I have had my mom on my mind quite a bit the last few days and even more so tonight. I would give anything to be able to sit down with her tonight and talk to her, pick her brain a bit, and ask questions. So many questions! About how she did things...how she always managed to pull it all together so well.
I realize I just didn't get enough time with her. I only really had about 1 1/2 years to know her as an adult. I married young at 19 ~ (she always told me that she would love to see my graduation diploma one day and my marriage license the next ~ they were a year apart so I *almost* made that wish come true!) ~ And after we married we immediately moved away to where my husband had his job and home ~ he was older than me and had already started working and settling down. After 2 1/2 years, we picked up and moved again, this time even further away. We moved back "home" - to my hometown - when I was 23. But at that time, I had two toddlers and life was busy and I was still too young to realize all the things I needed to know from my mom. By the time I was 25 her dementia had started and asking any questions or even holding a conversation was all but impossible. By the time I was 26, she was gone.
So, all told, I had about a one and a half year window to get to know my mom woman to woman. And I didn't really do a good job of it. I was so young...I just didn't realize.
But I do have some very good memories of her. Indulge me a little bit while I share:
* She always ~ and I mean always ~ had our house "company ready." But she did it without being overbearing about it, without (seemingly) to stress over it, or make me or my dad feel like we were in a museum. It felt like home.
* My dad was a preacher and he always felt like he needed to move on after about 2 years with a congregation. He felt like in 2 years, one person could say all they could say to one group of people. So we lived in many different parsonages during the years. Some big, some small, some in nice neighborhoods, others in more humble places. But no matter where we lived, my mom made a nice, pretty home out of it. I don't have any memories of living with or around boxes for weeks at at time. Some how, she got it all unpacked and laid out and we seemed top pick right up where we left off.
* My mom made a nice, sit down dinner every single night. 365 days a year. Her daily meals were like what you would expect to find at a traditional "Sunday meal." And Sundays? Well, they were pull out all the stops, good dishes, lace tablecloth affairs. If I could count the times I have woke up around 5:00 in the morning on a Sunday with the smell of a pot roast with potatoes and carrots slow cooking in the oven wafting through the house...I would have no small sum. She did these meals every single day. A wonderful meal with a beautifully set table. Now I know exactly how much work this was and how much energy it took. Growing up, it was just my life. My normal. I didn't think anything of it. I didn't realize that not everyone had a mom who did things like that.
* Speaking of beautifully set tables...oh my goodness. My mom could set a table in such creative ways. Always with a nod to the season we were in or the current holiday at hand. She made them so pretty. I have several pictures of her tables at different times over the years. These pictures are such treasures to me.
* My mom always decorated the bulletin boards at church. She decorated these the same way she did our kitchen table at home. Where other people might throw up a pre-cut visual aid packet, my mom would put so much thought and time into it and would end up with something unique and beautiful when she was done. I think this is one reason I throw myself into classroom/bulletin board decorating the way that I do. I remember sitting with my mom in the various churches we were at, cutting out letters (there were no die cut machines back then) from the time I could hold a pair of scissors and cut a straight line. I always feel close to her when I'm working on decor and visual aids for the Sunday school classes.
* No matter how little money we had, she always made Christmas & birthdays magical for me. We didn't have a lot in the way of funds and my mom worked literally out of her grocery money budget and that's it. She always said it matters not how much money one has but how you use and plan for what you do have. She would save money back, use the lay-a-way plans most stores had back then, and by Christmas or birthday time she made sure that she had wonderful presents for me. Now, at this point in my life it's not the presents that I appreciate or even remember for that matter, but the fact that she planned the way she did and sacrificed the way she did so she could make it special for me.
She was such a good person and such a wonderful homemaker. She loved me and my dad with everything she had. It didn't matter that our family was small, she pulled out all the stops anyway. She made our homelife so sweet and relaxing and beautiful. So many people would think ~ oh why bother with all the "extras" day in and day out? They're happy to just get through the day. But my mom never once gave up on all those "extras." She seemlessly incorporated them into our everyday life. And now that I am a grown woman, I realize just how much she did for us. I am thankful.