The way to love someone
is to lightly run your finger over that person's soul
until you find a crack,
and then gently pour your love into that crack.
~Keith Miller

Saturday, June 20, 2015


This was noted several years ago and I "put" it in the draft pile for awhile because it seemed too personal a thing to share.  Recently I was looking through "unpublished" stuff I've noted here and came across this and mostly ... it made me laugh ... my momma was a bit of a stinker, so what

I woke up this morning thinking about my mother. In a way I have been unfair to her here...she has been presented as one dimensional...partly because that is how I see her, but it is only fair to say - some people like her. She has some good qualities. I was born the year that the BarbieDoll was introduced. Women, like my mother, were busy playing bridge in their pointy brassieres under their "Jackie-esque" A line dresses. They wore their hair - big - lacquered - like margesimpson (just not blue). They watched "As the World Turns" and talked about Lisa as though she were a real person and not just a character in a soap opera. My mother kept our house impeccably clean. The smell of Clorox was pervasive and signaled a day well spent. My brothers wore jeans to play in that were starched, and I am not talking about this stuff we spray out of a can when we iron something. I'm talking about blue powder dissolved in the laundry and ironed after the spin cycle. You didn't have to hang my momma's ironing up - it'd stand on it's own before she was satisfied with it (just like her hair). My brothers would get outside - out of Mom's sight -and take off their blue jeans and wad them up, jump on them,drag them around - anything to get the "stiff" out. I didn't wear blue jeans. I was a barbie doll. I wore the truly most beautiful little smocked or appliqued dresses with matching "bloomers" (over my underwear). I cannot remember one single outfit that was actually appropriate for playing in. Momma noticed that the boys always came home filthy from playing outside (where all our playing was done). I learned to keep my little outfits tidy - of course I had a head start on my brothers because I could move around in my clothes with out stomping on them first. After several spankings received for tearing up my clothes while out at play (those cute little outfits took a lot of time to construct and I think were also symbolic to my mom of other things - like maybe what a great mom she was for creating such sweet outfits - and they were) I just started taking my top - usually a short dress - off, folding it or laying it out nicely and putting it on when the call came for dinner time. It made perfect sense to me and to my brothers and our friends. No more torn dresses from climbing trees or hopping over more grass stains or hand clothes looked almost as good as they did when I left the house that morning. (I have tried to remember lunches as a child but I don't - I'm sure she was feeding us lunch but I can't remember them - we always sat down to dinner together and seems like all were present for breakfast as well, but lunch I think we ate outside because I remember a water cooler on the back porch and I remember my mother playing cards and laughing with her friends at mid day ... I am sure we weren't missing meals, maybe my brother will remember.) My dresses started coming home in good shape because I took them off. There were a few things I didn't - all the dirt I was used to acquiring on my clothes was now on my skin - as were those little scrapes that sometimes tore my outfits - she noticed that when she supervised my bath but I guess she just didn't know what to think of that. The big light bulb moment occurred when she noticed that I had quite a lovely little tan above my very white little butt. You cannot imagine the uproar! She jerked me out of that bathtub so fast ... put me on my feet in a puddle of water and suds turned me round and around and told me to march straight to my daddy. Naked!?! I asked, looking for a towel - water all over the floor seemed almost as bad as a torn top. "March!" she commanded pointing to the doorway. I was petrified because I didn't have a clue as to what I had done now. My dad was surprised to see me too. Momma explained the suntan line and said some soandso had seen me out playing half naked and called laughing and the tirade went on and on with me standing there shivering - all goosebumps and big eyes. I didn't know what might happen but I knew my Daddy wouldn't spank me. I remember him looking over at me and winking - "she looks like that coopertone girl" he said "good grief, put her in something she can play in, she's a child for pete's sake". He laughed. He thought it was funny. "Why are you standing there? Go get your nightgown on", momma said. I was dismissed. I thought that was it. But next day - soon as Daddy was out the door - it was on! Momma didn't like being lied to and it was certainly a lie to leave the house dressed like a civilized little girl and then plan - PLAN - to play outside like a wild indian with no clothes on...just the top momma I'm sure I said...sassing - lying - embarrassing my family - embarrassing my brothers - making a laughing stock of her - the loud jagged words punctuated by spanking, slapping, pulling hair.  I was crying - she was screaming - we were all afraid of her. She probably scared herself. Eventually she gave up on me being the daughter she wished for...but it took a few more years. I was already "grown" and out of the house before I realised that she never hit us when my Dad was home. She never berated us when Daddy was home ... she was strict and not affectionate but not abusive. Daddy was her opposite - loving, fun, funny, amused by our antics and proud of us.

