Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you and to all of the mother figures in your life  who are equally important. I remain in awe of the strong women who've been in my life. My sister, my mom and her six sisters. And I’m gratified that LFG has a loving mother.

My mother and her sisters were a tight knit group. I say were because there are only three left and as a pragmatist, I’ll be surprised if all three are here for Mother’s Day 2012. My mom is the baby of ten kids and at 81 years old, she’s as frail as ever.
She and her sibs were close not only in familial connectedness but also geography. So really, I grew up with six additional loving, surrogate mothers who wiped my face and hugged me and tended to me and disciplined me when necessary. And I loved them all. It’s difficult to for me to articulate how much I cherished growing up with all of these people as consistent, loving components of my life. These women were strong…they really were…steel magnolias. Go here for some visual and narrative context.

So last month amidst the only non-travel week I had, my conscience and God weighed heavily on me to go home. My mom was quick to admonish me to “wait till June when you can bring LFG” but I would have none of it. My mom had been in the hospital with yet another transient bout of pneumonia and my brother was there, tending to all of things typical. My manic March hadn’t allowed me a moment to do more than make phone calls to check-in down there and I had to go for a few days to pitch in.
And then there was the issue of my Aunt Kat. She’s the next oldest and till recently, the healthiest. I’ve loved all of my aunts but she’s always been my favorite. She’s a damn titanium magnolia if there ever was one. But in early April she ended up with hospital acquired pneumonia and on a respirator. This is a slippery slope for old folks. Hip fractures and pneumonia are the grim reapers geriatric dispatch tactics. That’s my Aunt Kat on the left, then my mom and aunt Selma. Yes, my Aunt Kat gets her “A” capitalized. Shut up.

Folks, there’s no mawkish or maudlin intent here. This is a script…one that each of us with aging family members inevitably has to read and then usually…perform a part in the immutable production. And to that end, when they took my Aunt Kat off the vent and sent her to hospice, my brother and I were looking at our schedules and speculating about getting back home in time to be pallbearers. No tears…just gratitude for having loved ones who've lived this long. The hospice folks had already started humane doses of morphine to comfort my Aunt Kat in her exit. And like my buddy R.E.B. who I said goodbye to a little over a year ago, I’d have gone to say goodbye to Kat in person but she was no longer coherent.
And then...she gradually became lucid. And then…she started asking for people and food and other comfort oriented things. Three days later she’s as lucid as ever and Hospice, of course, kicked her out and she ended up in a long term care facility. So you know now why I had to get home. I’d have never forgiven myself if I hadn't made it home to visit with my Aunt Kat. She’s recovering splendidly and will be out of long term care in another week.

I stayed with my Aunt Kat most of the first day I was home…with my mom’s blessing. I knew she was going to be ok because she was gossiping her ass off. Filling me in on who else was in the long term care center and regaling me with stories about what these people had done over the years…scandalous and sublime. Stuff like… “You know that Tootie Mae Johnson is over in room 36…your daddy used to date her before he married your mama. Go peek in there and see what you’d a looked like if he’d married that old hussy”. Yep, my Aunt Kat was gonna be ok.
On a respirator and Hospice bound one week and tending to me two weeks later. Kat was moisturizing her lips with a little tube of petroleum jelly when she spotted my dry elbows. “Give me those elbows”…and she proceeds to tune me up with a dab of her lip balm. The same maternal, service to others predisposition that all my mother’s sisters demonstrated to everyone.

LFG and I will see my mom and Aunt Kat next month and Kat will probably, after giving LFG a few jars of homemade jam, find one of us to daub some moisturizer on or reach over and straighten a collar or wipe a mouth. So I dedicate most of today’s Mother’s Day gratitude to my Aunt Kat. “Give me those elbows”…
And here’s last year’s post….

Women are stronger than men. Don’t argue this with me.
My mom...LFG's namesake...a teenager...a stellar mom to be.

I think this little ditty by the Intruders is appropriate for today..

My mom the Salutatorian, penned this speech...
I used to read it when I was a kid and would just say " didn't write this". The first few years of school saw my mother learning the proverbial Three-R's under the glow of an oil lamp. 

