Monday, March 14, 2011

Remembering Mom, 2011

Today would have been my mom's 70th birthday. I think about her almost every day, almost thirty years after her death - not in a sad way, necessarily, but mostly just in passing- when something happens or I see something that reminds me of her.

There are so many memories that I hold on to – it is likely that I would remember many of these things anyway, but I think I hold on to them tighter because they are what I have had to remind me of her, and to keep her a part of me.

My mom wasn’t an outgoing person, as far as personality goes – she was quiet and introverted. My sister Ann, who was only four when Mom passed away, reminds me of her the most, from what I can remember. Ann and Susan’s looks, their profiles and mannerisms (and their body type – that darn thin frame!) are so similar to her.

But I see her in so many other things, as well - her love of music has stayed with my brother and me - Rob has learned to play the guitar that she had when we were little, and he is so talented. I love the piano, and can still remember many of the songs she played for us in the evenings mom and her side of the family.

I didn't go back and read what I've blogged about her in the last couple of years. I have probably written about some of these things before, but they are some of my favorite memories, and it is nice to remember them again tonight:

  • We moved to St. Clair when I was five, and our house had a library with bookshelves and the grand piano that Mom found and stripped and refinished by hand. We grew up calling it the "music room”, and I remember sitting with Mom at the piano many times, while she would play and we would all sing. That room is probably the one that I remember most from my childhood, and my favorite room growing up. I still play the piano when I'm home for holidays, sometimes with the lights off, just enjoying the solitude and the music.

  • We had a huge garden, with green beans, peas, cucumbers, tomatos, cantaloupe, potatoes, AND strawberries, my favorite. Probably even more kinds than that, but I can’t remember. She canned so many things, and made strawberry jam, which is a favorite of mine to this day. Plus there was a flower garden down at the bottom of the hill, with a million zinnias – always loved those.

  • Mom made most of our clothes, and our Barbies' clothes, too. Somewhere there’s a GREAT Halloween picture with me, Susan AND Robert dressed up in witch costumes that she made us for trick-or-treating (Ok, Rob – we’ll call yours a WARLOCK costume!).

  • Her love for reading - she took us to the library in our home town every week, and I would always come home with stacks of books (30+ years later, that hasn't changed for me).

  • I remember when she sat me down and read me a book and explained to me about being adopted, when I was four - I still have the book.

  • She loved to cook and bake, and had so many wonderful recipes - we had homemade bread every day - and would actually consider it a treat to have to have store-bought bread every once in a while!

I think about Ann and Rob reading this... I know Ann was so little, and she wishes she could remember more. I was just lucky that I was the oldest, and can remember some things - I know Ann remembers the doughnuts she used to make on the weekends.... but does anyone else remember when Mom made liver burgers one time, trying to fool us into thinking they were regular hamburgers? Or the chocolate chip cookies she made so often, that had grated carrots as one of the main ingredients? Those were awesome, and we never did mind that there were carrots!

But some of my treasured things that I think Mom must have liked, I've really just made guesses about... she had a Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits album, and Ann has it now... I'm assuming she must have really liked them, enough to buy the album, and hearing them always reminds me of her - but were they really one of her favorites? Or what did she think about some of the books/authors that were on her shelves?
Not that those are "her", or even the things that really matter; they're just some of the little things that we lost when we lost her... that "not knowing" anything after 1982. There are so many things I'd like to know, her thoughts or feelings about things that I wouldn't have known to ask about at age 11 and will never know.

I think that's probably the biggest thing that hits home with me now is that I am getting close to the age that Mom was. I think about Jace, and how he is now just a year older than I was when my mom passed away... I don't feel like I could have possibly been as young as he is now, but I was. NOT that I'm planning on going anywhere in the near (or distant) future, but still - if that were the case, have I given him enough to remember me by? Have I given him the good stuff?
I know my mom did that for us, and I hope that Jace could say the same about me. Of course I've made some mistakes along the way, I'm definitely not as patient as I could be, and on and on. But for the most part I think I've been a good parent and role model so far to Jace, and I'm very proud of him. Thanks for your part in that, Mom, in what you taught us and gave us in your time here. We love you and miss you, today and always.


Tara said...

Nance I always enjoy hearing about what life was like for you guys before we arrived. I've heard most of those stories before but I enjoyed reading them again. And I really enjoyed the pics. It's funny to see you not much older than Isaac. And holy smokes that picture of you and your mom in the kitchen: I almost mistook your mom for Ann. Even the look on her face is like one Ann makes. Crazy!!
I feel really lucky to have become part of your family.


LB said...

Nance - This was a great post! Love - Luke B