Saturday, May 12, 2007

Hallmark reports increase in profits, brunch sales up.

When people ask me about my mom I like to tell them about breakfast time. Mom was a nurse before she was a professional baker of cakes and loooong before she was the executive director of Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter. When I was just a wee thing in elementary school, mom worked on the medical floor of the hospital. Back then Woodstock, Virginia was still mostly a bedroom community – where people went to die. Frequently when we shuffled into the kitchen in the morning, still bleary-eyed from sleep, in search of the Frosted Flakes, mom would be there in her robe and slippers, sipping her coffee and reading the paper. Without looking up she’d say “Guess. Who. Died.” I learned quickly I was not expected to guess. She’d name some old person I’d never met. Then she’d do that little teeth-sucking noise and sigh and say “I’m so glad”. We knew she meant this person was some ancient patient at the hospital who had been suffering a great deal and she was relieved to know s/he had been freed from the pain of this mortal coil and was happy in heaven now. She never said that, though, and I suspect it was a bit disturbing to our friends who had slept over.

We kids all shared a bathroom so when mom wanted to make sure we were all informed of something, she’d leave us notes, sometimes on a large piece of poster board, on the bathroom mirror. The best note ever was the one she placed atop the beautifully clean and folded hand towels she’d put out for dinner guests we were entertaining that night. It said “touch these and I will kill you”. The note itself was unremarkable; she was always threatening to kill us. The thing that was so great about it was that she forgot to remove the note before our guests arrived. The towels remained untouched.

These are the types of things that I think of when I think of mom. Which is maybe a little strange because the specialized, surprise birthday cakes, kissed boo-boos, special Christmas gifts (like the year I got my cat, Holly), trips to the mall while singing to the soundtrack from The Music Man together, cookie baking, shrinky-dink making (back then, you had to use the oven in the kitchen, they didn’t come with their own little one), summer evenings on the front porch watching storms roll down the valley toward our house and sleep-over hosting almost certainly out number the death threats. Besides, a lot of the time she’d only threaten to break our arms.

Now I’m a mom, too. I’d always felt loved and included in my family, but it wasn’t until I first held my infant Kate that I realized how much my parents must love me. All at once I felt overwhelming guilt at having been such an asshole as a teenager and dread at the knowledge I held the seeds of just such an asshole in my arms…and I was already hooked. There is no way to return the favor my mom did me just by being my mom. The best I can do is try every day to be the kind of mom she's taught me to be. Already, I threaten to kill Kate & Sarah at least once a week. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, thanks!

8 comments:

Brooklyn Volunteer said...

Very cool and touching post. I feel quite honored that I had met your mom last June.

Farrago_NW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Farrago_NW said...

I have to admit I teared up a little at "seeds of an asshole." So, so beautiful. Happy Mother's Day!

PS Thanks for the death threat you emailed me. Like mother, like daughter. You'll be hearing from the FBI.

Boomin' Granny said...

Thanks for the lovely Mother's Day tribute, Lisa! I have to admit, it made me cry! (aren't you surprised???)
P.S.--that's funny but it's not!!

Fort Valley friend said...

Nice tribute to your mom. I was always made to feel welcome in your home by your parents, whom I still think of as "Mom and Pop P." :)

Kicking N. Screaming said...

Hey there, Fort Valley, welcome to blog-world!!

Fort Valley friend said...

I figured it's time for this to be a two way relationship, not just me reading and enjoying! :) I hate to admit how computer illiterate and am...it took a bit for me to figure out how to post a comment.

Ky woman said...

What a great tribute. I can certainly relate to a few of the things you said...like the "seeds"..in my own family....I really enjoyed the earlier pictures of your mom since I have only known her since she was our "mom" at SAS. Thanks for sharing....