We're still thinking mothers tonight. I've been getting so many great Mother's Day or Mother stories this week for my Honor Mom Giveaway. You can check out the prizes in the giveaway contest and how to enter on my website events page here. But now for a special treat.
I've made so many reading friends on Facebook and here on my blog. I enjoy hearing from all of you and appreciate you reading my blogs and posts and my books. You're the best.
One of those friends is Sandi. Last year when I was having my biopsy and then surgery for breast cancer, she sent me some first person experiences that kept me laughing. Nothing I'd had done could compare to the stories she told. I shared one of those stories on a previous blog here if you'd like to read it. And now she's shared this great piece about her mother. I wrote her back and said I was smiling and crying both. I know some of you will be doing the same. And while you younger readers may be a little taken aback by some of Sandi's story, rest assured that these old time mamas loved their children and took to heart the responsibility of making sure they grew up right. The "because I said so" generation did a great job of raising kids. So take it away, Sandi.
Sandi's Story - A Woman Named Grace
How does one describe the love of a mother? I have had a mother, been a mother and am now a grandmother. What a gift God has given me. This story, however, is about a woman named "Grace." There were eight of us children –four girls and four boys. Mother was of the "because I said so" generation.
She was such fun when she wasn’t having to save us from certain death or threatening us with certain death. She told us that she had eyes in the back of her head and as a very young child, I used to try desperately to see them. (I never did, but I still believe they were there). She was full of wisdom–"your face is going to freeze that way." Or.. "If everyone else jumps off a cliff, are you going to also? " One of her favorites was "I know how ugly I are...I know my face ain’t no star, but then I don’t mind it cause I’m behind it...it’s the guy in the front gets the jar." (If our hair needed shampooed or we look especially bad that day). She also told me that there was a special place at the top of her leg (maybe she said legs) where a baby came out...I tried to see that too, but finally, at around the age of 12 figured it out and quit looking. The eyes...not so much.
Mother had many "sayings" that I, then, tried to pass on to my kids. (Hers is definitely the voice I hear in my head). I would yell..."you do that again and I’ll knock you into the middle of next week" and they would look at one another and check their schedule to see what they’d be doing at that particular time. They were fearless. I guess without the slipper it just didn’t mean anything.
Mother had a slipper–she used it with great gusto. She could whip that sucker off and knock you (into the middle of next week) before you even knew what hit you. She used that "enforcer" a lot when she was on the phone. Why is it that children think you’ve lost both sight and hearing when you’re seemingly distracted ,which, incidentally, she never was. We’d be chasing each other around the table laughing and shouting and "whack." Time suddenly stood still. That slipper was a promise of what was to come...and next week sounded pretty good about then.
And her eyes...oh those eyes. She didn’t have to say a word, but we knew what she wanted us to do. She could make my brothers walk the center aisle of the church and sit in the front seat (they’d been in the back giggling) without a word...just by giving them "the look." When she raised her eyebrows and widened her eyes, we knew that next week was a comin’. The worst was when she’d say she was going to knock you so far into next week that it would take two weeks for you to get back....she really meant business then.
Sometimes she’d threaten with "I’m going to knock your head off and watch it roll across the floor." That was quite a visual!
"Wipe that look off your face" was one I worked hard at achieving. Just try not to look mad when you are...go ahead...try it. Impossible...but I know eight grown ups who can do it effortlessly.
Or the rather famous when we were whining about something–"you wanna cry, I’ll give you something to cry about." Or when I’d see someone without teeth, I’d wonder if their mother had done what mine threatened when we’d sass–"you say that again and I’ll knock your teeth right down your throat." Ugh, shudder, yuck.
I even tried it on my young daughter once...she had said something really nasty...as four-year-olds do now and then and I heard myself utter those words without even thinking–she looked horrified and responded "oh, dat would weely hurt." I had no power...no power whatsoever. I think I cried the whole rest of the day.
We had a record at home and a song on it that said "knock her down again, Pa, knock her down again." We hummed it a lot...but only in the backyard...far away from the house.
I was a victim quite often. I think I was born without a filter...or common sense...or the ability to know what I shouldn’t repeat. I had three older brothers. I’d overhear them talking and telling stories and then I’d repeat them at the most inopportune times. Like once when a spinster neighbor lady came to visit, I announced that I knew a joke. She, of course, wanted to hear it. "Mary had a little lamb and the doctor’s fainted." I hadn’t a clue as to what it meant, but Mother sure did. I think her eyes crossed.
Lest you get the impression that she was related to "The Wicked Witch of the West," she wasn’t. If you cried in the night, ever so softly, she was there with a cool cloth and a kiss and a promise that it would be better in the morning. If someone threatened one of "hers" she had a look that could make them run for cover. If it was "Parents Day" at school–there she’d be, looking quite unlike the lady in the duster and hairnet I had left at home in the morning. I especially liked her brown suit and the way she did her hair in a bun in the back. She was a classy lady...especially when she wasn’t wearing those slippers.
She made the best pies and cookies of anyone I knew but wasn’t so good at "real" food. However, she never made you sit at the table until you ate something–with that many kids, there wasn’t room anyways. She would look at us lovingly and say "I have good kids." We all understood the hidden meaning... . She never ever told us to ride our bikes down the white line on Rt. 40 like one of our nameless Aunts was apt to tell her rather bratty kid to do. (I think one of my brothers offered him a push).
And she taught us about Jesus, the most important presence in our lives. Nothing made me prouder than on Mother’s Day in church, when she’d win for having the most children. We’d all be scrubbed cleaner than clean and we’d clap wildly when she’d go up front to get her geranium. She has gone to be with the Lord now, but there is a whole new generation that carries on her sayings and even her name–Grace. As I said, I am a mother and a grandmother, but in my eyes, there is only one Mother worthy of that name–ours.
Thank you so much for sharing your story, Sandi. You definitely were blessed with a wonderful mother. I know you must treasure your memories of her and good times with your siblings.
Did any of the rest of you have a mother like Sandi's? Mine never had any slippers but she could give you that look for sure.