Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Tree

I have the house to myself again. I've got loads of laundry to catch up on. I should grab the checkbook and mail out some bills. I should finish cleaning out the attic for the upcoming Madison Circle Yard Sale. My parents were here for a few days to celebrate my mom's 66Th birthday. Her birthday coincided with Gibson's baptism. Mom and dad are his godparents.

I wanted mom to have a special birthday. My two brothers live mere minutes from my parents in Pennsylvania. My oldest brother has six kids and is a bit busy with trying to keep a job and keep a household from imploding. My other brother has one daughter and likes to sit in his recliner and pretend the world doesn't exist. I call him my baby brother even though he is a year and two days older than me. How can I gently say they are both a bit spoiled and don't exactly think of ways to make my mom's birthdays special.

My parents have always seemed ageless. I think I've always had this vision because it shrouds me from the future. My mom is a very complex woman with a novel worthy history. Only years later has she shared these tales with me. Her father was a decorated soldier, a smoldering eyeful of a man, who left them for another woman when my mom was less than two years old. My grandmother stood her ground and told him he could not have his cake(trollop) and eat it too! Divorce in those days was a heavy stigma for a Catholic child and my mother always felt the scratchiness of the cloak she wore. Grammy worked tirelessly to support herself and mom. Cleaning office buildings, working in factories. My mother often would help her mother after hours in these life sustaining laborious efforts. Grammy often told mom "No matter what work you do, always do it with pride and to the best of your ability."

My mom was a dark haired beauty, much more sophisticated and older in appearance. These blessings were also her curse, bringing the attention of men. She had a lonely childhood with Grammy round the clock working. She would spend summers with relatives. Some of her stories are lighthearted, in the kitchen along side NaNo and NaNa baking, chasing chickens in the backyard. She was the rescuer of mangled cats and would nurse them back to heath. She was often seen pushing a baby pram with a cat tucked up to its little nose with a blanket and a baby bonnet around its head. There were other stories of wandering the neighborhood at night, looking into the windows of houses where inside the glow of family dinners together made her so despondent.

Years later, as a child I remember when Grammy would come from New York to visit us. She lived close to Yankee Stadium and had remarried. I remember my mom was so happy when Grammy stayed with us. They would spend hours in the kitchen cooking and baking and laughing, always laughing! Mother and daughter relationships are to me the most complex. There are so many layers to this wonder. I look into my mother's eyes and see this woman who has overcome so much, has raised four children, who is the proud grandmother of thirteen grandchildren, who is a beautiful grayish sixty six years of wisdom, aches and pains, perverse sense of humor, gourmand extraordinaire, published poet, nature communicator, secret keeper, partner in crime, book loving, coffee sipping, Scrabble champion, quiet deep in thought woman. I know she has more to say, but chooses not to. Not just yet. Bit by bit she is telling me her secrets, bit by bit I am discovering my mother and cracking the complex code.

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