Everybody liked my mother. Seriously. Not only they all told me in person after she died, people never missed a chance to tell me what a nice person she was while she was living.
Dorothy grew up in the Depression and that made her a little strange about money. She never wasted any even after she could have. For example, every cotton ball that came out of a bottle went into service to remove nail polish. Why buy a bag when she got perfectly good cotton for free?
As a mother, I give her an A+. That ability to make $1 do the work of $3 meant that we never went without anything important. I knew we weren’t rich when I was growing up but I had no idea we could have been considered poor. She made our clothes, clipped coupons and did whatever else it took to meet our material needs.
More importantly, she was a real mother. There is never a time I can remember her being too busy to listen to me talk her ears off, drill me for a test or sit patiently while I read her my terrible short stories. As a I grew up, she adjusted to the adult me, still treating me as a daughter, but no longer as a child. I have children of my own and believe me, I know how tough it is to do that.
We shared every kind of confidence and she let me know her as a woman and a friend. This picture was one of her favorites of herself, but my personal favorites were the casual snapshots of her over the years. There was a whole album of her with dozens of different boys she met at the USO during the war. There were tons of photos of her with my father, the undisputed love of her life, laughing, hugging, sharing 60 years together. My sisters and I were so lucky and, I’m happy to say, we knew it and told our parents how much we appreciated them and the life they had given us.
Dorothy loved any kind of holiday or celebration. Nothing made her happier than a house full of family and friends. She stayed in touch with everyone. When family or friends moved away, other people might lose touch. Not my mother. She was still corresponding with the wives of the men who served with my father in WWII when she died last fall.
She loved to give presents and not just for the big events that everyone remembers. She bought us candy for Valentine’s Day and, after I started my own family, gave me a something for my anniversary and Mother’s Day. In the last decade or so, she gave me money so I could buy something I liked.
I put my birthday money last year in a drawer the way I always did, waiting to find something special. I still had it almost a year later when I fell in love with a giant metal pinwheel that just cried out to be put in my garden. So I took my birthday money and got my last Mother’s Day gift from my mom.
I can see it from every window on the back of my house, spinning around and catching the light. She would have loved it. I think of her while I look at it – not that I need any reminders to think about her.
I hope you don’t mind my personal spin on Mother’s Day. Think of it as an introduction. I am sure she and my dad will pop up in the conversation a lot.