with my parents is a wonderful experience. They make me laugh every day of my life, whether it’s on purpose or not.
I know that all her worries, all her stories, all her complaints; all her questions are a part of who she is. And I will take it all in just a few more years with this wonderful woman I call ‘Mom’.
As I cut the guinea pigs breakfast, mom comes up behind me and gives me a big hug, “I love you baby girl.”
“I love you too mom.”
“Can I eat pork?”
I hand her the tray full of vegetables. It’s one of her favorite things to do. She walks into the guinea pigs room with that cute little lap, lifts the hall into the air, and giggles like a little girl as they reach up on their little star legs.
My mother…one in a million…I wouldn’t trade her for the world.
Please check out my profile page, where you will find my ‘My Perfect Life’ fan page on Facebook. Daily posts! http://www.facebook.com/myimperfectlyperfectlife
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