Tuesday, May 6, 2014

What My Mother Told Me: A Mother's Day Tribute From Her Baby Boomer Daughter


Next Sunday is Mother's Day. 
 
I have spent a lot of Mother's Days alone with Hubby, since I live far from my children.  Likewise, my mother spent many a Mother's Day by herself because her children did not live nearby.
 
Isn't it strange, the older we get, the better our parents seem?  Wasn't it Mark Twain who said "My father was an amazing man.  The older I got, the smarter he got."
 
The irony is that now that I am in the latter part of my life, I sure wish my parents were still here.
I can't make it up to my mother now for all of those Mother's Days she spent without her children, but I can spend some time thinking about her, which I do every day.
And when I think of her, I can't help but be reminded of her whole repertoire of sayings that I certainly didn't appreciate at the time, but upon reflection, she knew what she was talking about.




"Stand up straight!"


She had probably just said that as I went off to the first day of school junior year.  Or I might have this expression because my Dad is taking my picture once again on the first day of school (we did this on every first day of school...thanks, Dad)

We lived about two blocks from the high school and she would yell "Stand up straight, Rosellen!" as I slouched off to school.  How humiliating.



"Smile, Rosellen."



Telling me to stand up straight was usually said in tandem with "Smile, Rosellen," which could also explain my expression in said picture. I hated her saying that to me, so that would then lead me to sigh and her to say, "Stop sighing." I hated her saying that too. At the time, I was certain I knew way more than she did, and if she would only recognize that fact, we would get along much better.

However, I have since learned that my Mother was right.  If you stand up straight and suck in your gut, you will look at least five pounds thinner, and I see now, of course, that I look much better when I smile.  The sighing part is still something I need to work on. 

But what is with that awful haircut in that picture? You can tell my Dad cut my bangs. 


"Don't borrow trouble."

This was her 1950's equivalent of "Don't worry, be happy."  Not a lot of talk about worries or feelings in my family.

But trying to stay positive is probably good advice.





"Only crazy people talk to themselves."

I think this was something she said when she was talking to herself.



"Don't worry about me.  You worry about yourself."

I can remember her saying this specifically as I dragged her up a particularly steep hill in San Francisco, where I lived right after graduating from college.  She would have been 62 at the time. 

"How are you doing, Mom? You OK back there?" I asked as I walked way ahead of her, leaving her in the dust, as I usually did, to which she replied, "You don't worry about me, you worry about yourself."

She prided herself in being able to keep up.  But she disliked it that I walked way ahead of her.  I don't really like it either when my kids do it.

However, I have since adopted her retort.




"Get your hair out of your face." 

It being the 60's and all, of course I had to have long hair.  She hated long hair, especially on brides and when wearing formal attire.  If I wanted that prom dress, I had to put the hair up.  If she had had her way, I would have been wearing my hair like this all of the time.




Do you know how many hours sitting in a salon, hair pins and ratting that went into getting my hair up like that?


"Watch him like a hawk!"

When I had my son, she said that all of the time.  I think it had something to do with her own mother telling her a child could drown in a bucket of water.  I never quite understood that story or her mother telling her such a thing, but in general my mother was a worrier.








Then it became "Watch her like a hawk!"



But again, good advice when you have little children running around.

And I did.  I was a Mama Hawk.







"You get what you pay for."

Both of my parents believed in this mantra.  They were middle class folks, but they always bought the best.  Whether it was a piece of furniture, a hat, clothes, they always went for quality. That's where my expensive taste comes from.  Sorry, Hubby.


I know, politically incorrect animal fur and bird feathers, but you get the idea.


  


"It's made of all good things...sugar, flour, butter..."

When I would ask my mother what was in something, she would outline the ingredients because she knew.  She made everything from scratch.  TV dinners were considered a real treat in my family because we ate frozen food so rarely.  TV dinners were new-fangled.

Sugar, flour, butter, those things were not politically incorrect in my mother's day, probably because those things were not so easy to get during the depression and the war.  And I would guess, they didn't contain as many strange ingredients as foods do today, though I must say, I used to eat an awful lot of maraschino cherries in that lovely (now banned) red dye.


"There is a reason rich people are rich.  They are tight with their money and save their pennies.  That's why they are rich."

Probably true.

But as I mentioned in one of my earlier blogs, there is a saying that those who are tight with money are often tight with their love. 

There was a lot of love in my family.







 "If you read, you will never be lonely."

My mother wasn't what I would call a sophisticated reader, but she was a reader.  Her reading habits leaned more toward  "Book of the Month Club" and the "Reader's Digest Condensed Books."

I remember my mother taking me to the great big library in our town for the story times, and I had a library card from a young age. 


 I'm the one in the middle in the white dress. 
(Remember when articles about children going to the library was newsworthy enough to make the newspaper?  Me neither).

The Hackley Public Library in Muskegon, Michigan is an imposing three story structure built in 1888 with funds from Charles Hackley, a lumber baron.  He gave so much money to the town that we celebrated Hackley Day where we only had to go to school for a half day to hear about how great he was.

The library was recently part of a "Most Beautiful Library" contest.

I spent many nights in that library and sitting under those stained glass windows.

My mother was a child of Swedish immigrants and the only one in her large family to finish high school.  She valued education highly and taking me to the library probably planted the seed that would give me and her granddaughter our most challenging and rewarding careers as librarians.

So, Mom, you might not have thought I heard what you told me all those years ago when I was growing up, but I did.

And I hear you still.





Happy Mother's Day, Mom, wherever you are,
and to all you Moms out there!



What are your memories
growing up with your Mom? 




See you Friday for


"Must-See Musical Biopics"



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