Good Morning, and Happy Mother’s Day!
Today, I am honoured to feature the first Guest Post ever on the 1970 Kiki Project blog. My Mom is a wise and gentle lady, and one of my very best friends. Thanks, Mom, for sharing your reflections, today!
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The Women Who Nurtured Me
When packing for our move two years ago, I was delayed an entire day in my proposed schedule when I came upon a box of photos. I was mesmerized for hours as I looked over images from my childhood that had been preserved in albums and out-of-fashion frames.
A lingering recollection of those hours is the many pictures of my mother. Was she really ever so young and so pretty? And there are pictures, too, of my maternal grandmother; her wedding photo shows her sitting in Victorian-inspired finery with my grandfather standing handsome and sturdy behind her. These were the women who mothered me well.
How my mother could laugh! She never did learn to tell a joke with perfect timing, with the punch line delivered last. But her gift of mimicry, her bang-on parody of a Scottish burr, her observational one-liners were fine examples of a great sense of humour. Mom was an excellent cook; I have spent years trying to replicate her perfect flakey Tea Biscuits and tangy Lemon Curd recipes, not entirely successfully.
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Nobody in the world loved me unconditionally like my grandmother. No one else would read the same story books over and over and over again, and sing nursery rhymes and Highland ditties to me by the hour, albeit off-key. She was staunch Presbyterian, a woman of great faith; I remember still her oft-repeated creed: “Build a little fence of trust around today.”
Particularly on this Mother’s Day weekend, I am grateful for all the women who nurtured me.
There were the Aunts, some biological and some that I addressed as Aunt because they were devoted, lifelong friends of my mother. These ladies took me to my first movie, my first concert, introduced me to my first cup of coffee at the Woolworth’s counter, my first street car ride through downtown Hamilton. They shared orders of French Fries dowsed in ketchup, salt, and vinegar, invited me to bowl with their Work League, had sleepovers and next-morning delectable breakfasts of homemade cocoa and buttery toast fingers. They gave me furry ear muffs and my first Brownie camera. They demonstrated the finer points of tying a kerchief with flair. They invited me and my fiancé over for supper and served their specialties on the good china. All of them witnessed our wedding 47 years ago.
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There were my Teachers. Some taught me to appreciate reading and Social Studies in elementary school; some nurtured my desire to write in high school and forgave my math phobia. There were esteemed Sunday School teachers who not only kindly, patiently introduced me to Bible stories, but gave me beautifully decorated chocolate Easter eggs inscribed with my name, gifted me with my first journal and my first bottle of toilet water aka cologne, instructed me in embroidery and quilting skills (oops, absolutely no talent cultivated there) and took us on picnics in farmers’ fields or local parks.
When I was in Grade 1, in a rural school with all 8 grades in one room, there were the Big Girls who adopted us babies-new-to-the-system and cared for us during recesses and lunch hour, played with us, and showed us the ropes necessary to deal with that indoor plumbing horror tolerated only in a small country school 60+ years ago. They tended our skinned knees and wiped our tears and generally mothered us responsibly until they left after Grade 8 to go to work or to attend a local high school. Recently I read the obituary of one of my primary year caregivers; she died in her mid-70s, but will forever be frozen in my mind as an elementary school mentor with curly hair, soft eyes, and a ready smile.
How I adored the mothers and mother-substitutes that I met fictionally. I wept buckets during some chapters when reading my favourite books. I loved The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew and the solid stability of Mamsie; motherless Heidi and the grumpy grandfather who loved her so much; The Secret Garden’s neglected Mary Lennox and Mrs. Sowerby who encouraged Mary in a maternal, uncomplicated way; orphaned Anne of Green Gables and Marilla Cuthbert who learned to love her so completely and heartily.
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Even as a child, I wanted a little girl. What a delightful gift I received over forty years ago. One of our signature bonding times is shopping; we genuinely and completely relish these outings. Can you believe that at one point in her teen years Cathy and I hit the local mall each and every Saturday for months on end? Her father still rolls his eyeballs over that recollection. Somehow handiness in the kitchen has not rubbed off on my daughter. She is still prone to ask two minutes into a phone conversation or early in an email chat: how long do I cook eggs for hard-boiled? How long do I bake a potato for maximum doneness? Can I substitute natural-infused-canola-oil-organic-soft-margarine-alternative for unsalted butter?
These days I am besotted in my role as grandma to two sweet, incredibly smart, gorgeous, grand-girls who are without parallel. Over dinner recently, the four-year-old traced the blue lines that are prominently raised on the back of my hands. “What are those, Grandma?” she asked quizzically. “These veins show that I am old enough to be a grandmother,” I explained. She patted my hand gently. “When I get those,” she whispered, “I will be your Grandma.”
I am very fortunate to have mothered one of each flavour, each child with individual personalities, strengths, viewpoints and interests. I acknowledge that becoming a parent means a lifetime commitment. I can’t stop being a mother any more than a tree can stop being a tree.
Was I up to the challenge? I pray that it is so.
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Thanks so very much, Mom. I love you!