I have massive storage capacity in my iPhone and never erase text messages. So I’ve got three years’ worth of messages from my mom, who made her first foray into texting in 2011. Here’s a text she sent to me about Paul Ryan during the Republican National Convention:
This will be the first mom-less Mother’s Day for my sister and brother and me, and it’s impossible to convey just how much that sucks. But we’re planning to have fun tomorrow anyway. Mom would kick our asses if she saw us moping around. She never could stand that.
So the three of us with our combined complement of children will go visit our grandmother, Mom’s mother. We’re bringing a picnic with Grandma’s favorite finger sandwiches plus noodle salad, banana pudding and iced tea.
Here are some of the things I’ll think about when I remember my mom:
My mom started a feud with our fundamentalist preacher neighbor once over public nudity. My sister and I — who were around three and four at the time — were running around under the sprinkler in our underwear. Preacher man told us to cover up and came over to tell Mom that it was unseemly to allow girls, even very young ones, to run around half naked. Mom told him that any man who found such a sight even remotely sexual was a pervert and that preacher man should focus on reproving that sin rather than hassling innocent children.
Once when my sister and I were around 14 and 15, Mom dropped us off at the bus stop on her way to work. She started to drive away and then stopped, backed up and told us to get in the car. She called in sick at work, called the school and told them we were sick, and we all three went to the beach for the day. She said she’d seen us looking so forlorn in the rearview mirror that she just couldn’t stand to leave us at the bus stop.
Mom used to write hilarious, ranty letters to companies about defective products. She was broke for most of her life (she was a single mom and nurse and not especially good at handling family finances) and always on the hunt for a bargain. So it wasn’t unusual for her to buy something that promptly fell apart, but man did she ever let the manufacturer know about it.
Mom also encouraged us to write letters seeking satisfaction when wronged by corporations. When I was in kindergarten or first grade, I failed to find the promised prize in a package of Planters Cheez Balls, and she helped me write a letter that began, “Dear Mr. Peanut.” I received a case of Cheez Balls in reply — for free!
My great-grandmother was a formidable lady who had everyone in the family cowed. She was ultra-religious (to the point of mental illness) and thought playing cards was a sin. One time while visiting our house, she caught my sister and me playing “Go Fish” and thundered, “God didn’t make those cards! Throw them in the trash can!” Mom said, “God didn’t make the trash can either!” It was the first time I’d ever seen anyone stand up to that terrifying woman.
Mom was a hippie who fell for every fad that came along during the 70s. One day we came home from school to find that she’d sawed the legs off the dining room table so that it was only a couple of feet off the floor and replaced the chairs with big decorative pillows for us to sit on. She painted the table Day-Glo yellow. It was fun until we realized this made it easy for our poorly trained pets to leap onto the table in the middle of our dinner.
This Sunday when we’re visiting Grams, we’ll play wiffle ball and throw Frisbees with the kids. We’ll feel sorry for ourselves for being without our mom, but we’ll remind each other that we were lucky to have had such a good mother, even if we did lose her too soon. No real point to this post except this: Moms — hug ‘em if ya got ‘em.