Tag Archives: memories

Mama’s Girl

Mama’s Girl
When I got home from work on Monday there was a package at the door.  This isn’t unusual because my husband gets a lot of packages delivered to the house for work.  However, this time it was for me and it was from my Mom.   I opened the box and it made me cry. This is what was inside.  She has this set of bowls and when she brought something to my house in one of them I told her I liked it. So being the thoughtful person she is, she went out and got me a set and sent them.  The bowls didn’t make me cry though, her note did.   “Life is going way too fast for me. I wish we could spend more time together. Reading your blog has made me feel closer to you. You are very talented. You are in my prayers every day.”
 
Her letter made me cry because I am 47 years old and my mother still worries about me and takes her concerns to the heavens every night. I cried because I miss her too.  I know people who live a lot further than an hour away from their loved ones so I shouldn’t complain, but sometimes that distance feels enormous. I cried because I am touched she is reading my blog and that it makes her feel closer to me. I cried because my whole life I have always wanted to make her happy and have her approval.  I know that I’ve done a lot of things over the years that broke her heart.  I have wandered away from the beliefs that are still very much a part of her life. I don’t visit as much as I should. I don’t call as often as I need to. I am not the world’s best daughter.
 
 I am however a very lucky daughter. My mother showed me by example how to be a survivor.  She taught me that life is ten percent what happens to you and ninety percent how you handle it. She told me that when something bad happens to us the only choice we have is to pick ourselves up and go on. That advice has gotten me through some heart breaking experiences of my own.  I can’t say how many times I’ve opened my mouth and her words come tumbling out. I guess one day my children will do the same.
 
Mine wasn’t an easy childhood. I think my mother still suffers guilt for the things we went without. I wish she wouldn’t.  The intangible things she did give us far outweigh anything material that we didn’t have. I grew up singing a hymn in chuch that goes:
 
There is beauty all around
When there’s love at home;
There is joy in ev’ry sound
When there’s love at home.
Peace and plenty here abide,
Smiling sweet on ev’ry side.
Time doth softly, sweetly glide
When there’s love at home.
Love at home, love at home;
Time doth softly, sweetly glide
When there’s love at home
 
My mother took every word of this song seriously.  She did not tolerate meanness or teasing among us kids.  We were to love one another whether we liked it or not. Her insistance on family harmony has resulted in adult siblings who love each other deeply and are there for each other no matter what.  That is an accomplisment to be proud of.
 
I’ve been saying since I started writing this blog that I was doing it for my grandchildren.  I figured telling my stories and sharing my sometimes odd outlook on life would be something that could carry me in to the future.  What I didn’t take in to account was how sharing these stories would also take me back. Back to my childhood, back to the people and places that formed me. And when I look back, the one constant, the rock of my life has been my sweet mother.
 
Thank you for always being there Mom. Thank you for your example, for the lessons, for the prayers and for the bowls. 
 
I love them.

Bull in the China Shop

Bull in the China Shop
I make my husband nervous when we are in antique shops.  It seems that every time I touch something I knock something else down or something falls to the floor.  He gasps and says "Honey be careful!" Once I dropped the lid to something and his eyes got big as saucers as it clanked around on the ground. I said "I'm sure they are used to people dropping stuff all the time."  He didn't look soothed.  Sometimes he just walks away from me because he doesn’t want to be around when I break something.  I haven't  broken anything yet but I’m sure that it’s only a matter of time. I guess I’m not graceful and can’t delicately lift a plate off a shelf without upsetting the things around it.  I have a domino effect on stuff. I pick one up and three fall over. I am the proverbial bull in a china shop.
I think my real issue is I’m not happy with just looking at what’s on top, what can easily be seen.  I like to dig around. I like to poke underneath and behind.  I like to look for the treasure that might be hidden underneath something else. When you do that things get jostled and you’re going to make a little noise.  While I hate that I embarass my husband, just like with people, if you look beneath the surface you are sure to find something wonderful.
This past weekend we threw together a last minute out of town get away to visit thrift, antique and junk shops.  We hadn’t been away in a long while and we needed to hit the road.  Turns out we really needed to hit the road because a bad storm knocked out the electricity at our house and in 100 degree weather we needed to find air conditioning and fast. We headed south to Richmond Virginia, capital of the confederacy and home to Virginia Commonwealth University.  As it turns out also home to some really cool thrift and antique shops.  I’ve always been a thrifter but since becoming a Pinterest fanatic I’ve also become interested in Upcycling. Upcycling means taking something old or useless and converting it in to a new product that is useful or has a higher value.  In other words you take some old piece of junk you find in a thrift shop and you make it in to something cool to put in your house.  My mission this weekend was to find a few of those old pieces of junk.
What we found was this place.  We liked it so much we went twice. I came home with a solid wood antique window shutter for $12.  Not exactly sure what I’m going to make with it but I know it’s going on a wall when I figure it out.  My husband is building an antique tool collection and he bought an old hand saw and file for about $5. I got this old cookie crock.  It was missing the lid but otherwise in perfect condition.  The thing is heavy…solid.  It spoke to me.  It said “You are always making cookies…you need me in your kitchen.”  It cost $4.  I have repurposed it to hold my kitchen utensils.  We found lots of old goodies for not very much money.  Call me a simple woman but I got so much pleasure from digging through what basically amounts to other people’s old stuff. If you haven’t heard George Carlin’s routine about “Stuff” you must check this out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac
This place smelled like my grandma's attic which was one of my favorite places to hang out as a child. I  found things that were familiar…things I had around me when I was a child. I would pick up something and say “My grandma had a mirror like that” or "My mother had a pan just like this." I couldn’t pass a Pyrex bowl without picking it up. I’m not quite sure why but there must be some deeply seated memory attachment to it.  I found a red toy  chicken from a farm set we had as children and I remembered playing with those  Little People toys for hours and hours with my brothers and sisters. I wish like anything I still had my Fisher Price  doll house.  I can remember every detail of the thing from the fireplace painted on the living room wall to the thin little foam mattresses on each plastic little bed. I remember the daughters braids and the way the dogs ears stood up. I loved that little people family.  They had a perfect little house and a perfect little life. 
I'm not sure why I'm so drawn to this old stuff lately other than I'm getting older myself.  I wonder 50 years from now what will be important to my grandchildren and their children. What will they pick up and say "remember when Grandma used this?" The idea of a part of me sticking around in my belongings and in my stories makes me feel really happy.
 