Mom… thanks for:
1. Making me feel unequivocally safe as a little kid. The three of us are forever girded with the incredible gift of having been raised by one of those quintessential “super-moms”.
2. Reading 
Prince Bertram the Bad and Cat in the Hat to me a thousand times.
3. Believing that it was child abuse to send a kid to school without a hot breakfast every morning.Thanks for consistently providing us one for 18 years.
4. Telling me swiftly and without equivocation when I was 14 that if I pierced one of my ears, I would be sleeping in the back yard for the rest of my life. This is why you remain unaware of the tiny tattoo on the top of my right foot.
5. Always being at Cub Scouts-Boy Scouts-Girl Scouts and everything else while Dad was playing poker.
6. Letting us stay in the pool till our fingers were “pruny”.
7. Making me feel loved even though I was pissed about no longer being the baby of the family after 10 years. What were you thinking…having another one? I’m glad you did though.
8. Talking with me about how a parent could have God first in their lives and still love their children unconditionally. I’m beginning to have these discussions with LFG and the lessons I learned from you remain valuable.
9. Showing the world how a stay at home mom could, with dignity and strength, join the workforce after becoming a widow with a first grader, high school sophomore and a college freshman. I still don’t know how you did it. On second thought, yes I do.
10. Letting me come home on Sundays when in college, hung-over, hungry, broke and laden with dirty laundry.
11. Sending me back to the fratty house less hung-over, well fed, less broke with clean laundry.
12. Apologizing after your perimenopausal rage manifested in a Topsider upside my college boy face when all I did is ask about Christmas logistics.
13. Teaching me how to pickle okra.
14. Being such a loving grandmother to LFG and all your other grands.

I love you.


Main Line Sportsman said...

A stellar tribute for all to share...thanks.
Wow..she actually whacked you in the face w/ a shoe? Damn...those Southern Mom's don't mess around!

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written tribute!

Belle de Ville said...

What a beautiful post.
Your mother and Aunt Kat are amazing women. How lucky you and LFG are to have them.

Silk Regimental said...

Just wonderful!

Town and Country Mom said...

Wonderful post. Those gnarled hands remind me of my grandmother's, worn out from years of making love real to family and friends.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. G,

Happy Mothers Day to you. Good work beating out Tootie Mae Johnson for Mr. G cause this boy of yours, Max, he's a gem of a fellow. We now know where he got his gift with the written word. I'm tryin to find him a hat for his trip to see you next month. His hat standards are impossible, got the tallest flattest most unusually indented crown I ever saw, it's bevels inward and downward top-to-brim like no hat I ever saw, uneven brim. If this hat were straw, I think we'd almost be there:

Anonymous said...

You are a wonderful son and nephew. You did your family proud with this, and it made me cry. What a beautiful, loving tribute that is obviously well deserved.


CeceliaMc said...

My grandmother had this ditty on an old '78.

If you learn the lyrics they can be used to get your child to do all sorts of things, from emptying the dishwasher to taking Christmas decorations back up to the attic.

Anything to get you to shut up.

ADG said...

Cecelia...WTF? You telling me to shut up?

CeceliaMc said...

Well, goodness no.

I was just giving the mothers... here yet more one more way to wrench every piece of advantage they can from this gig.

Frankly, when it comes to motherhood, it's you or them.

Preppy 101 said...

Maybe LFG can give that exact speech at her graduation :-). I see now from whom you acquired your talent and gift with words. Wonderful tribute to your Mom and bonus-Moms. xoxo

Kathie Truitt said...

I want to be your Aunt Kat when I grow up. And for the record...I think your Mom did an amazing job. Hope to see you soon.

Reggie Darling said...

A wonderful, heartfelt post ADG. A pleasure to read and savor. Your mother (and Aunt Kat) sounds like very special person, indeed. I am sure they are very proud of you, and have ample reason to be. Reggie

JMW said...

Wonderful tribute to your mom - love hearing about your visit with your aunt. Yep, they will always be caretakers. The shoe-to-the-head tale is classic - although I envision a similar moment in my future. :)

Patsy said...

Your mother looks Fabulous! Yes, she gets her “F” capitalized.

ADG said...

Thanks everyone.

Summer is a Verb said...

Boy does LFG look like your Mama when she was young. Hopefully, she didn't inherit that Topsider gene too :)

ps..."gossiping her a** off" tee hee

LPC said...

Aw. So glad you're writing. Clearly some women should be glad you exist to chronicle their strengths.