Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Blog

I've been planning a blog for my mom for a while, but just couldn't get the gumption to do it. Two and a half years later and it's still hard to talk about it. But just as I 'turned the corner' on many things at the new year I decided that closure with it all needed to be done as well. Anyone who knew my mom would know she'd be pretty pissed with me for continuing to be bogged down in all of this. So, on Mother's Day (rather obvious opportunity don't you think?) here is
An Ode to My Mom!

My mom was very special. All moms are in some way or another. A mom would have to work real hard to not be special in some small way. Mom could be special without working hard at it. In all my life I can really only remember getting into one argument with her. Don't get me wrong, she yelled a lot when I'd something wrong, but most of the time I knew I'd done it, why argue? Let her blow off her steam, apologize, fix it and we move on. She wasn't only my mom, but since my father passed away when I was very little, she was also my father figure and she was one of my best friends.

She became a single parent when I was 5. At that time my brother was 10 and my sister 13. Mom was a lab tech at the time so anyone in that field knows what kind of wages you make and it isn't ever enough, much less with 3 children and a mortgage. My mom made life fun as best she could. If you ask me what kind of childhood I had my immediate, and truthful, response is that it was great! I have great memories of growing up even with an older brother terrorizing me as older brothers are so good at. If I think harder about the details, I can remember being without things. I can remember the tuna & macaroni salad... again. I can remember never having Nike tennis shoes in Jr. High when they were SO en vogue. I didn't have the designer jeans or the latest fashions. I'm sure there was a part of me that wished I did, but I do remember a part of me knowing at that age that I didn't have it because we couldn't afford it. I also remember making a conscious decision not to say anything about it because the last thing I wanted to do was make Mom feel bad for not being able to give it to me. Besides, by that age I was growing so fast who would have been able to keep ME constantly dressed in the latest fashions.

Mom was born in North Carolina to Clyde and Beulah. Clyde & Beulah owned a store called Clybeau's so the family, while not wealthy, were comfortable. Clyde, the consummate gentleman, was well known in town so therefore, my Mom and her sisters were too. Like me, Mom was a good bit younger than her older sisters. In the pic to the left, Mom is that skinny legged lanky girl (yet a blossoming beauty!) on the left. She told me once that when she was growing up, she used to see her older sisters get into trouble for whatever it was that they had done. Mom said as she was growing up watching her sisters, she learned to either not do it, or how to do it and not get caught. I think that was my first life's lesson learned from Mom. Now my brother & sister know why I didn't get into trouble so much as they did... :)
I was never able to meet Beulah as she passed away from a brain tumor when Mom was in high school. I understand Beulah was quite a woman and a wonderful mother. I see that the apple does not, in fact, fall far from the tree.

Mom was pretty special growing up in rural North Carolina. She was on one of the country's first women's basketball teams in college. She was also the first female school bus driver in North Carolina's history. All this was in her college years. After college she went into the Navy. While she was in the Navy she met my father. I've always loved the story of how they met. Apparently back then when pay day rolled around, everyone got in line alphabetically. There was one woman in between my mom (Gri) and my dad (Gra). My father happened to be dating the woman in between them until she was transferred and BAM, they met on a more regular basis. I often wonder if he'd just been working his way through the alphabet!

They were quite the 50's couple, having parties with their friends and enjoying being around the world with the military. The pic on the left was when they lived in Japan. (Mom is on Dad's lap)

Once they came back to the states they started having the kids. Brother & Sister were within a few years of each other and that was going to be it. As my brother & sister are so fond of reminding me, I was supposed to be a ski boat. Daddy was apparently on the way to get one and Mom told him about the dead rabbit, and here I come!

Once I had moved out of the house and she was able to breathe and relax in her own domain, she enjoyed herself and did what she wanted to for the first time in decades. When she started seeing "Fred" (stepfather from an earlier post) they would spend many summer days out on the boat. I used to tease her saying that while I may live on the coast in Charleston, she had a better tan than I did!

Mom always wanted happy people around her. If I can remember biggest concern about people outside herself, she'd say "I don't see why they want to be so unhappy with their life!" She was easy to laugh about something and, whether she realized it or not, was pretty damn funny herself! Once, back in the mid 1990's a study came out that showed a certain species of monkey was resistant to the HIV virus. Both being in the medical field at the time, she and I were discussing the topic and wondering what the physiological reason could be for their resistance. She was quiet for a second and said "You know why I bet it is? They have such ugly butts!" Check out mom with the very subtle gay joke! To this day when I see one of those baboons with the flaming red rump I have to laugh as did she.

She was a laugh, all my life. From dancing around the house in a green leotard and playing my brothers drums to Mary Poppin's "Let's Go Fly a Kite" to laughing at some goofy thing that I had just done or said, she was a laugh. One of my favorite pictures of her came from my brother's wedding (they were married on a square in Savannah, Georgia). I can't remember precisely what they're laughing at, but I remember that at the very end of the ceremony a Hejaz Shriner parade started coming by the square and hundreds of men dressed as hillbillies came to offer my brother and sister-in-law congratulations on their wedding.

That's the mom I remember. Pre-cancer, pre-Fred's-family-drama, alive, happy and laughing. That's the Mom that will forever be in my heart and memory. I miss you Mom! I know, if God allows iPods, you're jammin' to Gladys Knight.


Just Kevin... said...

I can see so much of your mom in you, Chris! And FINALLY I know the monkey butt story! Aren't Moms the greatest?

Lea in SC said...

I do miss her so much. Great post, and yay for you for finally doing it - it was AWESOME!!! Love ya!

Bunny said...

Your mom sounds wonderful! I simply adore the wedding pic - I bet it reflects the daybetter than any of the posed shots ever could. (But your SIL is way too skinny. Just saying.)

I bet you would make a great parent too. You should look into that.

cb said...

Your mom sounded like one cool lady!

Anonymous said...

Your mom was awesome...she was always nice to me even after that time I woke her up in the wee hours powerhonking sangria. She was even nice about it when it was actually happening. What a lovely story- thanks for posting it.