1.13.2008

I Remember Mama

I used to call Mom on my birthday and tell her, "Happy BIRTHday", because I figured it was a day we had shared in the process of getting me 'borned', and wanted to, once again, let her know how loved and appreciated she was for that. I guess, from what she said, she had to drag me around for almost an extra month, because I was so slow to make my entrance inta this woild. Up North, where I was born, they have a saying, "as slow as molasses in January". My Mom said that saying was created because of me. I doubt that, but she always said it was, and that, "You are always late, and (tsk) you'll be 'late' for your own funeral". It was only a couple of years before she passed, that, upon hearing her say it for the ninty-zillionth time, that I 'got' the joke and said, "Ohhhhh!" She looked at me in disbelief and said, "You're only just now getting that joke?!" I guess I can be slow, but, eventually, I get there.
That was one thing about Mom; she had a sense of humor and everybody loved her. Her friends called her "Millie", but her family(brothers and sister) called her "Sis". Their kids call her "Aunt Sis". She wanted us, her own kids, to always call her "Mama", but, alas, when we got old enough to 'know more than she did', we started calling her "Mom". To her grandchildren she was, of course, "Gramma".
She had been born the eldest of seven children and had always been a hard worker. I can always recall her wearing a uniform. She eventually became a chef and dietician.
She was my best friend. When I was still a kid...and really...so was she, I remember her telling me my first 'naughty' joke. I can still remember the look on her face when I didn't 'get' that one, either. She was still in her twenties, young and beautiful and a 'hoot'. I can still remember her sweeping me into her arms, when I was 9 and teaching me how to dance 'rock and roll jitterbug'. Like everyone in our family, sure, she was overweight, but I remember, upon seeing her all 'dressed up to the nines', in a gorgeous, shiny turquoise satin dress, exposing a bit of decolletage, and adorned with what appeared to be a real, shimmering, diamond-studded necklace. (they were real enough to me, and I still have that necklace, which I wear on special occasions, such as my son, Dan's wedding day...that way I 'take' Mom with me.) Her hair had glints of gold, sparkling like an angel's. She, unlike me, didn't really wear makeup. She didn't need it; she was naturally gorgeous. Only a touch of lipstick, then she "powdered her nose", and she was breathtakingly beautiful. (drat...those pictures of her are in the attic...I'll go bring them down some sometime.) I remember stopping in my tracks at the sight of her, and breathed, "Mama, you like just like Marilyn Mon-roll!!!...well, 'sept for being fat". Her girlfriend was horrified, at once, so then, so was I, suddenly realizing what I had said, but Mom, laughing so hard, interceded, saying, "...noooo, I know what she means...she thinks I look pretty, but I know I'm fat". From that I learned it was ok to laugh at ourselves. After all, it's not polite to laugh at other people. I like that she taught me not to be so serious about how I look. Sure, I had gotten burned as a very little girl and have scars on my face and body, and that people are going to be mean and rude about it, but scars are only evidence about what I had to endure...what I had to get through, to be able to be here today. She felt that life was too short as it is, not to have fun...there always had to be singing and music and dancing and laughing and cooking and joking going on. It's her legacy. (How she would have loved the Cajun joie de vivre philosophy!)
I almost wrote this post before Christmas, but didn't get the chance. As an example of her wackiness, one time, she took a picture of me while I was making a terrible face at her camera...I didn't think she'd really take it. I didn't really know how bad it was 'til the next Christmas. The whole big family was gathered around for the ususal Holiday get-together. How wonderful it was, with Grandma (Mom's mother) and all her kids and grandchildren. Aunts and Uncles and cousins. Paper and ribbons flying everywhere, as the flurry of gifts were being opened in front of the big, overly-decorated, as ususal, Christams tree. It had always been a tradition for Mom to have a couple of gifts tucked away in the branches of the tree for us, as well. After all the presents were open, Mom told me to go look more closely in the tree. All excited, I jumped up and leaned this way and that, inspecting every inch of every branch, all the while the kinfolk were snickering behind me. (Why?) Just as I spotted a tiny wrapped package...right in front of me, of all things...what was that standing on the branch just behind it?? Oh NO!!! That horrible picture Mom had taken months and months ago! Oh sure...everybody hadda go and burst into laughter about that one. From that day on, every single year she sneaked it back onto every single Christmas tree she ever had. I don't know how I'd forget from one year to the next, but somehow I seemed to...then, as an after-thought, I'd remember and go check. Sure enough, it was always someplace prominent. Hmmph. So, as a late (of course) Christmas gift to her, this year...and a good 'laugh' at myself today, in honor of our Birthday...here the danged thing is:

(I can't believe I'm actually posting this...and you can see for yourself, she colored it in, to make it stand out even more.)






This is Mom with four of her brothers, Uncle Spike, Uncle Keith, Uncle Duane and Uncle Bill. The other picture is of Mom with two of her grandchildren, my niece Chrissy and nephew Danny, Jr.
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