Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother Memories

Each year for Mother's Day, I am going to try and conjure up memories from my childhood with mom. It's hard when you sit down to try and recall your oldest thoughts and visuals, isn't it? Well, today, I dusted off the old filing cabinets in my brain, blew off the cobwebs on my childhood folders and pulled these memories out of retirement. I really enjoyed thinking about my childhood, way back when. The more I wrote, the more I remembered. I think the boys will get a kick out of these stories one day.

I took the photo above the last time I was in DC. I wanted a picture of one of my oldest childhood memories. I remember being very young and Mom driving my brother Johnny* to piano lessons not too far from our home in Arlington and then driving into DC across the Memorial Bridge. I have loved these huge bronze statues ever since. They (Arts of War) flank each side of the bridge as you cross the Potomac River and just before you enter Washington. I thought about that memory each and every time I passed by these statues--each and every time, from that day on--hundreds and hundreds of times. (Perhaps there was more to the day than I truly remember, I don't know.) You can imagine how big these seemed to a small child. The shiny bronze made them even more stunning to me. That was the only time I ever remember my mother driving a car. She must have given it up shortly thereafter. (I was later told why. My father, who could be the most giving person around, gave her car away to a friend in need. She in turn vowed never to drive again--and she never did, honest. Oh yes, momma can be stubborn! I'm told it's a Bailey trait. Hmmm, ya think that's where I get it from, hub?)

When it came to weening me off the bottle, my mom was very lenient, to say the least. I remember my oldest brother Joe (14 years my senior) still living at home and dating (Mary Jane?). One night my mom refused to give me a bottle, so I just just pranced my little self right downstairs, poured milk into a bottle, hid it in a paper sack (so no one would see, of course) and then take it back up to bed. Mom told me some nights I would drink up to three bottles--throwing the empties against the wall before producing the next one in line. One day, she just took all my bottles and threw them away. Boom, done. There was no weening period at all. Cold turkey. She said "No more bottles" and that was that. I have never drank another drop of plain milk since. (See stubborn in above paragraph.) hehe. Now, on the other hand, she told me that I was out of diapers at an extremely early age. I couldn't stand to be wet. Again, I would take it upon myself to do what was needed to make myself comfortable. I would march upstairs, change my own diaper and return. I swear, that's what she told me! I crack myself up. (Those pins must have been a bee-otch!) Had to be trainers she's thinking of. giggle.

I guess I've always been a Ramblin' Rose. I used to wander off from time to time when I was very young. One day, pre-school aged, I told my mom that I was going down to the basement to help my dad. He had his photography studio down there at the time. Well, I guess it was just a front because I went down, saw that he was in the darkroom and walked right out the basement door and proceeded to prance myself all the way up to the park (see Ft. Scott below) through the woods, no doubt! Mom said two men came knocking at our door about an hour later with me by their side. Said they "found" me up there. hehe. They told her she should keep a closer eye on me! I bet I got a pop on the rear that day!

I'll never forget the first day of kindergarten at Oakridge Elementary School. (Is that not the best name for an elementary school? And, of course, it matched its name. It was soooo sweet.) We walked hand-in-hand all the way to school. It was just over a mile and the walk took us through the loveliest of neighborhoods. We lived down the hill from the "expensive" neighborhoods in a duplex house, yet I never once felt embarrassed or self conscious about it. I owe that to my mother's unpretentious nature. I can still remember all the smells of the pastes (which I even tasted because it smelled so good!), pencil shavings and erasers that sat in my cigar box. Kindergarten was only half a day, so I really enjoyed it. Jump to first grade--full day--and there my friends lay a whole other story. First of all, I had to take the bus! That didn't' settle in too well at all. I cried the first week (or perhaps longer) even after she walked me instead of making me take that stinky bus. She later told me it just broke her heart. I can relate as the kid did the same thing to me. (The teenager would say goodbye as soon as we walked through the door--like, "don't let the door slam ya on the butt on your way out, ma!")

One year, we had a field trip to Ft. Scott Park. (This is the same park I "ran away" to.) It was just up the hill from our house--a short walk if you took the path through the "woods." I had forgot to bring my lunch for the trip and I remember being terribly embarrassed. I suppose someone called my mom because by the time we walked to the park, she was there waiting for me with a freshly made scrambled egg on toast sandwich. It was the best sandwich I had ever tasted. To this day, I can almost taste it, really. I remember my dad having a Buick station wagon that had a heater that smelled just like that when you started it up in the winter. It was very comforting then, sounds kinda gross now!

After kindergarten, mom got a job at my elementary school working in the kitchen of the cafeteria. (Back then, everything was cooked fresh from scratch--can you imagine?) I guess she figured she better be close to me in case I had an "emotional" breakdown. hehe. She continued through the years to follow me when I graduated to the next school--jr. high school and then to my high school. It was wonderful having her there in elementary--not so good in jr. high school. You know, "that's NOT MY mother!" attitude, although everyone loved her, of course. She would give everyone extras except me while serving. Pout. Poor me.

Mom used to make iced tea each summer. But I couldn't stand it as it was sweeter than the law allowed. (Oh yes, she is the perfect Georgia Peach.) All my friends would come over just to have here iced tea, I'd stick to water. She would then let us cook hot dogs on skewers over the gas stove burners. I can't even imagine allowing my kids to do that! When she cooked them for dinner, she would lightly score each hot dog spirally to keep them from curling up, I guess (?). She would also cut a slit from the center out of a thick slice of bologna, again to keep it from curling up while frying. (Talk about Southern!) Yum, I haven't had a fried bologna sandwich in years! Of course, it was served on the softest of breads, Wonder Bread!

What wonderful memories. Happy Mother's Day mom!

*Johnny-Lee-Hoo, how old were you when you took piano lessons????

(As I wrote the beginning of this, mom has come upstairs half-a-dozen times to ask me what to wear tomorrow to our Mother's Day brunch. God Bless her. Give her something out of her routine, and it sure throws her for a loop. I try not to tell her anything until the day of; but I had to wash her hair and give her a shower for tomorrow and explain that we had big plans for the day. I picked out her clothes and put them out but she is confused as to when she should get dressed. I pulled out a pretty pair of shoes to wear and she keeps bringing them upstairs to make sure they are the right ones. We just giggle with each other every time she comes up. Better to laugh than to cry, she always said.)


paola said...

Emouvants souvenirs !

John Ivey said...

What great memories you have. I was a kindergarten dropout, so there were no walks to Oakridge. But I can imagine how wonderful that walked must've been. The walk up Ridge Road is spectacular. All those quaint homes tucked away along the side. I bet it is still a beautiful walk.



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