Monday, August 31, 2009

Now Would I Fain Some Merthes Make . . .

. . . . All only for my lady sake,
When her I see;
But now I am so far from her
It will not be.

Today is my mother's birthday. And I have (as per our usual custom) not yet sent the package I've had sitting on my bedroom floor for lo these many days.

My mother deserves better. My mother, who raised seven children who all still like her and then squared and cubed her omniscience by finishing a PhD in psychology. My mother who has taught me all the naughty jokes I know. My mother who has designed and built a house, who can put up bead board and refinish furniture, who has painted murals on our walls. My mother who always finds things she likes about the people she works with - even the most depressed and the dangerous. My mother who counsels me for free by phone and has been my first and longest friend.

I realized today I'm going to have to cut - from the chapter I'm working on - this bit which is, let's admit, autobiographical (just this part, because of course the novel itself is ENTIRELY FICTIONAL - which is why I'm going to have to cut this part, it being not quite so fictional . . . except the rappelling which was symbolic . . . )
An earliest memory: . . . Outside it is early, the sky exciting. Mom is walking up to the house with Dad after an early turn at irrigation—heavy gloves and boots, shovels on their shoulders, laughing and bending their heads together, towering against the red sky.

She is a tall, long-legged woman.  Square shoulders and strong, long-fingered hands.  Enthusiastic walker, hiker, a climber of trees. She could do everything mothers were supposed to do: bake and sew, bandage our knees, kiss our tear-stained cheeks.
But she also took us rappelling. Emptied mousetraps. Taught us how to stand on our heads.
When anything broke around the house, she went at it with her kitchen drawer full of tools, taking it apart and putting it back together. Sometimes it would work again. Always her face beamed with pleasure at fitting the pieces back together.

When she spoke in church, her chin lifted high, her perfect teeth so white, taking her turn at giving the sermon the way we do, we children would sit in the congregation sneaking smiles at each other, glad that everyone could see her and hear her warm voice, clear and deep. Thinking it must do them as much good as it did us to have her there before us.
And oh, I am glad she's been always there before me. 

And Mother dear, for all the things I've never thanked you for ~

For those pink flannel pajamas with the tiny rosebuds you sewed for me when I was sick with fever during junior high and especially the way you brought them in and folded them up on the clean white counter, waiting for me after my bath.

For rubbing calamine lotion on my back when I had chicken pox in third grade.

For the slices of perfectly ripe peach you brought into me on a little plate when I was first nursing my first baby.

For that paperback Pride and Prejudice you picked up at the store for me one day when I was ten, tossing it to me as I sat at the kitchen table, "Here, you might like this."

For making me make my own phone calls and for sitting quiet, if white-knuckled, when I learned to drive.

For the hours of tearful conversations and the years of listening to my dreams.

And for the embroidered sheets on the bed upstairs when I came to visit last month - because you know how I adore them even though I would never buy (nor launder) anything but plain white sheets for myself.

Thank you for being who (yourself)
And what (a woman) you are.

Vat a vooman!

Oh, and also for that time one of your sons gasped, "I just realized this is a matriarchy."

"Well, yes," you laughed, shrugging.

"Not really," I interposed, full of postgraduate knowingness. "That's not really the term that . . . "

"Isn't it?" you looked at me, lifting your eyebrows.

When she is merry, then I am glad;
When she is sorry, then I am sad;
Good reason why,

I wish today I were there to tell you all this in person.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear, get me a headshrinker, I fear My head is about to swell! Dear, fond daughter who recalls her childhood with great charity. Love you, Mom

Melissa said...

You write truth so well. That's the mom I know and love, too!

Mac said...

Oh YAY! I didn't know you have a blog, and now that I do I am adding it to my reading list. I LOVED reading this. You are a GREAT writer and I loved learning about your mother, through your eyes. Fantastic and I smiled the whole way through.

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