I know this post won’t be of interest to anyone but my family, but I need to write about it–for my sake. I know I have been rambling on my blogs, lately, and I apologize for that. I just need to get some things out.
My Aunt (my Dad’s sister) made the comment on one of my recent blog posts that I was like my mother. (Thank you, Aunt Suzanne, for loving my family so much. I appreciate you so much, and I have so enjoyed our correspondence in later years. I consider you a friend, and in a way, a substitute–someone to step in and ease the pain of losing my mother. I love that you loved her so much.)
My Aunt’s comment got me to thinking a lot about my mother…how much I miss her…and I have had several good cries this morning. I think that especially since I have been learning about Introverts and Personality types (which fascinates me), it has shed a lot of light on who my Mom was, and why she was the she was. Though I think we both understood each other (since were so alike), I think I understand her better, now.
When my Mom died after a long struggle with Emphysema, I had a hard time dealing with the loss. I retreated into ‘zombie-mode’ for a long time after that. Her downward health spiral lasted about four years. She was pretty much house-bound, and couldn’t cook or take care of the house much. At times, this seemed to bother her more than her illness. My Sister and Dad bore the responsibility of taking care of her and the house, but I went up there for weeks at a time to help out, and to spend time with her. I’m so grateful to Bud for allowing me to spend so much time away from him at that time. That time with her, though difficult, was precious to me.
They say we each grieve differently. Some people need to talk about it, reliving the memories, and go through their lost loved-one’s things. I couldn’t talk about her or even think about her because the pain was so devastating. We needed to go through her things, and I couldn’t do it. Someone (who I am not faulting) brought out a bag of her things and started pulling it out, and I burst into tears. I think, to this day, I have not fully dealt with the loss of my mother.
I really think Mom was an INFP or something very similar. Thank you for pointing it out, Aunt Suzanne. I realize that we all saw different things in her. This is how I knew her.
I’m also going to point out that Bud took the test, too, and to my surprise, shock and delight, he is also an INFP. Who knew? It surely explains a lot of things.
My mother was born on August, 10, 1939. She was the baby of 4 children, all girls. Her middle name was named after a neighbor, Lodema, and that is the name my mother went by all her life. Her sisters and my Dad called her, “Dema”. Her Mom and Dad were of German stock. Her Father was full blooded German, and could speak German fluently; her mother was half German (to my recollection). One of the childhood recipes that my Mom carried into her adulthood was ‘Kraut Soup’ made of pork chops- fried, then added to a soup of potatoes and sauerkraut (with the delicious browned bits and fat from the porkchops added to it.)
I wish I could talk to my Mom now about her childhood. I don’t remember a lot of what she did tell me, but I do remember that in her childhood, their house burned down. I also know that they were poor. She struggled with her weight, and was very self-conscious about it for most of her life. In High School, she lost a lot of weight, and became a twirler in the band. She was also a drummer in the band, and met my Dad in Band. My Dad played the trumpet. They met when he came up to her asked her if she would teach him how to play the drums. (Smooth, Dad…very smooth). It obviously worked. They were married shortly thereafter and were married until she passed away in 2002.
She was a housewife and mother most of her married life, and she took it very seriously. Though we struggled financially at times, she always made sure all of her children were all clean and pretty. She worked hard at it. I believe her self-esteem was tied into how people perceived us, which would indicate (in her mind) how good of a job she was doing as a mother.
My Mom rolled my, and my sisters’ hair in sponge rollers every night, and my Mom spent a lot of time fixing our hair in the mornings so that we looked pretty for school. I even remember her teasing our hair, which was popular in the day, and it was all sprayed with hair spray when it was perfect. Our clothes were ironed every day and it was important to her that we always look neat and clean. She spent a lot of time trying to get every crease in our clothes just perfect when she ironed.
She did everything she did with gusto and she gave everything she had into any project she took on. She went the extra mile. If she volunteered to make cupcakes for a school party, they were the BEST cupcakes anyone had ever made. She sewed all of my costumes I ever needed for school or other things, and she also sewed all of my band dresses, and several of my band banquet dresses. They were all perfect, and the job done better than anyone else’s Mom had done.
She liked to be called ‘Mama’. That’s what she called her Mother. Somewhere along the way, I cut it short to ‘Mom’, and she never really liked that. I’m sorry, Mama.
