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©September 2004

Carol Jane Remsburg

 

 

 

I Have Become My Mother

 

 

 

 

Yes, I finally have—I admit it.  Now had you told me I would or was going to be just like my mother some twenty years ago, I'd have struck you dead at twenty paces no matter how much I adored my mother.  We simply were nothing at ALL alike, never would be—I didn't even look like a child of hers.  But then, time always has the last laugh at us, doesn't it?

 

Now this isn't in reaction to how I deal with my daughter, now freshly fourteen and a freshman in high school.  Since she was born, the same words my mother spoke to all of her kids came flying out of my mouth when I swore they wouldn't.  Like after the umpteenth same question comes the answer, "Because I SAID SO!"  Motherhood becomes predictable in that route, but never our children—especially those with spine enough to continually challenge you and scare you to death—and that fear you cannot let show.  No, not the little fears, the big ones.

 

Twenty years ago, I'd have vehemently called you a liar and asked where your brain was.  Fifteen years ago, I would have just laughed.  Ten years ago, you would have caught me up short and I'd have given you a questioning look.  Five years ago, I'd have changed the subject.  Today, is another matter entirely.  I not only know that I have become her, I embrace it.  Granted, I'll never carry it off entirely.  I don't have her panache, her intensity, or her charisma.  I only have bits and pieces of the whole.

 

I'm loud, but not with the Ethel Merman projection that Mom could manage.  I can be engaging—when I want, but lacking of the magnetic personality that she had that could light up the room—or the entire state when she wanted to.  I am detail-oriented and focused, yet I don't have the incredible organization skills she did, I'll see the whole rather than focus on the little bits and build to the sum total. 

 

Mom was musical.  She could play piano/organ with flare and pizzazz and sing to mesmerize.  My musical talent isn't simply left-footed, but a prosthetic in that venue, but I can sure appreciate it and sneak singing to the old tunes when no one is around or purposefully embarrass my child just because I can.

 

Last Sunday brought it home to me.  It was the day after what would have been Mom's birthday, she would have been 68 had she lived that long, and one day before Erin's 14th birthday.  I had to prepare for another sleepover.  The house had been cleaned, the yard had been mowed, the laundry caught up—and it was time to cook before the girls came over.  So in the kitchen I settled in to deep-fry up a huge batch of chicken filled with secret spices, enough to fill the roasting pan.  Then there was the enormous container of mashed potatoes filled with butter and sour cream, succotash, cream gravy, and hot biscuits.  This was to be followed with the from scratch—chocolate chip/sour cream cake.  Erin pitched in and helped with the cake.

 

However, I made an afternoon of it.  In the kitchen, the granny apple candle flickered with zest and the little boombox played the CD's of the 50s.  On them were the soundtracks from the musicals, Pal Joey, Can-Can, and High Society.  I danced around the kitchen and sang to the tunes, trying to get Erin to dance and sing with me.  Her almost 14 year-old self couldn't bring herself to allow more than a smile and a quick escape.

 

There are times when the music will sweep you away from the mundane chores and back in time.  For a few minutes I was as swept up in the past so wholly that had my mother waltzed in the room, we'd have joined hands, sung together, and danced about the kitchen.  I wouldn't have thought twice about it.  I felt her all about me and her mega-watt smiles.

 

Once dinner was served and the music stopped, that warm feeling didn't end.  I did what she always did after a busy day, I took a good book and curled up in bed after checking on the giggly teens. 

 

What should have been a trying and exhausting day ended up being uplifting and a wonderment.  Simply trying to blend my horrific voice amid the tones of the masters, Bing, Frank, Shirley MacClaine, and the rest….even Rita Hayworth.  However, the very best of all tune to sing to was "Did you Evah"—Bing and Frank. 

 

Amid the exhausting run of shopping, cleaning, cooking, and subsequent party and mall visit WITH teens and a movie; there was a definite overtone that was simply Mom.  She would have made it more fun than I ever could, but I kept hearing her all weekend. 

 

On occasion, I would laugh at nothing just because I could see her, feel her along with the mischief that only she could bring to everything.  It wasn't just singing to the music, dancing in the kitchen, or plying my hand at her specialities; Mom was there guiding me, reinforcing the concept that this was supposed to be fun.

 

Yeah, I've finally acknowledged, I am my mother.  I am not shamed by it.  I only wish I were even more like her.  She took joy in her days and was a live wire electrifying all of us.  Acknowledging that I'm not perfect and never will be, but embracing the simple joys can mean everything and bring you closer to your roots. 

 

It makes me thankful for every sunrise and every sunset.  Embrace who you are and who you've become.  Each day is precious, and know it because your MOMMY told you it was. 

 

Enjoy the day!

 

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