Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Mother's Day tale not to be shared on Mother's Day

Ok. I can write this down today. My cherished Mother’s Day card from Zach has fallen on the floor, landing amongst the dust bunnies behind the couch. My morning intake of caffeine is now sipped out of the odd-shaped ceramic coffee mug he lovingly made for me in electives class. And, I absolutely love the chamber pot (odd name I know, but it’s not for bathroom usage) he also created with his two ‘tiny always to Mommie’ hands. My eye drops fit perfectly in there upside down, helping me squeeze every $10 squirt out of there that I can. Those buggers are expensive.

I did not participate in the ever so social online posting of a picture of my mother a week and a half ago. I have two mothers. And neither one were ever much of a mom. One birthed me. The other raised me. Ain’t neither one getting elected for Mom of the Year.

The one who birthed me met me in my early 20s. She’s even seen a picture of my teen, her blood grandson, yet she cares not. She once told me, “How do we know whose baby they put my signature with? You’re dead to me. Leave me alone.”

The one who raised me, the one who I called Mother did love me in her own way. I think. I have a favorite picture of her. And it’s a beautiful one. I've always wished I had a picture of myself like that. I want to post it and maybe I will add it as an update. But, right now my computer has just recovered from a hard drive crash and I can’t yet connect to my scanner. And it was time to write this story. (Yes, an excuse, but the truth … love those kind.)

Anyway, Marietta, my adopted mom, was gorgeous. She was a ‘40s knock out. Her black and white portrait hints of a dark-haired Lauren Bacall. She was even a Rosie the Riveter, worked at Bell Helicopter in Fort Worth, Texas during World War II. She was one of the few skinny ones who could fit in those small spaces and for that, she got lots of attention. And dates, I’m sure.

She was a true Bohemian of that era. Wish I knew all of her stories, but she wasn’t that kind of mom. We never really talked much.

Instead, she took to the bottle when she should have been putting her natural artistry into the drawings and paintings she could have produced, or playing the piano or organ with the touch of an angel.

She’d met my Dad while he was still in the military. He was a dashing young Navy cook, wild as they came. They fell in lust, married, and were off to California to live a life of drinks, art, music, smoky nightclubs and who know’s what else. But that didn’t happen.

Instead, one day while Daddy was visiting my mom’s Methodist church with her parents, he up and joined and committed that very day to spending the rest of his life speaking from a pulpit and visiting those in need of the kind of Christian minister that was for real He’d been there, done it all and was truly given the Calling. He didn't judge. He talked of Grace.

Nope. Marietta didn’t like that too much. She tried. For a while, she played the organ like the good little preacher’s wife, tried to keep the smile on at all the churchly functions. But it just wasn’t meant for her. She had the style of Jackie Kennedy and the looks of a movie star, but lived in a glass house under the watchful eyes of many a judgemental sinner.

She tried to share some of her creativity with me. I still sometimes redraw a painting of hers that hung in the living room of whatever parsonage we were in at the time. And she did sit me down at the ripe young age of five and go over and over and over ‘Ke Sera Sera’ with me until I finally got it right so I could star in the Weatherford Kindergarten School Musical Finale. I had a voice, she said, but I’d been hanging around my father too much and I was acting tone deaf just because he was.

And there was the key to our very awkward mother/daugther relationship. She was jealous of me. All because I loved my Daddy. Just the way he was.

Thank God for Zach. Through him, with him, I have learned how to be a good Mom. Happy Belated!