When I read Gone With the Wind, I totally pictured my mom as one of those gorgeous, genteel, southern belles… skilled in every social grace.
Once the kids in my class asked me if she was an actress because she wore sunglasses to a parent-teacher conference… and in today’s parlance, she looked smokin’.
She greeted me after school as though I’d returned from a long journey and had exciting adventures to tell… could it be that is how she taught me to be a storyteller, while not being one herself?
The house always smelled like a basket of clean laundry just brought inside from hanging on the line… and my boys know how much I love doing laundry…for real, truly.
Mom could make anything, anywhere look beautiful at anytime… with the possible exception of me.
Because it turned out that I am almost her complete opposite.
Quiet and slightly suspicious, I checked people out before I jumped in.
She laughed and insisted “it will all work out eventually”… I worried everything to death.
I didn’t care about “girl stuff” – – I liked to ride my bike, dig in the dirt, build forts and play “army” with the boys. And lucky me, I got to be a mom to several… boys, that is.
Mom sent me to school with curled hair and pretty handmade dresses. I returned each afternoon with ripped out hems, crooked pigtails and skinned knees.
She was excited for school clothes shopping expeditions. My version – just slap any old thing on me and call it good.
She loved to plan parties. I hid in the bathroom when the entire church youth group showed up for my 16th birthday.
She taught me stuff, but I don’t know how. She never said, “come here right now and learn to cook, change a diaper, paint a wall, sew a skirt, iron a shirt”. I guess it was osmosis, because I seemed to know, when I needed to know it. Very weird…
I wanted to be like her… but wanted to be like me at the same time. And she always encouraged that… to be me all the time.
I broke her heart once… (well, probably more than once)
…when I told her I was moving to Alaska, and taking her first-born grandson with me.
She adapted… and conquered fears… and stepped into planes… and visited a land far away from her comfort zone to make new memories.
“Mom! It still smells like Grandma’s here!” the boys would say, weeks after her visit ended. And we would find squares of tissue sprayed with perfume, tucked behind pillows and under cushions and we all loved that.
She never made me feel “less than” because of our differences. She seemed to enjoy it. Maybe she held the same wonder and curiosity about me that I had for her.
When I sit down with a cup of coffee, she’s still the one I’d like to share conversation with… I still want to know what she thinks and how she feels and does she think I’m on the right track.
Even now, having reached Grandma status myself, I share the tough place life has brought me to and she answers… with prayer, encouragement, smiles and God’s word.
She is a gift.