Saturday, May 8, 2010
When I Grow Up, I Want to Be Like Mom - Gibson
My mother, (God bless her unbuttoned heart) never encouraged me in the kind of relationships that would make me a mother myself.
Consider this entry in my childhood diary. I was ten years old.
I don’t know who you are or even if I’ll ever have you but if I do I hope you like pets. I have three. One is a hamster. We could clean out his cage together.
I also hope you would never want to hug or kiss because I don’t like that stuff.
The other day my mommy and me were looking out the window and we saw a couple lying on the grass together kissing and hugging and my mommy said it looked awful and I said that I thought it looked awful too so then me and my three friends got the garden hose out and turned the cold water on and sprayed the couple and got them wet.
Somehow that diary entry escaped its pages, and almost ten years later dropped in at my wedding. After our emcee revealed this bit of embarrassing literature to our guests, he, clearly relishing the moment, presented me with a gift. A squirt-gun. Then he went into some great length of detail on how I was to use it. In case the Preacher ever became amorous.
I didn’t need the lesson: my mother had already taught me.
Ahem, ahem. Two children, and three grandchildren later, it seems obvious: I misplaced the squirt-gun. Mom forgave me the instant she laid eyes on our babies.
At ninety-one, her mind as sharp as her best paring knife, but her plucky little body ravaged by a quarter-century of ill health, Mom prays fervently for all her progeny. She wishes we could live closer, she says. And she urges me to not work too late at night, get plenty of rest, and take good care of the Preacher.
“Are you cooking him good meals?” she asks sometimes, when I visit her in Chilliwack.
“Mother. Does it look like he’s starving?” I ask her. She giggles.
One day I mix a batch of her favourite cookie dough to freeze. She watches. I leave the room for just a moment. When I return, there she stands, grinning. Rolling the dough into balls, and with a sharp flick of her wrist tossing them onto the freezing-sheet across the table. As though they were pebbles, and she a child on the shore.
She giggles at my laughter. Later, with excruciating difficulty—her shoulders have come unraveled—she raises her arms. Cradles my face in both hands. Looks me in the eye. Says I’m a wonderful daughter and she loves me, and am I eating enough?
My mother (God bless her generous unbuttoned heart) doesn’t use words much. But for over five decades, she’s been my North Star in life and faith, humour and wit, mothering and grandmothering.
When I grow up, Lord...
Yeah, just like her.
Author and faith and life columnist, Kathleen Gibson. This column was published in Yorkton This Week and online at Sunny Side Up.