I Am My Mama

I don’t smoke.

I didn’t grow up with 14 siblings.

I didn’t work at a turkey plant cleaning up turkey guts.

I haven’t lost a child to suicide.

Even so, early this morning @ 6 am, I find myself leaning under my Elder bush transplanting a flower and the thought hit me:

I am my mother!

She had a beautiful yard. She would go out early in the coolness of the morning, sometimes before the sun was fully up, and weed. She despised weeds and my dad despised ants. Between the two, they kept their 1/13 of an acre virtually weed free and ant free!

Growing up and then starting my family, I had lots of thoughts of NOT raising my kids the way my parents did.

  • Poor communication
  • NO communication
  • Silent treatment
  • Poor
  • Old, old house
  • No vacation memories
  • Constant struggling with survival
  • No real goals except to get through the day
  • Family fell apart & she didn’t see most of her kids the last 10 years of her life
  • Always pushing up her glasses & trying to see
  • Always trying to cover her gray hair

I started out with great intentions. I made it my daily goal to master the secret of self-improvement. I was going to figure out all the answers then I could relax and enjoy a life of ease and have a happy family.

But here I am, three days away from turning 54. Fifty Four! My mama has been gone 13 years.

The similarities are easy to spot.

  • I’m weeding in the early morning
  • I struggle with relationships
  • Some silent treatment is definitely involved
  • I live paycheck to paycheck
  • My son has been swirled into the world of drugs to the point of me fearing his death daily
  • I still have zero clue of what life is and what I’ve mastered
  • My glasses- ugh the daily struggle
  • And my gray hair……always a task

You could say I’m my Mama.

At least I don’t have dentures at a young age like she had. She would take them out and scare the babies with. But I do push, adjust and take off my glasses 100 times a day. My hair seems to turn gray within days of coloring it.

My family is in shreds. After diligently putting effort into vacations, religion, nice housing, sports activities, my family has caved to the ravages of being addictions’ extended victims.

Those are the negative similarities. My mama lived a simple life. She wasn’t impressed by money or power. She didn’t really care for the luxuries of life or having material things, despite growing up poor.

Now, I want a simple life. After decades of always wanting more than my parents had, now I just want simple. Sure, I am impressed by a nice house with a pool and misting sprays coming off the porch. I also desire peace. My mom loved peace. She had an innocent way about her that screamed authenticity. She didn’t ever want to upset anyone, but her blunt manner and uncouthness did, at times.

I want my Mama’s innocence.

I want her ability to be forgiven because “she just didn’t know better”, instead of intentional. I want to be remembered like her, for the good things: her homemade chicken stew, her beautiful yard, her sense of humor.

I don’t want the usual idolizing after death but I want to be missed.

I want to be remembered when someone sees a yellow rose. Or smells Wrigley Spearmint gum. I want someone to hear John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” and feel a tear well up in their eye.

Mostly I just want to be loved.

Loved like my Mama and I want to Love like my Mama.

You Forgot to Tell Me, Mama

Photo courtesy of author

Mama you forgot to tell me how hard it was.

You forgot to mention how those sweet little sticky faces grow up to get in sticky situations.

You forgot to tell me the battles they will face.

You didn’t mention how far my heart would drop when I heard my child was struggling.

You failed to tell me
about the lump in my throat when I heard my child was getting divorced.

You didn’t even mention my eyes; that they would cry a thousand tears when I didn’t know where my son was.

You didn’t tell me Mama.

You didn’t tell me what to do when I’m in my warm bed at night, my belly full, wondering how much weight my boy has lost this week or when he last ate a meal.

You must have missed the part when the phone call from the jail came. You didn’t tell me what to say to this:

"Incoming call from a facility to house your child that obviously can't control himself- do you accept the charges?"

No I don’t accept!!

I don’t accept that my little blonde haired boy who loved dump trucks, and dirt bikes and playing tricks on his sister; who loved to go fishing and camping and finding little baby frogs in the pond; is now locked up in a freezing cold cement cell.

I don’t accept that he says they only turn on the heat every few hours when a visitor or vendor comes by.

I don’t accept it because I don’t even know what’s real anymore.

I don’t even know if that God you talked about so much exists Mama. Because it seems like HE has forsaken me.

When I’m driving to work, I cry out to Him, the tears so thick, I can’t even see anymore. I beg and beg for this pain to stop. For my little family to be healed again. You didn’t tell me what to do then.

You didn’t tell me what to say when people ask “How are you?” “Fine” seems so ridiculously false.

Mama, I don’t know what to do anymore.

I’m trying so hard to remember those simpler times.

The carefree days you told me about. The cotton candy at the fair and taffy down at the 5 and dime store.

You playing “kick the can” and swimming in the creek.

Photo by Shorpy.com

I’ll bet you never thought that sixty years later your youngest daughter would be asking you for answers to an unknown problem.

You loved my boy. The night he came home from the hospital you stayed up with him so I could rest & so he “wouldn’t choke”. If he did, you would always ” raise his left arm”. An old wives tale I suppose.

But it worked.
Maybe I could try something like that now.


Anything you tell me to do Mama, I’ll try.

I know you did the best you could, I only wish you were here to help me again.

Maybe you could do something from heaven.
Can you start a prayer circle there? Do you guys pray?

Oh Mama.

I wish you would have told me that my heart never seems to heal. I wish I would have known the pain you felt when you lost your boy.

I wish I could have comforted you more.

Sometimes I get a whiff of your hair spray. Or Wrigley’s spearmint gum. Or the lilac bush we had in the yard.

It sends me back.
To when I thought my worst day was not getting a part in the school play.

Oh how life changes Mama.

Come to think of it, you did teach me how to deal with life. You made soup out of nothing, and mended clothes over and over. You put bread wraps inside my boots to keep the snow out. You marched to the school to stand up for me when I couldn’t.

You cleaned my house when I had my babies. You watched them so I could work night after night even as you were getting old.

You fixed cuts with that stingy red medicine.
You told me to stop yelling at my kids so much.

I realize now that you had the answers all along Mama!

It’s LOVE!

You did LOVE.💛 
You did it right.💛
You were LOVE.💛
And you taught me how to Love.

Thank you Mama.
Rest in paradise…..I’ll carry on from here.