Monday, May 09, 2011

Fun Monday - Memories of Mother

Roger's at it again this week with this Fun Monday challenge:
With Mother's Day this weekend, the topic came to me pretty easily, even if the subject might not (ooh, a mystery?). Anyway, for this week, let us all share some memories of good ol' mom - although I wouldn't call her old to her face. :)

I have lots of memories of my mother.  They probably aren't the kind that you would think of.  Great meals, lovely home, sitting on her lap as she read stories... 

First of all, she was a mother of six.  Though she didn't work outside the home (except for a brief period of time while pregnant with the last kid), there was usually an air of frazzled-ness about her.

Meals were whatever was inexpensive and what we would mostly eat.  We loved the tuna on toast and turned up our noses at anything with mushrooms or tomatoes in it.  By necessity, her cooking was dumbed down to please as many babyish palates as possible. 

The lovely home was sort of a lost cause too.  Too many dirty feet and careless tossings of clothing and toys, in spite of her best efforts.  And her best efforts were pretty good.  I remember her decorating our bedrooms and the seasonal decor of our livingroom.  Spring and summer saw white (!) slipcovers on the chairs and couch and light floral curtains but the first nip in the air brought out the dark plaid curtains and brown slipcovers.  Our house was never fancy - but it was comfortable and we loved her efforts.

Story time?  Well, that was Dad's venue.  I suspect that story time was when she would go pour herself a glass of wine and retreat to the bathroom for a hot bath or her bedroom for some quiet reading time.  When Dad put us to bed, Mom was rarely in evidence.  I think she might have had quite enough by the end of the day!

What I remember the most about my mom is what Dad calls her "enthusiasms."  Endeavors that probably kept her sane.

My earliest memory is of her painting.  The little house we lived in had a screened in porch that became her santuary.  She'd set up her easel and canvas, squirt out her oils on a palate and paint.  She painted some from her head and some from pictures.  She did some pretty awesome paintings.  One of my Aunt Jill was just gorgeous.  And there was one of my brother John.  And one of a man and his llama that she got out of a National Geographic magazine hung in our house for many, many years.  Later, years later, John and I went up into the attic to get Christmas decorations down and found a bunch of her canvases.  We spent some time up there, looking at each one and reminescing about her "painting phase."  To this day, I can't smell turpentine without thinking of  Mom creating art on the side porch.

Mom was also a great seamstress.  This was one enthusiasm that lasted.  She took sewing classes at Gilbergs and owned a lovely little Kenmore sewing machine.  She made clothes and pjs and robes for all of the kids.  I had some gorgeous little dresses (though at the time I wasn't as appreciative as I could have been).  My brother Matt wore Mom's creations almost exclusively as a toddler.  She even taught me and my friend Mandy the basics of sewing.  Over a couple of weekends, we managed to turn out a couple of dresses and blouses that we actually wore.  After a while, the sewing turned to home decorating, and eventually costuming.  We had some of the BEST costumes as kids.  When James joined the Young Actors Theatre, she began costuming plays.  She continued sewing until her eyesight began to fail, and is looking forward to picking it back up when her eye procedures are finally done.

Photography followed soon after.  She took a class and did marvelous work in black and white.  Lots of pictures of us kids, and dogwood flowers.  She liked taking people pictures.  We are lucky she was in this phase when we went to England as a family in 1972.  She took some beautiful pictures of my great grandmother Wynne and my grandmother Jocelyn.  Back at home, she had a darkroom built in the garage.  We loved to play on top, like a tree house inside, while she was inside developing her pictures.  For a while, my childhood was permeated by the smells of developer and fix and those scents are entangled with my cousin's Barbie dolls that she would bring over to play on top of the darkroom.

After photography, came crochet.  I went with her to the Gilberg's classes this time and learned right along with her.  She was pretty good at it.  Me?  Not so much.  I could do it, but I never could get my tensions right and would lose count and things turned out kind of lopsided - not attractive at all.  I quit after many attempts at creating something lovely, but Mom kept going.  When I lived in Oklahoma, in some of the coldest weather ever experienced by me, she sent me a scarf she made.  Oh, it was beautiful!  And soft!  and so warm!  It was long enough to wrap around my head AND my neck.  It quickly became my most treasured possession (having grown up in Florida and never really experiencing the cold).  I still have that scarf and even though I'm back in Florida, it does occasionally get cold enough to wear it.

There have been other enthusiasms that she's developed.  Ancestry was there for a bit.  My grandmother started it and she picked it up.  I don't know if she's still into that.  Cleaning methods popped up for a bit.  Relearning how to cook really well from the Food Network was one we ALL appreciated.  We wait to see what the next one will be.

I suppose, with a mother like that, it's not surprising that I'm forever trying on different hobbies.  Some fit quite well, others not so much.  But like my mother before me, I expect my love of learning new things will stick with me for the rest of my life.


Island Rider said...

Is that you? It looks like Z Boy, but I think it is you. Beautiful girl, lovely photography. Does your mom still take photos?

Georgia Girls said...

I love the idea of your mother's "enthusiasms." I get those all the time.

Roger said...

What an awesome mom! Doesn't sound like she was afraid to try her hand at anything... Has she tried skydiving yet? :)

Thanks for participating!

Sandy said...

I think that the "love of learning" is one of the greatest gifts that anyone can give.

Thanks for reminding me of the matching dresses my mom used to make for my sister and me...I love them. My sister, who was 13 years older than me, was not so

Molly said...

We all excel in different areas. Your mom excels in her enthusiasms, which seem to be many. Interesting, my Dad is the one who read me bedtime stories too.

Sayre said...

Island Rider - that's me! I used to be pretty cute...

Georgia Girl - I do too.

Roger - nope, no skydiving. She let one of my brothers do it for his 16th birthday though!

Sandy - I hope I can pass a love of learning to my son like my mom did for me.

Molly - My mom really did excel in everything she tried. She studied and practiced everything she tried her hand at.

PinkPiddyPaws said...

I just saw sticker that reads: "I don't have "hobbies" I'm developing a robust Post-Apocalyptic skill set".

Sounds like your Mom!! :)

Native Mom said...

Great mother's day post. I was thrilled to see you mention tuna on toast. My mom would make that for my sister and I whenever my dad had to work late (cause he hated tuna on toast). It has always been comfort food to me. In fact, when I came home after giving birth to my daughter that's what she made me to eat. And it was as good as ever!

Pamela said...

I wrote about my mama last year, I think. She had 8 children, no money, a very humble old house with an outdoor toilet until the mid 1950s.. I don't know how she did it.