Grateful

The writing prompt for this week’s Sunday Scribblings is Grateful.  I’m thinking of writing of things I’m thankful for on Thanksgiving, so at first I thought that this might be redundant.  Then I decided that instead of writing about all of the things for which I am thankful, I would write about my mom, and how grateful I am that I had the time that I had with her.

I am grateful for those early years, living in the Bay Area as a small child.  My mom was working and going to school and raising two small children.  Money was very tight, but she never let that be a big deal to us.  We would have picnics, sometimes on campus at Berkeley, sometimes in our front yard.  We had a lot of joy and laughs.  She worked very hard, but never let us doubt that we were special and the center of her world.

I am grateful for the experience of living in Alaska as a child. I was very young, so I don’t have a lot of memories of our time on the Homestead.  But the memories that I do have are good ones.  I remember the sled dog team we had, playing with the dogs and having fun.  I remember going berry picking in the summer…blueberries and cranberries especially.  The best blueberries in the world, I think, are wild blueberries found outside of Fairbanks.  Maybe the ones in Maine are that good, or Canada, but I’ve never had them, so I don’t know.  I remember time spent with the Alaskan branch of our family, and lots of fun and laughter.  I am grateful for the hard work my mom put in during that time (during her whole life, actually, no one could ever accuse her of not working twice as hard as anyone else).  I wasn’t really aware of it at the time, but she worked at a local Montessori and she worked at KFC at the same time, since Montessori teaching doesn’t pay very well.  She worked hard around the little homestead.  With no running water, and having to bring in the coal for our little pot-bellied stove, it wasn’t your average household.  For a single mom with two young children, it was a lot of work on the shoulders of one person.

I am grateful for the example she provided, doing whatever was necessary for Richard and I.  When he was having trouble in school, she put us both in private school (on her waitress/teacher salary), so that he might learn to love school.  We both went, because she didn’t want him to feel singled out.  When the private school turned out to not be the best, she home schooled us.  We worked on projects that were far beyond what we might have had in standard school.  I still remember my geography report on Peru, studying their imports and exports, etc.  When I desperately needed braces, she got them for me.  With no insurance and as a single mom, this meant that none of us went to the regular dentist for the 5 years that I had braces.  (Another reason I want state health care…it’s stupid for kids to go without medical/dental care, just because their 2-job-working single mom is too busy paying for the braces).

I am grateful for the responsibilities that she gave us when we were a bit older, such as cleaning house, cooking dinner for the family, shopping for our own school clothes.  I did not like cleaning house, don’t get me wrong, but I never doubted that I was a contributing member of the household, and it was nice to know that I could help my hard-working mom in some way.

I am grateful that while our house was probably the worst of all our friends’ houses (we were poor, lived in a crappy rental duplex in a bad neighborhood, with mostly (all?) hand me down furniture), ours was the house that our friends wanted to come to.  My mom was the one that my friends came to, to talk about their problems and dreams.  And she always had time for them, to listen and be there.  I kind of took that for granted growing up, but my friends have told me since how much she meant to them, how much her advice and caring helped.

I am grateful that, when I was 21, she realized the mistake she had made in not having Richard and my fathers around.  I didn’t realize for a long time how difficult it was for her to reach out to them, to try to bring them back into our lives.  She told me once that it was the hardest thing she had ever done, she had so many fears and worries about it.  And yet, she did it anyway, because it was what was best for us.  I am grateful that she reached out to my father, and because of that, I have a wonderful relationship with him, with my step-mom, and with my sisters.

I am grateful for the stories and letters she wrote to Maya, first in the mail, then on her blog, because they not only gave Maya a glimpse into the life of her grandmother, who she saw at best once a year due to mom living in Alaska and us in California, they also made me feel more connected as well.

I am grateful for our years of Sunday evening phone calls.  For thinking before I called, “Gosh, I don’t know if I have anything to really say this week…” and yet finding that we would talk for 2 or 3 hours, every time.

I am grateful for the unconditional love and support that she never failed to give to us.  For the wonderful example of how to live your beliefs and morals, how to be a caring, loving person, and how to let your children know that you are on their side.

I am grateful to have had such a wonderful mother.  I’m grateful for every day of the life she had here. And I am grateful for the memories I cherish.

21 thoughts on “Grateful

  1. It is wonderful to read all your stories of your childhood and your mother’s loving care of you. It is also good to see that your grief over last months of her life does not blind you to all of the good times in the years before.

  2. Beautiful. It makes me cry for your loss and for your daughter’s loss. How wonderful that you can be grateful for all she did for you.

  3. This is a wonderful tribute to a wonderful mother. I still have one like yours and am blessed for everyday she is in my life. I’m glad you have so many lovely memories of your mom.

  4. What a wonderful tribute to your mother! I also grew up in a non-affluent home where I never felt deprived – picnics, flying home-made kites – listening to the radio together etc. You presented a vivid picture of an amazing woman.

  5. Man, did my taste in clothes suck or what? How much to burn that picture? And why is the tricycle upside down? Were we playing “Ice Cream Man” again?

    About those braces… When I was twenty I spent every other Friday at the dentist getting over $2,000.00 worth of dental work done to repair my mouth. All paid for out of my own pocket. The dentist let me pay on installments. It was one of the few positive things to come out of my relationship with Judi. Anyway, I was never angry with mom about that. Your braces were very needed and I could have taken better care of my teeth.

    Oh, and that private school? BWAHAHA! What a disaster. I didn’t learn a damned thing at that school. I had to teach myself all of the crap that I should have learned in the third grade in the fourth grade while trying to learn what I was supposed to in the fourth grade. Other than my continued inability to master multiplication and cursive handwriting so awful that only a pharmacist could read it (no, I’m not kidding), I managed to make do.
    -R

  6. R, as I remember it, mom would bring me the three ugliest things in the store, and I would pick the least horrid of them. Of course, it was her least favorite of the three. You probably got that shirt the same way. (Though I think it’s kind of cute).

    The braces, yeah, I had a lot of cavities after as well, from not going to the dentist. But the braces were needed…the ortho said my jaw would have broken without them, I was getting so much pressure from teeth trying to find room. Maya had something called an ‘expander’ put in her mouth when she was 7, which widened her mouth and made room. Wish I had had that. Of course, she still had braces, and has them again, so it might not have helped much.

    The school, no, we learned nothing. I don’t think mom cared much…just wanted you to have fun for awhile. I don’t think we learned much when she home-schooled us either, a combination of the state books coming really late, and her working two jobs. That’s why she ended up holding us back a year – two years of learning almost nothing meant one year of public school. 😉

  7. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece. I went to Maya’s Granny today just because I miss her and was thinking of her. She was a treasure and touched so many lives.

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