Friday, December 31, 2010

Equal Time

Well, I really must tell some stories of my little mama, equal time and all of that.

Talking about Mother is totally different than talking about Papa. I occasionally called her little Mama, especially if I was talking about her, but usually I called her Mother.Her grandchildren called her Mom-she didn't like to be called grandma. Mother was a lot more complex person than my father. Not as easy to get a handle on most days. She would look you in the eye and truthfully tell you her age, or her weight. But she would lie about her height. Mother was probably just a tad less than 5 foot tall. As she aged she shrunk down to about 4'10". But all of her adult life, she would tell people she was 5' 3". Now, everyone knew that wasn't true, but you did not contradict my little Mama. So, even though I was taller than her by the time I started kindergarten, Mother continued to claim that she was 5' 3". I asked her once, when I was a brash young teen, why she told people she was taller than she really was. She looked up at me as if I were an alien from outer space, calmly said "I am 5' 3" tall, I always have been." That was the last time I brought up the subject.

I was 6' tall by the time I was a teen, and 6' 1" before I stopped growing taller. People would look at us when we were together, of course, commenting on my size, and Mother would tell them "Shoot, she'd be 7' tall if she didn't have so much tucked under for feet." or "I grew her that tall on purpose. The man who built my kitchen cabinets was 7 foot tall, I wanted to find out what he might have left on the top shelf."

Mother was sometimes a difficult woman. She raised 6 children, and as we grew older there may never have been a time when she was speaking to all 6 of us at once. She had a bit of a mean streak sometimes, and she seemed happiest when she was surrounded by drama. Now this doesn't mean she wasn't the best parent she knew how to be. I think in those days most parents were doing the best they knew how. They were so wrong sometimes, but I honestly believe it was because of the times we grew up in, and not necessarily maliciousness on the part of our parents. My Mother may have been a strict disciplinarian at home, she may have exerted total control, but do not let a teacher or other adult pick on or treat one of her children unfairly. Little mama became a giant in those situations.

One of my favorite stories is told from her perspective and mine. My 1st grade teacher was not the best teacher in the world. I was a complication for her, and she would write notes home to my mother. Mother told everyone that she thinks I was born knowing how to read and write, because she certainly didn't remember teaching me and according to her I was reading at age 2. I think she probably wasn't exaggerating too much, because I do not remember when I didn't know how. Well, my kindergarten teacher thought I was a bit of a problem, probably because I would get bored and rather than napping preferred to spend time reading. In first grade, we started learning to print our letters. The issues arose because I already could write, in cursive, and except for the printing lessons, would write that way. So a letter from my teacher would go home with me, and Mother would respond with a lengthy letter back. I suppose it would have been too easy to call each other.

The teacher wanted Mother to tell me that I wasn't allowed to write in cursive. It seems it caused a problem for the teacher because the other students saw me do it. Mother apparently wrote back that the teacher should not be showing my work to the other students and that I was to be allowed to carry on. Well, that letter must have amused my teacher, because I was on the playground during recess when my teacher and another teacher called me over and asked me in not kid friendly terms who my Mother thought she was. In the middle is not a comfortable place for a 6 year old to be. Mother ended up in the Principal's office, and according to her the principal, Mr. Johnson, started explaining that first grade children could not be allowed to write in cursive because, as told by Mother, "We use slim pencils when we teach children to write in cursive, Mrs. Jones, and at 6 years old the muscles in their little hands aren't strong enough to hold a slim pencil." The next thing my mother said was a question, "You don't have any idea which child is mine, do you Mr. Johnson?" He admitted as much and mother told him to call me to the office and that the conversation would not continue until I got there.

Now I knew my mother had planned to speak to the principal that day, and so when the call came to my teacher and she sent me to the principal with a smirk on her face I was a bit anxious by the time I was ushered through the swinging gate into the inner offices. I was escorted into the Principal's office by the school secretary, and my little mama came and stood shoulder to shoulder with me.I was about 1-2 inches taller than her. Then she said "Tell me again, Mr. Johnson,  about the muscles in her little hands." Mother grabbed my 'little hand' and said we were leaving. She asked me where my class was, we marched down the hall, she went in the classroom, the teacher sputtering that she was disrupting the class. Mother told her not to worry, it wouldn't happen again. Mother cleaned out my desk, and we went home. I was transferred to a different school a couple of days and some phone calls to the school board later. My Mother may have had issues with her children, but she was always our staunchest supporter when it came to others having issues with us.I still miss my mother, especially when my son does something amazing. I will think, I should call my little mama. I learned a lot about advocating for my very special child from my mother advocating for me.

I also learned to say I love you to the people I love. It was something I never heard growing up.It was a different time. My parents didn't say it to each other or to us children. I think it would have made quite a difference if I had known how much they loved each other when I was young. I know how much of a difference it would have made if I had known if they loved me.I was blessed that both of my parents died at home in my arms. It may not have felt like a blessing at the time, but as I look back it was. I was able to say good bye to them, knowing that I had forgiven them, and hoping that they had forgiven me. But, no matter, I know that they were loved, and surrounded by love as they crossed over. I wish my husband had not died alone in a car on a freeway. But I know he knew he was loved, and I knew he loved me. We had the opportunity to say that to each other a couple of hours before he was killed by a young woman with almost twice the legal limit  blood alcohol count.My husband and I told each other that we loved each other dozens of times a day. William would turn around, and roll his eyes when would 'make out' in the kitchen. But he knew his parents loved each other, and he knew he was loved, because we told him every day. I still do, I always will.


Roy Durham said...

Looking back as far as I can remember my parents and grandparents did not say I love you very often. But you, I knew it did not have to be spoken you could see it. They may have said in private when no one was around. World war one and two and the great depression may have put a damper on expressing it out load for fear that someone or something would take it away. I hear it said about things that can’t love you back. And I hear people say it and don’t really mean it. I thank your mom and dad did and do love you. It is hard to not have them around you but there love is inside you.

EstherBelle said...

Thanks Roy. I knew they didn't love me,and tghey thought they had their reasons and I came to terms with that.But it made me know that if you love, you must let the one you love know, and the world should see that love!! I'm good.

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