Sunday, November 22, 2009

My Mom

My mom is a funny, kind and generous lady. And I mean she is a LADY. She was brought up in the old-fashioned, somewhat Victorian way...with a French grandmere living in her home, two parents and (as she puts it, with mild disdain), "Hot and cold running servants." That's a bit of an exaggeration, but they did have live-in help.

My mom is the kind of mother who brings something for us EVERY SINGLE TIME she visits our house. Sometimes, it's newspaper clippings, such as this (one of my favorites, which has been on our refrigerator door for YEARS - hence the stains):

"It's for you, Honey...looks like something from your parents."

or this one, which she brought a few weeks ago:

She also brought chocolate truffles, a cartoon for David and a check to help pay for quilt materials (for Katie's Comforters Guild). She is the kind of person who writes a "thank-you" note to me for having her and my dad over for dinner.

Mom is one of the most loyal, supportive cheerleaders in my life. She always tries to make things FUN, and she is always on my side. ALWAYS.

When we were small children, we didn't have a lot of money. But my mom seemed to be able to find funds to buy sweet little presents for us...things from the dime-store that would delight a child, such as a tiny, plastic tea set, with miniature plates, cups, silverware and teapot. I can still recall my delight at receiving one of these presents...usually for no special reason.

I'm the youngest of three, so I was the last one to go to school. Before I was in kindergarden, she used to take me out to lunch at Newberry's, where we would sit at the counter, and I would have a hot dog and a grape soda from that machine that continuously circulates the liquid. Remember those? Or we would go to Frederick and Nelson's department store - when I was much too young to be good company - and have lunch in the Rhododendron Room, which was painted with - you guessed it- rhododendrons. She would let me order my favorite meal: chicken rice soup, and Olympic Berry sherbet for dessert. Then we would visit the bakery and buy some teddy bear cookies for my brother and sister - and I would have one on the way home.

One of my favorite "Mom" stories is of the time she saved my life. I was taking swimming lessons, and the moms used to sit on the sidelines of the pool, watching us. There was a large boy in my class, who was a bully. One day, while I was playing in the shallow part of the pool, he got on my back and held my head under the water. I struggled with him, but he was too strong for me, and I began to lose consciousness. At just that moment, he "flew" off of me, because my mother had jumped in the pool, and yanked him off. As I recall, she was wearing a dress at the time. I love that in a woman.

Then there is the time that she dropped me off at nursery school, late, on the day of a field trip, but I won't tell that one here. I had an adventure, a long, healthful walk, and it all turned out fine.

My mom went to Stanford University, and is very, very quick and smart. She can make withering comments, but is also very caring. She loves to learn new things. She was baptized after she became a grandmother. If I ask her to pray for me, she is always happy to do it. She is not athletic, but she likes to watch Stanford's football team, and she discovered that she likes to watch baseball. She does not ride a bicycle. She loves to walk on the beach.

When my mom left college and home to get married at 19, she moved with my dad into a very modest one-bedroom apartment, which she had to learn how to clean...for the first time in her life. The girl who had been driven to school by a chauffeur (she insisted that he let her off a few blocks away, so she wouldn't be teased) learned to drive a car. She helped my dad build their cabin (above), when neither of them knew a thing about building. They did it together, with the help of their neighbor (who was a carpenter), and that cabin became her favorite place in the world. It was the first home they ever owned. She learned to fish and cook.

Whoops! I know, I shouldn't have, but I LOVE that photo! They built that fireplace together.

There:  now you can see her in her "glam" mode. That dress is still in style; I have it now.

She was my matron of honor when I married Gregg.

She is the best grandmother anyone could ask for. Always interested in their stories, laughing at their jokes, giving presents that delight, buying their favorite foods for them, playing cards or reading with them.

Mom passed her love of all things French on to us. She shared her love for art and beauty, quality and whimsy; her passion for the beach, her reverence for education and good thinking, for God and honor. She is unpretentious, and not materialistic in any way. She doesn't like to have her picture taken. She is strong-minded, and a survivor.

I love my mom. Happy Birthday, Miss Ellie!


Laurie Brandriet Keller said...

What a lovely piece of history about your Mom ... we share the same birthday !!! I love you, Karen. We are heading to my step daughter's in Franklin, TN for the holiday. Always grateful for our friendship ... xoxo.

ChiTown Girl said...

What a wonderful and loving tribute to such a spectacular lady! Happy Birthday to you mom! :)

Elizabeth said...

Now I know why you are as you are, Karen. Your mother is an amazing woman and so, so beautiful, inside and out. Thank you for her mini-biography and all the wonderful photos. Happy Birthday to your mother!

Karyn said...

Such a nice post! But I knew she was a wonderful person before I even read it because she raised you! Happy birthday Miss Ellie!

Mary said...

I loved reading about your mom. She's obviously a very special woman, like you!

Karen said...

What an incredible mother. It helps to explain who you are--just as incredible.

Busy Bee Suz said...

I have never read such a loving and perfect tribute. I ADORE your MOM for many reasons that I have read from you...her kindness, her humor, her love for her family. But most of all...I love her for bringing YOU into this world and raising you up to be the wonderful person you are!!!
Happy birthday Miss Ellie!!!!

Maggie May said...

What a great post. I read and enjoyed every word. Happy Birthday to your intelligent, interesting, accomplished and loving mom!

Jason, as himself said...

Do you think your mom would adopt me?

Lakeland Jo said...

lovely celebration of your mum

Jennifer Stumpf said...

lovely photos, lovely stories, lovely mother and daughter. happy birthday to a lovely lady!

Gannet Girl said...

What a wonderful tribute to a marvelous woman. In that aspect of your life, you are incredibly graced, Karen.

Dawn ~ BJSMomma said...

awww Happy Birthday to your momma...such sweet sweet stories. I LOVED them!

Bridget :) said...

How precious! You guys look so much alike!

Karla said...

What wonderful memories, thanks for sharing. I hope your mom did have a wonderful birthday. :)

Anonymous said...

What a fantastic tribute to your Mom!

I was the youngest of six, and I too, had the best time with my Mom the year everyone was in school but me. She made me a soft-boiled egg and served it in an egg cup, we'd watch Bewitched together and visit my grandpa at the old folks home. She also (like you!) saved me from drowning - we were at the beach and I "found" the drop-off ~ she had to run in fully clothed and rescue me. Then, since she was so wet, we had to go home. Every single one of my siblings (and probably a few of the neighbor kids - we'd take everyone to the beach - this was in the day when you could pack 12 kids in a stationwagon) gave me the stink-eye for having to leave early!

Hugs to you and to your Mom, too. L in AK

Kay said...

Love the pics of your mom...esp the one with the fireplace. I think that's pretty neat that she could do all of that and still look great in a party dress! You have a really special mom! : )

Renee said...

What a fantastic post. Happy Birthday to your Mom. What a beautiful lady.

Love Renee xoxo