A Memory of My Mom

So I thought of mom today. I was sewing and I couldn’t help but think of her, after all she taught me to sew. As a young girl, my mother always seemed to be sewing. She was a talented seamstress. In fact, she made some of my bridesmaids dresses for my wedding.

I remember as a young girl, standing next to her as she sewed at her machine. I would watch her meticulously measure, cut, pin and sew time and again. She created almost anything you could imagine. One year she sewed my son’s Halloween costumes, they were the scarecrow and lion from The Wizard of Oz.  They were beautiful costumes.

As I sat at the table measuring, cutting, pinning and sewing a throw pillow I couldn’t help but smile as I thought of her. I sew because of her. I watched her sew for all those years that when it came time for Home Economics in school, I sat down at the machine and after a brief instruction, took right off sewing like a natural. The teacher was impressed.

I will admit that I think of mom often, in so many things that I do daily.

I don’t iron much, but when I do, I always think of her. When Darien started his new career in the cities post graduation I wanted him to look the part of the handsome young, polished professional. So I went and purchased a new iron, as my old iron had seen a better day. Actually I purchased two irons, as Darien would need to learn how to iron once he moved to the cities. Several months ago one evening, he stood in the doorway of my bedroom as I was ironing his shirt for work the next day.

Dari: Where did you learn how to iron?

Me: My mom….

As a young girl, I remember her standing at the iron and ironing clothes for what seemed like hours. I would watch her as she moved the iron over the clothes, and re-positioned each item with care to iron out every wrinkle. She always ironed the best shirt sleeve creases. Often as I watched, she would ask me if I would like to help her. I would often try, but as hard as I tried it was always difficult to maneuver the iron. It seemed a task at my young age, and almost stressful to manage the hot iron so that I would not burn my fingers. Often I would quit after just a couple minutes, and continue to watch her. I thought her crazy, standing there ironing for what seemed forever, but she never seemed to mind.

Me: Why do you like to iron so much?

Mom: It’s relaxing and calming…..

I never understood that until I was older, but she was so right.

As I stood over Dari’s shirt, trying to make the shirt sleeve creases look as crisp as mom’s, I couldn’t help but think of her and that sentiment. There is something about the menial task of ironing that is truly calming, and almost comforting. The rhythmic movement of the iron and the simplicity of a tedious, yet necessary task somehow would calm my mind, as thoughts moved through my mind.

So often, when I am talking of my plans for a busy weekend that may involve painting, wallpapering, yard improvement plans or building something, I am always asked by people how do I know HOW to do all these things?

I always answer back, “how do you not?”.  To me, I have just always known how to be handy, or crafty.

It is amazing the knowledge that we accumulated over the years by both watching, and helping our parents with tasks and chores.

I can clean like nobody’s business.

I can create and craft an idea with little problem.

I can envision something beautiful and useful from something that looks old and worn.

I am capable, and so are all of my siblings.

A tribute to both of our parents really.

But today, this is about mom.

I love Hobby Lobby.  My mom would have adored it!  She would have loved it because of all the beautiful things, and for the fabric department.  But more than all of that she would have loved it for all the ideas it would give her.  When I am in Hobby Lobby at times, I imagine standing next to her while she is looking at something, and I can almost hear her say, “I can make this….”.

I do that.  Even the signs.  I think always, ‘I can just go to Home Depot and get “this” and “this” and I could make this’…..!

There is such satisfaction in creating something yourself, instead of just buying everything (when possible).

We learned that from mom.  I learned that from mom.

My mom was an entrepreneur at heart.  Truly, she was always creating and dreamed of having her own craft shop.  I guess that is where us girls get our own entrepreneurial spirit from.  We are always talking about doing something together, we are always dreaming and scheming, as our mom once did.

Currently, Magnolia wallpaper is on sale at Target.  I mentioned this to people at work, saying that I thought I would maybe paper a feature wall in my dining room (something I once swore I would never do again).  They asked who would put it up for me?  I answered, “me” (with sort of a duh look on my face).

But I realize so much just how adept our parents made us.  I realize now,  just how skilled my mom made me.

And here is where it gets real.  Life is always so darn complicated.  And as is usually the case with me, I have to do things wrong a half dozen times, just to finally get it right or find the point I have been struggling for.  I am stubborn, and often once I dig my heels into an idea, I don’t back down easily.

That is how it was with mom and I.

I formed my opinion of her long ago.  I blamed her for everything wrong in our family, which is unfair in any arena.

If she just ‘would’ve done this’….

Or just ‘would’ve been this way’….

Life would’ve been…..

What? Better?

Maybe.  But what I failed to see for the time I had her was so simple, and still I missed it time and again.  I chose to not see that she was flawed, and injured but that still, there was so much depth to her: so much beauty and talent.  And although she failed many a time as our mom, she was still, our mom.  Our relationship was so darn complicated, because we vacillated back and forth between who was the mother, and who was the daughter.

