Ooh, this is a fun one. This week's Fun Monday host, Jo at Chocolate and Other Things, wants to hear about our mom or grandma. Here are her instructions:
March 2nd is my Mom's birthday and was her mother's birthday as well. For this week's Fun Monday, tell me something fun about your mother and/or her mother. What fun, weird, laughable memories do you have of your Mom or your Grandma?
I have many fun memories of my mother and enjoy making new ones with her on a regular basis. Growing up, I always felt she was a little different than my friends' mothers. Mama liked to have fun. Oh, she made us do chores and was pretty strict with the discipline. (Remind me sometime to tell you about the time she spanked me with a wooden spoon.) But she has always enjoyed life and a hearty laugh. She's the woman in the theater who laughs too loud and too long. My good friend E. whom I've known since kindergarten reminds me every now and then of the time when we were kids and mama told us she wanted to ride an ostrich.
The older I get the more I learn about my mother and how wrong many of my assumptions about her over the years have been, especially when our conversations stray into politics and heavy issues like abortion and health care. It took me a long time to realize that she isn't defined solely by motherhood. That's she's a woman who has lived, loved and dreamed. I guess that's why I like this picture of her so much.
She's the one in the middle, standing in front of the airplane her daddy flew. That's two of her three siblings next to her. She is a poet with a deep appreciation of the written and spoken word, so I should probably thank her for my love of writing and reading. She took me and my brothers to the library all of the time when we were kids. The memory of her I'm sharing with you today isn't exactly a joyous one, but it makes me smile whenever she tells this story because it really does give me insight into the wonderful person that she is.
When I was really young we lived just outside of Chicago. I was the firstborn, and SuperCop didn't come along until I was five years old, so for a while I had mama to myself when daddy was at work. I have memories of sharing Dr. Pepper's and Hostess fruit pies at the beauty shop each week and riding the train to the southern tip of Illinois to visit my grandparents on weekends. Occasionally, mama babysat other kids to make a little money and to give me a playmate. When I was about four she started watching a baby during the day. The baby's parents were somewhat poor and had several other children and mama always felt like the baby probably didn't get the attention it needed. One night the baby's parents knocked on our door, said they'd had a fire at their house and asked mama to watch the baby for a few hours while they made arrangements for a place to stay. She did. However, a few hours stretched into several hours with no word from the family. The hours began to stack up, and mama had no way of getting in touch with the baby's parents. This was in the late 1960's when communication wasn't what it is today. Mama started to worry that something had gone wrong. The supplies the family had left with the baby ran out, and mama went to the store for more formula. I forget how much time passed, but after a few days it became obvious that the parents had left town. Mama went to the police station to report it. The police asked her to continue caring for the baby while they looked for the child's family. They found them. In neighboring Indiana. And while they made excuses for not calling mama or checking up on the baby, it was obvious to everyone involved that the parents probably had no intention of coming back for the baby. They had dropped her at mama's doorstep and tried not to turn around, but the police couldn't prove it. The parents thanked mama for taking care of the baby and took the child from mama's reluctant arms.
Over the years, mother has wondered about that child. Wondered what kind of childhood she had. Whether she was taken care of and what kind of life she leads now. Most of all she has wondered what would have happened if she had just kept the baby and never said anything to the police. In those days, she might have gotten away with it. She probably could have given some kind of story about a lost birth certificate, ordered another one and carried on as if nothing had happened. Maybe not. I know she has never forgotten about that child and even though she did the right thing, she's never felt comfortable with the decision to hand that baby back to those parents. And I've never heard her judge those parents, either. She considers the possibility that they made a desperate decision out of love for that baby. We'll never know, but I do know I love my mother very much for her choices with her own children and that little girl left on her doorstep.