}

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Mom at 99

Ninety-nine years ago today, my mother was born. Each year I try and think of something different to say about her, or about her influence on me, and sometimes I even succeed. But the more years that pass, the harder this becomes.

Most of these posts have included brief anecdotes or memories that I think convey what she was like, how she influenced me, or what she meant to me. But there are other stories, maybe darker ones, that tell other things about her, and about me. This post was going to be of that variety, but, it turns out, I’m not ready to tell those stories because they say so much about me and my life.

So, instead, here are some random memories, the sorts of things that frequently pop into my head.

When I was a kid, my most enduring memory of her is of her reading—always reading a book of some sort. She loved Agatha Christie, so one year for Christmas I set out to get her every Agatha Christie book I could find. Turned out, she hadn’t read many of them. She also took me to get my first library card before I could even read.

I also remember asking her for something, and she’d say, “wait ‘til I finish this cigarette.” If only I’d known, because those damn things killed her. On the other hand, when we were driving on vacation, she’d always crack her window when she lit a cigarette, and my dad almost never did, which made me nauseous.

She could be a wonderful cook and baker, but not everything was a success, and she’d try the oddest meals. For example, she got a “casserole” recipe made from saltines and cheese (she used Velveeta), and it was bloody awful. Or the time she bought the astronaut-inspired packaged meal called “TVP Dinner” to make for us. “TVP” stood for “textured vegetable protein”, and was meant to be beef stroganoff flavour. She made two packets, but only put in enough water for one—it was like mortar ready for a bricklayer to use.

She also used to give my music and TV preferences a go, even if they weren’t her “thing”. But, sometimes they were: She started watching re-runs of the original Star Trek with me, though sometimes she asked kind of obvious questions, which I thought was to just to show she was interested. She also quite liked an Abba album I bought, in the last year of her life.

I never for one moment doubted that she loved me or that she was proud of me, because she told me both all the time. But because I was only 21 when she died, a lot of that was more embarrassing to me than reassuring. It's reassuring now, though.

And that’s the thing about good memories: They can be pulled up snug around our necks to warm us whenever the world seems the most cold, or when we most need that snug feeling to make it easier to carry on with whatever is ahead of us. That’s an important thing, I think, or, at least, it is to me.

Happy Birthday, Mom.

Related:
Tears of a clown
– one of my favourite posts about my mother

Previous years’ birthday posts:
Remembering my mother (2014)
Mom’s birthday (2013)
Mom’s treasure (2012)
Remembering birthdays (2011)
That time of year (2009)
Memories and words (2008)

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