I took a much needed break after that A to Z thing but then I lost my ‘words’. Then I started to lose me. So…I thought I better start talking…again.
Like a lot of you today ‘I Remember Mama.’ If you’ve been coming around here for any length of time, you know I talk a lot about my Daddy. Rarely, do I mention Mama. Daddy was bigger than life itself, BUT Mama was the woman at his side every step of the way. They were a crazy pair and I’m the luckiest person on earth to have been raised by these two. Things were never dull around our place and although one of the Social Services - Child Protection Agency in existence today probably would have turned purple in an effort to protect ‘this child’, I loved almost every minute of my time growing up.
Daddy was a big city cop who got a furlough (vacation) of one month every year. From as long as I can remember he usually took that time off in June or August. Daddy loved to fish. Mama loved Daddy so she, of course, loved fishing too. (I say that ‘tongue in cheek’; she really did love to fish) So…we would load up the car and head north to Minnesota, the Land o’ Lakes, Leech Lake in particular. Leech Lake sits in the center of the Leech Lake Indian Reservation home to the Band of Ojibwe. I loved my summers at the Lake, but I do not like to fish.
When I was old enough my parents would leave me on shore to hang out with the other kids from families staying at the same resort. (Just so you aren’t mislead into thinking resort means some sort of Club Med. experience. This was a band of primitive cabins settled on the lake shore, normally surrounding a lodge of sorts that housed the bar a jukebox and endless nights of rowdy times.) When I was younger I spent endless hours along with Mama and Daddy, in a small aluminum boat with a 10hp outboard motor attached at the back. Normally I was laid out on the bottom on the boat between two seats with a stack of books.
One hot afternoon, I had read until my eyes were crossed, it was hot; I wanted out of the boat and was looking forward to getting back to the resort and going swimming. I’m sure I was just winding up in some childish and yet elaborate version of ’are we there yet?’ when my mother started ‘the lecture’. In my defense I was probably half asleep when I looked over and thought ‘you old walrus’ (yep, that would me, not terribly original and why I called her a walrus I’ll never know). When my mother leapt up, almost capsizing the boat, with fire in her eyes and said “”what did you call me?” that’s when I realized I had not thought it, but said it out loud.
Now the boat is rockin’, Daddy is shouting at Mama to calm down, Mama is looking for a weapon and I can’t stop laughing. (Yes, there you have it folks, I know exactly what I’ll do when certain death looks me in the face, I laugh at it or with it or something.) Now my folks fished with those long fiberglass poles, Mama already had one in her hand, so, she steps up on the seat above me and gives me a whack. Man that hurt, but I can’t stop laughing. This only makes Mama more angry so she says;”do you think that’s funny?” accompanied by two more whacks with the fishing pole. My life is spared when some folks my parents recognize, motor their boat within hailing distance (They were probably attracted by the sight of this woman up on the seat of the boat whipping a pole through the air.) Daddy waves and asks them ’what’s biting’, Mama steps off the seat and looks over smiling, like her standing up there was just some every day thing and says to me in a ’stage whisper’ wait until we get home. I stay in the bottom of the boat, rubbing my hip where the fishing pole connected and try not to laugh. (That whole walrus thing must have struck me as funny or something) by the time we got back to shore all was forgotten (well almost all, I had a pretty good welt on my leg. I played that to the max, stopping just short of a pronounced limp), I distinctly remember that evening down in the lodge being a lot of fun. Daddy even danced with me, where he took the opportunity to remind me how much my mother loved me and to never ever call her a walrus again.
Probably not your normal ’I Remember Mama’ on this Mother’s Day, but there wasn’t much ’normal’ about my family and it is one of my most vivid memories of my Mama. I love that crazy woman more than words can express.
Mama died when I was still young. My parents were old when I was born and she only got sixty-eight years in this life. I never remember her saying something ‘bad’ about another person. She came from a large family (nine siblings) and she was always the first to help any one of them out. She kept the family together with holiday gatherings after her mother died and my cousins all speak lovingly of Aunt Eleanor. She died with my oldest child was a toddler and was not there with my second baby was born. That was probably when I missed her the most.
I’m not fond of Mother’s Day. It feels like a ‘greeting card holiday’ invented to grant absolution for all the mean things children do to their mothers the rest of the year. That’s probably just me. I’m sure my list of mean things is longer than most, but you know what, Mama never stopped loving me and her love was unconditional. I do my best to live my life without regrets. In truth, I only have one and it has to do with Mama, but I’m not gonna tell you about that today.
Today I salute my Mama. I am who I am because of her (the good parts of me anyway). I love you and I respect you Mama, with all of my heart.