Sunday, May 13, 2007
Happy Mother's Day - to my mom
When I think of my mom, I don't always remember her like she was when she was sick with Parkinson's. I try not to recall those times when I would try to explain something, and she'd wave her hand and say, "That doesn't make sense..." or, in some other way let me know she wasn't even trying to follow what I was describing. In those times, I decided to turn away from her in a sense, and I closed off parts of my world to her. It was not a good thing to do, but I did.
Instead, what I like to remember is how her eyes used to light up when I shared something...something she loved, like how I planted a garden...that I wanted to can vegetables with her, or go pick apples at the orchard. She always spotted trees in stranger's yards, and she'd say, "I bet they aren't even going to pick those. Do you think WE could?" "MOM! We can't do that!" I bet we could have. She always wanted to make use of things, and she couldn't see letting good apples (you could insert: pears, cherries, grapes) go to waste.
Oh yes, and the berries! In late June, she would always get excited when the wild raspberries came ripe. She told me that HER mom used to can raspberries, and as a child, she'd eat those berries with fresh cream and sugar. It was one of her favorite things. Even in her late 70s, when her hands shook and she was kind of wobbly from the disease, she'd get her straw hat, wear long jeans, put on the white gloves with the fingers cut off, spray with OFF, and take off to the "woods" with her bucket to pick all those "free" black raspberries. Never mind that she sometimes got chiggers, or poison ivy, or made her arms bloody with brier scratches, she had those berries to make her DELICIOUS pies! Her eyes really lit up when you ate a piece, and praised the juicy wonderfulness and the best pie crust in the world!
Mom's garden, a huge garden, every year produced green beans, tomatoes, cauliflower, sweet corn, cucumbers, green peppers, GIANT PUMPKINS, yellow squash, and the ever-hated zucchini. Mom turned zucchini into her own taco casserole, bread, and even chocolate cake. At the end of every summer, Mom had jars and jars of beautiful vegetables, relish, and as it became popular, she made salsas. Her freezer never was empty, because she filled that, too. She was proud of her work, her thriftiness, and that God had blessed her another year.
Mom loved going to the Delaware County Fair! From the time we were little, she always took us to see the horses, the cows, sheep, rabbits and the rest of the 4-H animals. We'd have to go through the vegetable displays too, which seemed to take forever, but we'd be there all day, and it was usually "Children's day," or "Firemen's Day," (our dad was a city fireman) so we could ride all the rides for a cheap price. We'd always get one of her favorites, a chocolate malt from the Matthews Lion's Club booth. One year, her name even got called on the final night of the annual fair, for the grand prize, and if she had GONE that night, she'd have won a new car. For some reason, that night she was lured somewhere else, and it was required that you be in attendance in order to win. But her eyes would light just telling the story of when she almost won.
Making cinnamon sticky rolls was also one of her "specialities." The secret, well, I'm not sure since mine don't always turn out as good as hers were, is corn syrup in the bottom of the pan. I guess I need some more experience, but Mom practiced good and hard on hers, and they were the BEST! Cinnabons just don't match what my mom could make.
When I used to take my kids to her house - that made her eyes light up. She'd greet them at the door, hold her arms open wide, and scoop them up with so much love. She kept fun toys, bought mostly from rummage sales, or her collection of rocks from all the state parks she'd ever been to, for all the kids to play with. Mom often made either pie, cookies, or those amazing sticky rolls or some other goodie, and she'd feed us all. She even taught whoever of the kids would pay attention how to roll the dough out, and she took pride when Sara learned to knead it. (The other kids probably learned too, but Sara just told me about it recently when SHE made sticky rolls for her fiance', Landon.)
Fishing - yes, another one of Mom's passions - that would make her light up. Whether it was in the Mississinewa River, on St. Joseph Island, or Prairie Creek Reservoir, Mom LOVED to fish. Whether she was in the surf of South Padre Island, from a pontoon or a boat, from a pier, or from the shore, she LOVED it. I can't say that I ever really loved to fish, but Mom convinced us to take her on one of her last "good" days in June of 2001, and although I wasn't too happy to be doing it, but we went fishing.
I can't tell you how much I wished I had enjoyed that day more, but the pictures that Liz took that day tell it all - Mom's eyes were fully LIT UP.
Mother's Day. I don't have my mom here to give a card or a gift any more. She has been gone for six Mother's Days. I can't tell her, except to hope she hears me, how much I loved her. In case I didn't make it clear, Mom, you make my eyes light up remembering everything you did, everything you loved, and that you loved me. I love you too, Mom. Happy Mother's Day.