What good can I say about my momma? She did what she thought women were supposed to do. She was smart (kinda - we could pull things over on her pretty easily but I think that's because she didn't anticipate what we might be up to), she was an amazing over-achieving homemaker, her home was coulda shot a cleaning products commercial in any room in our house at any given moment - no notice required...she was always perfectly dressed and coiffed. She smelled better than anyone...she wore "My Sin, or Veil of Arpege" yeah - I snuck in there and looked at her perfume when ever I felt like it but you better bet I never picked up a bottle! She's 76 and still smells fabulous - I've seen her without all her make up on only maybe once ... don't remember when but surely I have right?!?! She was a wonderful cook too - that must have been her hobby. She was a lot of fun for my dad too - always laughing at his remarks and thinking of ways to make him feel good - or she was furious with him, packing us up in the station wagon and threatening to leave him for good this time...unless he straightened up... . My mom was a bully and a manipulator...guess that's why I don't like to hear myself lumped into "acting like a woman" it reminds me of when women did get their cues on how to act from the soap opera queens and it wasn't very real.
That's about all the good stuff I can think of about my Mom - she didn't care about other people - someone sick represented germs not someone who might need something.
I know something I really appreciate about her - she didn't teach us to hate people because of their race or religion...that might have been my dad because she does some trash talkin now.  She didn't care about God or church until I was about 12 - someone got her interested in the prosperity doctrine - where if you believe enough you can make God do whatever you want him to do - she's off that now because it didn't pan out. She's not really interested in anything except my brother and his business and what my children are doing that might be impressive for her to share with her friends. I call her with an update about once a month - I wish she liked to receive texts instead.
Guess that's my mom - She's pretty. She was always the prettiest mom in the room.


Jennie said...

I'm glad you've tried to find positive things about your mom! I too had to come to grips with the fact that my mom is no more perfect than i am! They did the best they knew how and now it is our turn to do our best for them! I hope you continue to try to see her in as positive light as possible for you! I enjoy your blog! Thanks for taking the time to journal your days! I liked the song "both sides" too!

DeAnn said...

~Jennie~ I have been thinking about you comment here. I feel bad that I don't have more nice things to say about my mom. I never had really considered the possible truth that she did her best. I like thinking about that - it's actually kind of a relief. She was an amazing housekeeper and cook - she was very interested in providing good nutrition and teaching good hygiene habits - I think you are right that she was trying to do her best most days. Thanks for helping me think about this. ~DeAnn

gretchenjoanna said...

Oh, Deann!
I used to have the worst time finding a Mother's Day card for my mother...but her sins were, compared to yours, all weakness and infirmity, and reading about your mother makes me feel a little less condemning of mine.
I'm so glad you had your father.

DeAnn said...

GJ ~ She was a hard teacher, and it was difficult to be her child. As an adult I realize that she was not well. As for her short comings, I know she would not have chosen to come up short. She was such a perfectionist ... She was complicated. Her close relationships were complicated. She made "complicated" common place for me. I need to write about the last six weeks I spent with her. As she passed I could see her "become aware" and I could see her intense remorse. As I held her close I whispered "I forgive you Momma, I did a long time ago. I love you, always have, always will." It, her death, was precisely like a birth. I witnessed her "healing", I caught a glimpse of her becoming enrobed in righteousness - becoming who/how God saw her. It was amazing.