Lessons from Mom
I wrote this a few years ago for a memoir course, and also a mother’s day present. Thought I’d share a bit with you guys. Here’s the first part…and a picture of Mom & Martie a few years before the memory below. Mom’s the pregnant one in the yellow shirt.
My early memories are like old home movies. They are in color, but slightly out of focus, and run either a little too fast or a little too slow. There is no sound, but there is a suggestion of laughter and summer. The dust particles show in the beams of light, and everyone is happy. I’m sitting on the floor beside my mother, I am four years old and we live in St. Albans. We are hunched over a pair of scissors as Mom works a piece of folded paper into a string of people holding hands. I love the little triangles that float to the floor, sometimes four or five at a time, nestled inside each other. The light filters through my mother’s light brown hair. She is pregnant, as is her friend Martie, and they are both glowy in the afternoon light.
Where Dad always lectured the lessons, Mom seemed to demonstrate.
Lesson: Who needs expensive toys when you’re creative?
We lived in that duplex in Ordinance Park in St. Albans until the summer of 1979, when I turned five. We moved to a tiny house (but bigger than the duplex) up a hill off Big Tyler Road in Cross Lanes. At one end of our living room, near the door, sat Mom’s cedar chest. The hinges and lock were broken, and the lid was too heavy for us to hold up on our own, so we weren’t allowed to get into it without Mom. Inside the cedar chest was a magical store of fabric and ribbons, beads and paint. Mom might pull out fabric paint to decorate stained t-shirts to extend their life (and fun factor), or work on that year’s Christmas presents, but we could usually talk her into making something with us if we caught the lid open.
Lesson: Always make time for fun.
We are all sitting on the floor in front of the cedar chest, and Mom has a needle and thread in her hand. Tiny seed beads rattle around in a babyfood jar beside her.
“The first thing you have to do is tie a knot in the thread. Do you remember how I taught you to do that?”
Nathan & I nod, and Abi sucks contentedly on her pacifier.
Mom carefully picks out two red beads, a yellow bead, and two more red beads.
“I’m going to make a pattern. When you put the colors in different orders on each row, you get a pattern.”
We don’t really understand, but that doesn’t stop us from staring intently as Mom finishes a Indian beaded ring for herself.
“Now, do you want to try to make one?”
“No Mommy, I want you to make me a blue one!”
“And I want a green and white one!”
“Ok, you can each make one for yourselves in whatever colors you want, but I’ll help.”
For the next hour or so, our chubby child fingers pick out those tiny beads and feed them onto string. Mom helps with turning the rows and finishes off our beaded rings.
Lesson: Be patient and pay attention and you might learn something wonderful!