She was my “How was your day at work?” person.
She was my “Guess what! I’ve got great news!” person.
She was my “How do you spell…” person. (She could spell any word I asked her.)
She was my “Where should we eat? We just ate there! We’ve eaten everywhere!.” person.
She was my “Will you do me a favor and go downstairs and get my laundry out of the dryer? I’m too exhausted.” person.
She was my “What movie should we watch tonight?” person.
She was my “Open the fitting room door: Does this shirt look ridiculous on me? It does doesn’t it? Ummmm. Yes.” person.
She was my “This tastes funny…you taste it. I’m not gonna taste it, if you say it tastes funny!” person.
She was my “Should we paint the living room ‘Delicate White’ or ‘Snowy Mountain’?” person. (We never did decide by the way. The paint cards are still taped to the wall.)
She was my best friend in the world. She was my mom.
She carried chocolate in her purse for me. I carried Advil in my purse for her. Because we couldn’t possibly remember to carry what we needed in our own purses.
She ate all the marshmallows out of the Lucky Charms. Every time I’d open a fairly new box and look in only to find cereal sans the charms she would deadpan, “Yeah, I don’t know why we keep getting these boxes that just have the cereal and no marshmallows. Weird.”
She liked carrots, coffee, chocolate, chocolate coffee, cookies, and cake donuts – not necessarily in that order.
She loved green peppers. At Subway she would ask for extra green peppers, then I also got them on my sandwich just to take them off and give them to her. She got black olives on her sandwich to give to me, so it was a fair trade. We were weird that way.
When we ate out, we had vastly different eating styles. I take a good five minutes “prepping” my food before I eat it. Taking off the stuff I don’t want, getting my on-the-side sauces ready, cutting the sandwich in half, etc. Mom was all about eating it while it was hot. We always joked that she was half done by the time I was ready to take my first bite.
Our favorite place to eat was Panera. We ate there so often we started branching out to other locations, so the workers wouldn’t think we ate there seven nights a week. It was really only like two nights, or three…and a weekend day…or two.
She was an excellent baker and made one of her specialties each week. I will miss those baked goods! I could learn to bake them too, and I probably will try, just for the fun of it, but it won’t be the same.
We liked the same music, movies, and tv shows. We were constantly quoting our favorites. We had umpteen voices and routines with which we entertained ourselves. We thought we were hilarious.
She sang all the time around the house. She was really good at making up songs. In fact, she was so good at making up lyrics she often accidentally made up lyrics for real songs. I remember the words to just about every song I’ve ever heard, but have a terrible singing voice. She had a great voice and no memory for lyrics. She’d be singing away and I’d be staring at her and she’d smile and trail off and say, “whaaaat? Those aren’t the words?” To which I’d reply, “Not. Even. Close. I like your version, though. We oughtta take it on the road.”
She hated competition. She didn’t like for anybody to lose, or for anybody’s feelings to be hurt. I’m okay with competition. I played sports for many years. But, I did, thankfully, inherit her desire to make people feel comfortable, included, and at ease. I still remember my mom told me once my kindergarten teacher told her at conferences, “Your daughter is nice to everyone. She goes up and talks to the kids that nobody else talks to.” Thanks, mom. I learned that from you and I’m proud of it.
She was a baby charmer. All she had to do was look at a little kid and smile and the kid would smile and run towards her. Even strangers in a store. We’d pass a baby in a cart and mom would smile and the baby would stare at her and turn around to watch her as we walked out of view. I’d say, “Well, you mesmerized another baby. I’m glad you use your powers for good.” Apparently, even baby strangers could sense mom’s innate sweetness and loving nature.
Above is one of my favorite pictures of mom. She had that same sweet smile until the end. Plus, I like her swinging 60s dress and her flip hairdo. Very Marlo Thomas from That Girl.
We loved to walk and we loved to shop. So, we combined them both by walking around malls and stores every night. We called Target our happy place. We would split up for 45 minutes and both look at whatever we wanted then meet up in the grocery area and speed around for the last twenty minutes before the store closed, getting the stuff we really needed.
We argued over silly things that two people who live in the same house argue about. Me: “Why do you leave your shoes scattered all over the kitchen floor?” Mom: “Why do you line yours up right where I trip over them?”
Though she was my best friend, she was still my mom, so she’d warn me when the jacket I was about to go out of the house in wasn’t going to be warm enough. Unlike in my childhood when being told to wear a jacket when going out to play with the neighborhood kids was totally uncool, I valued this advice as a grownup who always forgot to check the weather forecast before leaving for work. She was always right about jackets and umbrellas.
She instilled within me a lifelong love of reading. I was fortunate that my mom was able to stay home with me when I was little. She read to me three times a day. She liked to read too, and especially enjoyed children’s books. When I got older and was in elementary school she still read to me before bed, much longer every night than I’m sure she wanted to. One chapter always became two, and so on. I always had a book with me when we went shopping. I could follow her around walking through the racks of clothes, my eyes never leaving the pages of Nancy Drew or Little House on the Prairie or Anne of Green Gables or whatever series I was reading at the time. She didn’t even mind when I bumped into her…which I did. Often.
She always wanted to be a mom and she always loved it. Even when I stole her fish sticks. She loved telling the story of how she would get me all settled watching Mr. Rogers in the other room then make her fish sticks frozen meal in the oven. When it was done she would take it, sneak into the living room, and hide away in the far corner of the room to try to watch As The World Turns. She would just get ready to start eating, when who would come bounding in having caught a whiff of freshly prepared fish sticks? That’s right. Even though I had already eaten and there were only three small fish sticks in the meal, I would put my tiny hand on her leg and look up at her with a look that said, “Oh, yay! We’re having fish sticks, mommy!”, and she always gave me one. Her exact words when she told the story were, “You were too cute! I couldn’t resist!”
From the moment I was born she made me feel important. She always listened to me. She never told me not to bother her, or to come back later. Even though, as a grownup now, I know there must have been times when she wished I would just sit there and watch Mr. Rogers instead of stealing her fish sticks, she never let me feel it. I felt safe and loved and wanted and that her fish sticks were our fish sticks. My mom loved being a mom. And I loved being her daughter.