Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

What I wish I'd done for Mother's Day

Mother's Day, Mom

When I was about 9 years old, I spent most of a year's savings on a figurine to give to Mom for Mother's Day. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen: a young girl in a long white dress, lots of frothy lacey procelain pettiskirts, some sort of haloish flowery thing around her head. It was, I now realize, a Catholic first communion piece.

Mom, a Norwegian Lutheran, accepted it with extravagant praise and put it high on a shelf where it would be safe from accidental assault. And even the view of visitors.

If this sounds even remotely familiar, you'll want to listen to this incredible poem by Billy Collins, The Lanyard.

After years and years of giving Mom presents I wanted or bought in dutiful haste, and brunches that she did enjoy but that had as much to do with us as her, I've finally figured out what to do for Mother's Day. But it's the second Mother's Day too late: Mom died a year and a month ago.

She wouldn't be surprised: I always have been a slow learner when it comes to the important things.

I'd have gone to visit her, staying overnight, not just for the afternoon. I'd have taken her to an antiques store because she loved that more than anything but her grandchildren.

Later, I'd have given her a small glass of Bailey's and asked her, in a gentler way than usual, about all the things I wish I'd asked her.

Who was her first boyfriend? What was it like to be the new girl, the big city girl, in a small town high school? To have a step mom not too much older than she was? What did she do for fun? Dream about? What was it like going to nursing school in Minneapolis during the war? What was it like to be married to a much older man? How did she learn to make such good choices about her life after Dad was gone? How did she manage to keep finding new friends and to keep growing even in the fourth chapter of her life?

This Mother's Day, my own kids are away at school studying for exams. One is sick, and too far away for me to deliver Vernor's ginger ale and rainbow sherbet (Grandma's cure-all). So I think I'll spend the day doing one of Mom's "you really shoulds" in her honor.

This closet clean-out, Mom, is for you.

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