She wanted to be “the mom”, but I was so used to picking up the pieces, that often everyone just turned to me for the answer.  That had to hurt her.  I truly believe (because she told me) that she felt that dad and I were the true team, and she the bystander.  Ouch.  As much as I know that mom loved me, I know there were times that she didn’t like me.  I get that now.  I truly do.  I am more than sure that she viewed me in many ways as competition for her job as “our mom”.  And as a family system, we never talked about our feelings.  We internalized them, they compounded within us and well, nothing good ever comes from that.

You may say that mom should’ve been stronger.  She should’ve always been the mom, and a better one then, right?

Can we all say that we have done all things right?  I can’t.  I have hurt the people I love the most, more than once.

But here is the deep and burning question.  If given the chance, would you go back and make right ALL the wrongs?  Our first response is a resounding, YES!  But should we?

I sit here today, 48 1/2 years old and I think that my life has been filled with shoulda, woulda and coulda’s.  BUT some of my biggest “mistakes” have brought about some of my greatest gifts.

And that is my point.

Everything in my life has brought me to who I am today.  You change even one thing, and does it change everything in such a way that I am not who I am today?  A deep thought, but one that begs the question: are we not all meant to walk the path we are put on?

As I sit here today, I think of how capable I am because of someone that I once thought incapable.  Imagine that.  This lady who taught us SO much, I thought her incapable?  I look back and I wish more than anything that I would’ve done the one thing that I always wanted to do, but never did, save for my pride.  I wanted to put my arms around her and say, “I think you so talented and I love you mom”.  If I had, would it have changed something for us, for our time on Earth as mother and daughter?  I will never know….because I never did that.  Instead, I marched forth with my own idea, determined to nail her to the cross with sins that I predetermined of her.  Remember the mistakes I talked about earlier, here is another of mine and this one I wish I could change.

Today, I am filled with love for her.  And today I am also filled with the regret that I cannot pick up the phone and tell her that.  It is too late.

My heart weighs heavy on my soul today.

I am sure that I am a little nostalgic, as the holidays are right around the corner.  Yes, the holidays.  No matter what, even with ALL of our dysfunction….by God, we celebrated the dang holidays as a family!   We were always late.  We were forever running to the store for more items just before they would close.  Dad always came sliding in at the last second.  Lonny was always yelling, “is the food done yet?”.  WHat seemed a million kids running through the house with a pack of dogs right on their heels.  There was always chaos around every corner……right up to dinner, during dinner, and after dinner and mom at the center of all of it.…yelling that the gravy was burning or “SOMEONE GET THE POTATOES OFF THE STOVE, THEY ARE BOILING OVER!”!…..and looking back, I miss those times more than I can put into words.

Simply, I miss my mom.

I hope she knows that.

If you ever watched A City Of Angels…I think of this often, that those that have left us walk with us as angels, only we can’t see them.  At times, I will stop and glance at her picture and softly say, “I’m sorry…and I hope you know that I do love you…and I always did”.  I imagine her at my side.

Death is funny.  Peace for one, often disquiet for those left behind.  I am thankful for her peace, but I am still working through mine.  I am finding it.   One day, I will give her that hug, and I will tell her that I am grateful that she was so flawed and talented as to make me who I am today, which is someone so capable, not just for my learned skills, but to also have learned how to love, know thankfulness and forgiveness and fortitude through difficult times.

I learned that from her.

Mom was an enigma of sorts.  I never really figured her out.  Maybe that’s part of her charm.  And maybe that’s part of the story of who she was.  Ever changing, never predictable.  She was a beautiful mess, meant in the most loving of ways.



3 thoughts on “A Memory of My Mom

  1. I cried and laughed while reading this as I remember so many memories at your house!
    Your mother was definitely a creator maybe nor always a finisher lol but she had so many awesome ideas!
    I never knew what I would walk into when I came over but I always knew that it was a home filled with love, memories, laughs, and the realness that comes with family mess, moods, and occasional fighting!
    My all time favorite line from your mom
    “God Blessed America Allyson!”…usually because she was frustrated over something we did or didn’t do!
    My favorite memory was her showing us with complete joy all her finds at the thirft shop! (She loved that place!)
    Thank you all for letting me be apart of your family!
    Love you all so much and love hanging out with you guys!

    1. Angela, I sent this to Allyson. She’s recovering in the hospital from her procedure. Thank you for sharing your memories with us and also being part of our extended family. Roxanne

    2. Ah yes. mother! She was quite the “lady”! I have this challenge always because some of the stuff she did was just so crazy and funny! And yet, she was just so damn crazy 😳

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