I grew up in the fifties and sixties with practical parents – a mother who washed plastic plates after she used them, the reused them. A father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. I can see them now, Dad in trousers and tee- shirt and Mom in a house dress, a pot in one hand, and dish towel in the other. It was the time for fixing things- a curtain rod, the kitchen door, the hem in a dress.
Things we keep.
It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste meant affluence. Throwing things away meant there’d always be more. But then my mother passed away, and on that clear summer morning, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn’t any ‘more’. Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away…..never to return! So, while we have it, it’s best we love it and care for it and fix it when it’s broken ….and heal it when it’s sick. This is true for old cars…..and dogs with bad hips, and children with bad report cards…..and aging parents…..and grandparents… and marriage.
We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it.
Some things we keep.
My mom read the passage above at our wedding and I have returned to it and thought about it so many times since then to the point where I just about have it memorized.
It describes my mom so well — my mom who never asks for anything from us kids. Who turns down a flat screen tv for a gift because she “already had a perfectly good tv.” Who prefers good meals and long talks over anything material. As a kid, I didn’t quite understand this — we were always anxious to buy Mom fancy things for every occasion and each time she would tell us, “I don’t need it.” When we asked for something new and shiny, Mom would say, “you already have it.” It’s only now that I am older that I appreciate I have a mom who cooks us all our favorite treats whenever we come to visit, a mom who scours thrift stores and garage sales to find vintage Pyrex bowls for my collection, a mom that taught me that creating memories is more important than buying things.
When I was a kid, I always thought my mom was the most beautiful person in the world. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted her long shiny black hair and amazing hand-made wardrobe. As an adult I now realize that her beauty lies so much deeper. My mom wears her heart on her sleeve and will do anything for her family, but she would also do anything for a friend, a neighbor, a student, an animal, a plant — my mom gives every part of herself to those that she loves. She is strong, yet vulnerable. Sweet, yet tough. Serious, yet silly. Creative, curious, always laughing, always learning new things, and always impressing me with the things that she can do and make.
Mom, you are still the most beautiful and inspiring person I know. I still hope to one day be just like you.
Happy Mother’s day, Mom.
I love you.