Now I'm off to eBay to see if I can find myself one of these.

 

Good Mom

Good Mom
Dear Daughter,
Have I told you lately what an awesome mother I think you are?  After spending some extended time with your son recently I am amazed at how intelligent, well adjusted and happy he is.  I think that is in large part because of you.  You are such a good Mom. 
What I see you do so much better than I ever did is take every day moments and make them learning experiences.  Just the other day you guys went to the park and flew a kite.  You talked to him about wind and how it was necessary to lift the kite in to the sky.  You showed him how to run to get the kite off the ground.  He thought you guys were just playing and having fun but you were teaching him a science lesson.  I’ve heard you talk to him about nutrition and math and how things work.  You read to him all the time and answer his endless questions.   It’s not just the numbers and letters and shapes you’ve taught him that impress me.  It’s that you teach him about being nice and sharing and having compassion.  You are teaching him about character and integrity and he is only three years old. When the time comes, his kindergarten teacher is going to be very grateful to you for giving him such an amazing head start.
Sometimes I look back at pictures taken when you were little and I’m amazed at how young and exhausted I look.   I had two babies within a year and I was barely twenty years old.  I was overwhelmed and tired.  I remember I used to take you and your brother in the bedroom to play and I would lie down on the floor in front of the door.  I always started out playing with you but I knew that if I fell asleep you would have to climb over me to get out and I would wake up.  I relied heavily on my mother for advice and help.  If it wasn’t for her and the fact that you and Nick were both such good babies I may not have survived. 
Parenting is a “learn as you go” experience.  I made plenty of mistakes when you were younger.  Every Mother makes a mistake now and then.  You’ve heard the story of how I rolled off the bed when I was a baby so my inexperienced and young mother put me back up on the bed only to have me roll off again.  One of my biggest mistakes was when you fell out of bed in the middle of the night and hurt yourself.  I think you were about four at the time.  You were crying and crying that your arm hurt and it didn’t seem like anything was broken so after a quick examination and some children’s Tylenol I sent you back to bed.  The next morning your shoulder was swollen and you could barely move your arm.  A trip to the emergency room confirmed my worst fear that you had broken your collar bone.  You had broken a bone and I made you go back to bed.  For months I felt like the worlds worst mother. You had to wear this hideous vest thing for 8 weeks but you took it in stride and didn’t let it change your happy nature.  Even this picture says so much about who you are.  You weren’t just showing me your brace, you were modeling it. You have an innate ability to make the most of any situation.   And now with mothering, you have accepted this challenge with gusto.  You aren’t just raising your son, you are growing him in to the best person he can be.

 

Keep up the good work my daughter.  When it gets tough always remember that there is nothing more important than what you are doing.  And when you need a break I’ve got your back.  Mind you I’ll be sending back a child hopelessly spoiled and stuffed with cookies, but that’s MY job and I take it pretty seriously too. 

I have a plaque in the craft room, I’m sure you’ve seen it.  It says “Here’s to good women.  May we know them.  May we be them.  May we raise them.”   I sure know a whole lot of good women.  God knows I try every day to be one.  And most importantly, one of the greatest accomplishments of my life is that I’ve raised one.  I think you are amazing.
Love
Mom

What the what?

What the what?
My son has this tattoo on his forearm.   
Why you ask? Why would he do that? That’s a question I’ve been wrestling with for over a year.
The short story is he’s an idiot.
The long and true story is that he wants to duplicate the tattoos his cousin Bobby had including this one.  I told him that just because Bobby had it doesn’t make it a good idea but I’m not sure it’s right to speak ill of the dead.
Bobby was killed three years ago in a drunk driving accident.  His friend lost control of the vehicle they were riding in and wrapped it around a tree.  They were both killed instantly.  It remains a tragedy of unspeakable proportion. My brother lost his only child.  My son lost his childhood best friend.  He was only twenty one.
So Alex wants to memorialize his beloved cousin by recreating his tattoos.  He never wants to forget someone that he loved.  I understand that.  I respect it.  I am not against tattoos but this one has been hard to swallow.  I think because it is offensive to many people, it’s hard for me to accept that it’s now a permanent part of his body.  When my brother saw it for the first time he literally said “WTF Alex?”
It’s pretty common knowledge what WTF stands for.  Even my mother knows. In my quest to make this go down easier I’ve convinced myself that there are lots of other things it can stand for.  What do you think of these?
Why the Frown?
Where’s the Food?
Well that’s Fabulous
What’s that Friend?
Wow that’s fun
Welcome to Facebook
Write to File
What's This For?
Who the Freak?
Where's the Fridge?
Where's the Fish?
What's This Foolishness
Where's the Fire?
We’re Tasting Frosting
Work Time Fun
Welcome to Finland
 
As much as I’d like to think it stood for something else I know in heart what it really means.  It means my nephew is gone way too soon.  It means my son has to deal with his loss in the best possible way he knows how.  And when I honestly think about it I’m inclined to say WTF myself.  In this situation….what else can you say?