yep, that’s my mama

August 25, 2005

The other day a story came to the forefront of my memory—a story quite worth the telling. But before I tell it, I should explain the reason for the remembrance, as it is a part of the tale as well . . .
Earlier this week, upon my return home from work in the afternoon, I was walking along my street, delivering community event flyers to my neighbors. As I taped the flyer to his mailbox, one of my neighbors came out to greet me. Seeing that I was an “involved” neighbor, he wanted my opinion about a proposal he had for our care of the communal park: we have an open grassy field in the center of our “crescent” shaped street, as all the houses line one end. It is a nice area, with trees lining a small creek, but has never been cared for terribly well. The city is nice enough to mow it periodically, even though technically we are all responsible for it, as each house owns a portion.
My neighbor was lamenting the fact that it needs better care: several of the trees have deadwood that needs trimming, and the area is low-lying and prone to flooding, so the creek should be cleared out somewhat. He wanted my help in getting everyone to chip in to an annual maintenance fund for it, which sounded reasonable enough to me—as long as we can convince some of the owners that they are in fact legally responsible for the land. At any rate, the point of all this is that, as we parted, he mentioned to me that my mother was active in caring for the park—a fact that I had actually forgotten, and that I was surprised to hear from someone who had not even been living here back when she did. But he pointed out the 2 thriving Cypress trees, noting that she had done well to plant such thirst-prone little seedlings. I grinned at the thought of Mom doing her planting, and then, more to myself than to him, I musingly replied, “Yep, that’s my mama!”
And that was when I remembered that strange evening back in elementary school . . . I know we were all quite young at the time, so it could not have been too long after we got settled in the U.S. again, in our own home. But it must have also been just long enough for Mom to get just done enough with her grieving in order to recover a bit of her tendency towards unanticipated nuttiness. Then again, who knows: perhaps the nuttiness was as much a part of the grieving process as anything else . . .
But here’s the way I remember the evening: I was “in charge,” along with my sister, while Mom went out for our groceries. The boys were being characteristically rowdy, especially since their more-rowdy neighborhood playmate was there with us. Helen and I bossily tried to mother them, sulking a bit, and eventually giving up, when they showed their clear disdain of our seniority.
After a bit, we heard the Buick drive up and the large door shut as Mom rolled in to the kitchen downstairs. “Kids, come help carry stuff in for me!” . . . and then my mother—my Missionary, Sunday-school teacher, wash-our-mouths-out-with-soap-for-swearing Mother—added, “I got us a six-pack—come on down!”
It seems that Mom had happened upon some “Non-alcoholic” beer in the store, and she was so amused at the idea of it—having never encountered it before—that she couldn’t resist a bit of practical joking.
Helen and I peered at the cans she held up proudly, and then rolled our eyes with an exaggeratedly mature, “oh, Mom!.” And the boys gazed wide-eyed. Each poured himself a plastic cup-full—with a flourish, and the three proudly bounded back up the stairs to the playroom. My brothers made tiny dents in their cups, throwing their heads back as they swallowed and attempting to hide their grimaces. The neighbor, though, took the cake. After a couple of sips, he began to take larger, slower steps around the room. And then he loudly announced: “Man! I think it’s getting to me a bit, guys . . . I’m getting a bit light-headed!”
At that point, I believe Helen and I returned to our room for some nice grown-up girl games, deciding for the umpteenth time that boys were such a pain . . .

Yep, that’s my Mama!

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