My mother was a fabulous cook. She was able to take a few ingredients, and make it into a fabulous meal. She had the ability to eat something at a restaurant, and copy it at home to the point that it tasted just like the restaurant. It was important to her to have enough to eat so that no one would ever be hungry. She wanted everyone to eat to their fill. Consequently, she always cooked for an army when we had company over, and everyone loved her cooking. She was the ‘Hostess with the Mostest’ and she always did it up right…but she didn’t do it really often. I always consider it to be a great compliment when one of my siblings tells me my food tastes ‘just like Mom’s’, because that is what I strive for.
It took a lot for her to have people over. She stressed over it…needed to have enough food for everyone…wanted the house to be clean and perfect. When she was able to push herself to get everything ‘just so’ and have everyone over, she so enjoyed herself!
Looking back, knowing what I know about myself now, I can see that she put so much of herself into what she did that she wiped herself out and didn’t want to do it again for a long time. She whipped herself up into such a frenzy of needing everything to be perfect, and her self-esteem was so tied into her performance, that she exhausted herself before she ever got started. Often, she defeated herself before she ever started.
She worked so hard on keeping our house clean. This woman even scraped the wax out of the floorboard of our hardwood floors with a knife! She also washed down venetian blinds. She was always cleaning something, and she enlisted our help, too. I hate housework, and I often feel a lot of guilt because I can never measure up to her. In fact, I usually ‘crisis-clean’ when company comes over because I let it go the rest of the time. In my mind, if I can’t do it perfectly then I can’t do it at all. Not good…and I’m working on it.
She had a low opinion of herself and her abilities. She could never quite accept her job of ‘well-done’. Her ‘perfect’ was never quite perfect enough for her. Her achievement of ‘perfection’ was only ‘adequate’ in her eyes. Oh how I wish she could have seen what a creative, intelligent, empathetic person she was. Moreover, I wish that she could have seen that she was loved by her Heavenly Father, just-as-she-was…that she didn’t have to perform or achieve in order to be loved and accepted. Nor did she have to look perfect or pretty in order for people to like her. She was likeable for who she was. Nonetheless, these things tormented her.
Though she considered herself to be overweight, she was really a very tiny woman in my view. She mostly skipped breakfast and lunch, and she could really pack the food away at supper. People were always impressed with how much she could eat. She relished her food, and loved to eat. Food (GOOD food) was always part of every gathering, or outing. I remember that when we would take a day trip to the beach, she always fried chicken and made potato salad to take with us. She always cooked our favorite meal for our Birthday, and her cakes were a work of art.
There is a story she loved to tell about when she was pregnant with me. She was in line at Whataburger and her water broke. She told the cashier, “Please hurry, lady, my water just broke.” She then went home and ate her Whataburger meal before she went to the hospital. She always hastened to add that you are not supposed to eat before you deliver a baby. To this day, Whataburger is my favorite fast-food burger.
My Mom often altered hand-me-downs for us, as well as herself. She always looked good when she went out. In later years, one of my neighbors said they use to all keep a watch out to see what my mother would be wearing when she came out to the car to go to church. She told me that they looked at Mom as the ultimate in fashion. She had the ability to work with what she had and to make us all look good.
My mother was a good listener. She asked a lot of questions as her conversational style. Knowing what I know now about Introverts, it was her way of making painful social interactions more bearable. She often didn’t talk much and listened intently. Her delivery was slow, like mine…but you could see her mind was always working. Often she would make a comment out of the blue on something we had been discussing 10 minutes before.
She was a deep-thinker. I know, like me, she replayed in her mind interactions and conversations with people. Sometimes they were pleasant, other times, she tormented herself with it. Often she would be so deep in thought, that we would tease her with, “Earth-Calling-Mother…Earth-Calling-Mother,” to snap her back into our world and out of her thought-life.
My mother felt deeply, and like me, she often hid the hurt she felt. One would probably never know how deeply she had been hurt. Often, hurt comes out as anger. Though I share this quality, I’ve learned the importance of forgiveness and releasing these things because they eat at you on the inside if you don’t. It’s what my Heavenly Father requires and it’s ultimately worth it. There were some hurts that were so deep in my mother’s life, I’m not sure she was ever able to release them. I know she wanted to.
