“Why do you always have to wait until the last minute to get things done?”
Although she died over 11 years ago, I can still hear my mother’s voice scolding me again for that flaw in my character.
It’s a flaw I’ve never been able to shake even as I sit here trying to write down some personal feelings about her as a Mothers Day tribute.
I’ve been putting it off for a week.
I think part of my problem getting started in her case is the knowledge that she wouldn’t have wanted the attention anyway.
“Oh, Piffels,” she would say…and scoff at the suggestion that she was anything special.
I suppose there’s some truth in that. She may not have been all that different from other Norwegian Lutheran women, born in the early 20th century, who married Norwegian Lutheran men and raised a varying number of Norwegian Lutheran kids.
Most had the same quiet dignity, strong work ethic and an unshakeable faith.
But not all possessed much of a sense of humor.
Oh, she didn’t “tell” lots of jokes and laugh out loud too often but she was a great audience for the rest of us. Something we’d say or do would strike her funny bone and she’d first smile, then start to shake trying to avoid an outburst of laughter. My brothers and I loved to tease her and I’m pretty sure she loved it too and would often give as good as she got.
My very first memory is from age three and me watching mom baking lefse in our farm house kitchen.
Over the years we had some of our best talks at that lefse griddle as she spent hours and hours working her magic… turning potato patties and flour into delicious delicacies fit for the king of Norway but enjoyed, instead by family and customers of the Clover Farm grocery store in Volga, South Dakota for 59 cents a dozen.
(Mom on her 80th birthday surrounded by her three sons, Doug..Denny and Tom. )Raising three boys (four.. if you count my dad since he called her mom too) was no picnic and she could get mad…real mad. Sometimes when one of us would push her too far, she’d explode in a short eruption of profanity that was so unlike her we’d be stunned into silent submission.
Some of my favorite scenes in the movie “A Christmas Story” are when Ralphie’s mother didn’t always tell Ralphie’s father about a fight or some other trouble he’d gotten into.
My mom was the same way. She was a buffer between my dad and me on several occasions.
Sometimes she wouldn’t bring up my infraction at all, other times..like when I was 13 and had crashed our 1953 Mercury through my Aunt Leila’s garage door..she downplayed the incident to dad so instead of me getting his Red Wing boot up my butt and grounded for life, I was given a good talking-to sprinkled with lots of colorful creative expletives.
My mother loved music and somehow came up with the money to buy an old upright piano that we crammed into the bedroom of our small house.
I was shocked when she sat down and actually played the thing.
It was all on the black keys and the only tune she knew.. but it sure left a lasting impression.
I even took piano lessons for a while but gave it up in favor of rock and roll when my cousin and I each got guitars and eventually formed a band.
“That really sounds good,” mom would say encouragingly as we struggled for hours trying to learn enough songs to perform in public.
But she was always doing that..lifting me up..telling me what a handsome young man I was even as I stood before the mirror in tears looking at a face full of zits. Or telling me how smart I could be if I’d only apply myself..while reluctantly signing a report card filled with “D’s.
Or saying nothing about constantly having to change my bed sheets in the middle of the night after those “accidents” I had until the age of 12.
Those are some of the things they just don’t put in a Hallmark Mother’s Day card.
Mom lived a long time and I was eventually able to tell her how much I appreciated all she had done in my life. (to which I believe she said, “aw, pifflels”)
If you’re lucky enough to still have your mother around..why not tell her too?
She might just say how good looking and smart you are!