The time has come for a post about the happiness Mom brought into my life, and the lives of my siblings, and the lives of the school-kids she taught.
First, the school-kids: Mom was chorus director at the high school for years, (not sure how many, because that was when I left for college and parts unknown.) Every single student who sang in her chorus loved her — they still ask about her, and tell me to give her their love, whenever I see them. She brought a relaxed attitude, without letting go of the quality of the chorus; kids in our town who are now in their 40s and 50s have tons to say about the wonderful influence she had.
Mom also taught piano for many years — those students love her still, as well. She hears from, or gets news about, most of them on a fairly regular basis, and everything they say highlights her kindness, her patience, and the genuine affection she felt for her students.. She was the same way with the church choir, which she directed for, I believe, a couple of decades. No member of that choir would hesitate to do anything for Mom — she added fun and joy to the lives of every member of that choir, including me.
I don’t know my siblings’ personal stories with Mom, but I know this — when we were in Turkey, my parents made sure we saw everything — took wonderful advantage of living in such an exotic country, and awakened in all of us a love of travel, and an acceptance of all the different people we would meet throughout our lives. This gift seems more amazing every year, as I talk with people my own age who have never left the state, or who retain biased beliefs about others different from them. This is not something one teaches her kids — we learned that lesson because, throughout our childhoods, because Mom lived that example for us, and she does to this day.
For me, personally, despite the sad memories I’ve been facing lately, I remember times when I had a lot of fun with Mom. I was twelve, I think. One day, I sat on her bed while she got ready to go out — a meeting, a party, a lunch, something. She had a large, round, green Mary Kay makeup box that looked more like a hat box, filled with every color and kind of makeup an twelve-year-old girl (then!) could ever imagine. I remember asking her about one of the products — I think it was eye-shadow — and we ended up having fun talking about makeup. (Of course, I wouldn’t wear makeup until I was 16, but I made up for that in my twenties and thirties.)
Years ago, Mom gave me a blush from that kit, to wake up my pale face. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I used that blush for years, and got to the point where I was crushing the little leftover crumbs to get one more day from it. That little green compact is deeply embedded in the story of my life, and if I still had it, I would still be using it every day. When I buy blush, that is always the color I match.
Mom was my Girl Scout Leader for many years, and I remember a lot of adventures with the Scouts. When I was in Brownies, Mom and Dad took the troop, and the family, camping. I remember creating a cooker out of a coffee can and a bunsen burner. (One reason I remember it so well, now, is that I didn’t hurt myself making or using it!) I can see that little makeshift burner in front of me, and I remember learning to make eggs on a raft: two slices of cooked bacon, a slice of bread with a hole in the middle, and an egg cracked into the hole. That was magic.
You want to know a secret? I make myself one of those, minus the bacon, at least three times a week! They all still seem like magic!
I remember learning to dig clams. Mom, and all of us kids, would stand up to our knees in soft, gushy Atlantic mud when the tide was out, and rake up the clams. I think we only ever used those clams for bait. I do remember laughing my head off, standing there in the mud, with Mom, getting filthy and knowing it was okay. What a wonderful, sunny, hot, happy day that was, and many others like it.
These are a few of the good memories I have of times with Mom. There are many more, and I’ll write more of them soon. When I am working on the sad things, I often forget to say anything about happy times. And these were, indeed, very happy times. Thanks, Mom. I love you!