My mother was a good friend. She didn’t have a lot of friends, but to the few she had, she was the most loyal friend you could ever have…unless you betrayed her. She put so much of her heart and soul into the friendship that if she was betrayed, it was hard for her to ever trust again. She put every ounce of being…bared her very heart on a platter with those she trusted. The pain of betrayal did not heal easily.
She always tried so hard to do the right thing…to be virtuous…to be a good example of a Christian woman, wife and mother, but she always fell short of who she wanted to be, and she couldn’t give herself any leeway to be imperfect. Like me, there are some things we hate so much about ourselves, that only the Lord can deliver us from. I wish she’d had the knowledge I have about this today, and that she could have learned to rest in the fact that the Lord loved her anyway…even though she was not perfect.
My Mom was one of the most empathetic people I ever knew. In spite of her own insecurities, she always lent a helping hand to whoever needed it, whether it was cooking a meal for someone who had a death in the family, or sewing something that needed sewn. She sewed some smocks for the nursery workers at a church one time. Several women volunteered to do some of them. Oh, how she fretted over those things, but hers looked so much better than those that the others had done!
There was one time that a single mother down our street, who she barely knew, but who had a daughter that my sister played with, hurt her back and was laid up. My Mom found out about it, and cooked a meal for this woman, took it down to her, and rubbed Ben Gay on her back to ease her pain. She didn’t even know this woman! Who does that kind of thing? She was a much better woman than I am. She, too, could find something good or redeeming in everyone.
In later years, we enjoyed coffee together…especially morning coffee. We could just sit there, enjoying the morning and not even saying much sometimes. We just enjoyed the quiet camaraderie, and the essence of the morning. She loved her coffee just as much as I did, if not more. She would keep a thermos of coffee and drink it all day long! She preferred to drink coffee, rather than water, and she liked to drink it black. She could be out in the sun walking for exercise during the summer, and then come inside and drink hot coffee to quench her thirst. She often had a cup of coffee right before going to bed.
Though My Mom’s self-esteem was low and she didn’t have very much confidence in her abilities, she went to Cosmetology school at the age of 49. She had always been interested in hair. She cut her own hair. She also cut my and my sisters’ hair, and also gave us countless ‘perms’. As a perfectionist, she often cut and cut and cut, trying to make it even or perfect. One time she cut on my sister’s hair so much that she had to take her down to the Beauty School (It was lower cost and money was a concern) to fix it. My mom had cut so much off of my sister’s hair, that they had to give her a pixie cut that was probably no longer than an inch all over to even it out. I know my older sister has at least one picture where her bangs are about an inch from her hairline, no doubt, a product of my Mom’s forays into hair-cutting. I had my share of bad haircuts, too. Needless to say, we were very glad when she went to Cosmetology School. She had the highest grade in the class, and won many accolades from her instructors. It was such a big step for her to do something like that. She never really enjoyed school, and didn’t have confidence in her abilities. She only had one job for three days cutting hair. She hadn’t worked outside of the home much, and there was a lady whose hair she cut that was not pleased. My Mom came home and cried and cried, mostly, because she wanted the lady to be pleased, knowing how important a good haircut was to her, and she felt she had failed. Her boss thought she did fine, and tried to reassure her. The lady whose hair my Mom had cut, died three days after that, and my Mom quit hair cutting as a profession.
It’s no secret to those who know me that I really don’t enjoy talking on the phone. There was a time that my Mom and I talked on the phone every day. Often, we would just sit there on the phone in silence (long distance) and enjoy each other’s company. She is the only person I’ve ever been able to do that with and feel comfortable…without the pressure of having to say something. One or the other of us would eventually think of something to say in between silence. We had a lot of the same interests.
She understood me…and I understood her.
Please understand that every family has pain. Our families have the potential to hurt us the most deeply. I know my sisters, Dad and brother might see her differently. I have purposely concentrated on the good things, of which there are many. I’m choosing to let the other things go, and concentrate on the good things, and this is the way I see her.
I’m grateful that I can look back and see so many good things about her, and more importantly, to see her pain that might have led to anything negative.
PS: C–you asked me once if I had the twirler picture. I honestly did not think I had it. I found it amongst some of her stuff I had in a box several months back, and then forgot about it until today. You are welcome to have it if you want it. Just let me know. I also have most of the pictures that M took of our family way back when. I think I gave the rest of them to L. I have very few family pictures at all now.