|As in infant, some 90 years ago, my Mom wore these shoes and sipped milk from this cup.|
These button-up baby shoes and engraved cup are cherished keepsakes from my Mom's childhood. As Mother’s Day approaches it’s only natural to reminisce a bit and recall memories of her. I’ve many good ones, but these are the three which stand out from all the rest.
Picture a modest, three-bedroom house in Vista, California, circa 1952, with a six-year- old me standing on the cement porch. I've got a lunch box in one hand, dressed in appropriate attire for first grade, and eager to walk to school with my best friend. But just as I am about to head down the steps my Mom opens the front door and calls out my name. In her hands is a red wool coat. Though we live in sunny Southern California it's a cold day and a warm jacket is warranted. Her message is clear though she doesn't say a word.
Begrudgingly I slip my arms into the sleeves and while my Mom bends over to button up the coat I begin to cry.
Puzzled by my tears my Mom immediately stops working the buttons into their holes and asks, “What’s the matter, Julie? Why are you crying?”
Tears continue to fall and my quivering lips remain closed.
“Are you sick?”
I shake my head no.
Still not sure what is the cause of the tears, she asks, “Can you tell me what’s wrong?”
With my head hanging down and tears trickling down my cheeks I mumble, “I don’t want to wear this coat.”
“No. I don’t like it.”
Thankfully I had a discerning Mother who knew to kneel in front of me, look into my eyes and softly say, “Oh, I see. And is that because the coat used to be your sisters and now you have to wear it?”
My head bobbed up and down.
Then to my surprise I saw tears in her eyes and heard these words: “I wish I could buy you a nice new coat, but Daddy and I don’t have enough money right now for one. But I promise you, one day you and I will go to the store and buy you a new one, okay?”
My tears began to subside when I heard that promise making it possible to tell her, “Okay." When she finished buttoning my coat and gave me a hug I quickly cut across the yard and met up with my friends for our daily trek to school.
I have no recollection of any shopping trip for a new coat but I’m sure my Mom kept her word once funds were available. Why that childhood memory stands apart from all the others no doubt is due to the tears and expression I saw in my Mother’s eyes that day. Though only a child I somehow grasped she hurt too, though I'm sure I did not fully comprehend the reason behind her tears. Ironically, today a bright red coat hangs in my closet, one of my favorite cover ups whenever the weather turns chilly.
Another special memory with my Mom happened a few years later, one December morning back in the early 1950’s.
Typical of most girls my age playtime centered on dolls. Though I never had a Barbie, it was still fun to imagine a world where my doll could attend parties, go to the beach, pretend she was famous, play house, and more.
|Good ol' black/white TV with 13 channels!|
In time I outgrew my love for dolls, and at one point must have given them and their wardrobe away as we had miniscule closets in those days and no garage to store our prize possessions. But I do have a photo from that morning which always stirs up memories and reminds me of my gifted and thoughtful Mom.
Not too long ago I went through a container marked “Mom’s old photos, etc.” Among the pictures were porcelain dolls she played with as a child and a few doll clothes her tiny hands had sewn. As I marveled at what I had come across I felt like an archaeologist who had unearthed a remarkable find. What a treasure to hold in my hands her handiwork and the tiny, delicate dolls which undoubtedly were special to her.
Seeing what was probably her first attempt at sewing made me aware of my Mother’s early interest in sewing and caused me to wonder if anyone recognized this about her or encouraged her, later in life, to be a fashion designer. Whether or not they did, she found a way to express her talent via an old Singer sewing machine. She eventually became a skillful seamstress and made numerous dresses for me and my sister, Ginny, or an occasional one for herself.
Lucky for her she had a nearby fabric outlet to fuel her interest in sewing. Often, she and her best friend would go there to scour through hundreds of bolts of material which sold for a mere $.35 a yard! Such a deal. So was the $.50 price of a pattern. Rarely did she return home without an armload of fabric.
Such Good Memories
I realize I’m fortunate to have such good memories of my Mom. She was not perfect, nor I an angelic child, and we had our moments of conflict, but what relationship doesn’t? Yet what I remember mostly are those poignant moments, like the morning on the porch with the red coat, or discovering the lengths my Mom would go to make my Christmas special, and her unconditional love which is so easy to see given the passage of time. She was indeed a wonderful Mom.
I hope you have a favorite memory of your Mom to reflect upon this Mother’s Day, or better yet, get to spend time with her on this national holiday. And for those who find this day painful, for whatever reason, I ask God to comfort you and somehow make up for the Mom you never had, or the pain she inflicted on you, or the love she was incapable of giving. And when that happens, may that become a treasured memory.