There were many things that mamma said that I didn’t understand.Now that I think of it, there were many things she did that I didn’t understand. One thing was if you were walking to school and a funeral procession passed you , you had to stand still with your head down until all the cars passed. I found this difficult as a squirmy child but I still did it.

Of course ,it was a sign of respect for the dead even if you didn’t know the person.

We lived next to a very large graveyard.When a funeral procession proceeded up the driveway, mamma always blessed her very catholic self. If it was raining, she’d say,” happy is the corpse that the rain falls on.” When asked why she always said that, she told me that the angels were crying ,not for the dead person, but for the ones left behind who were not going to heaven now.

If she saw a wedding ,she say “Happy is the bride that the sun shines on!” This meant that God was smiling at the new couple starting out, and they would be happy. I don’t know where either saying came from, but I loved the sentiment behind them. Mamma always wished the comers and the goers well.

My grandmother was a BATTLEAXE! We called her Old Ironsides. We did not like her! She was six feet and as cold as a witch’s tit!As hard as my mother had it , she never once looked for help from her mother, not even to babysit on occasion. The woman was a brute.

Our pappa on the other hand was as gentle as all get out. He could neither read or write (not even his own name) but he played the fiddle. Hum a song and Pappa could play it. He worked inthe pit (read coale mines ) for sixty years. It was the time of the company stores . Men came out of those mines ,after working a sixty hour week and end up with a quarter because they dealt with the Company Store! Granny was way too smart for that and in the dirty thirties, they had food and money to buy necessities. They grew their own and charged nothing. The nine kids in the family worked like dogs to maintain that.

Pappa couldn’t read or write, and that was the way Granny wanted it. The kids wanted to teach him how to write his name, but granny put a stop to it!

He got the change out of his Pay packet, with which he bought peppermints, which he gave to the kids. Not only his, but all the kids in the neighbourhood. he was a sweet old man. he bought a pint of rum once and drank half of it, because all the guys in the pit talked about the wonderful time they had getting drunk on the weekend.He got soooo sick that the next morning he was seen throwing the other half of the pint against the barn door. The bottle wouldn’t break and eventually ,he gave up.

I remember him streeling molasses over crackers for me and my sister on the kitchen table. That was our treat! i hated molasses but i’d have eaten shit on a shingle if it came from Pappa’s hands! My mother loved him dearly as did we! She knew his short comings and she didn’t care.

Granny was another story.She was scary. Mamma used to make us go visit her. All i remember was how fast the trees went by as we took the taxi to her house.I remember being in her house with four foot coleous in the windows and being told to be quiet. Pappa was dying at the time of throat cancer. He’d never smoked a day in his life and had only ever had that one drink. When he died every one of his children came home to his funeral. He was sixty -nine years old and worked in the pit since he was nine, to support his mother’s family.

Granny ,on the other hand ,died fifteen years later. Mamma had to beg her brothers  and sisters to come home for the funeral. Only half came! Charity was not a word in Granny’s vocabulary. She was in charge of giving out “Relief” in that small community. We’d call that welfare today.God bless those poor people who went before her to get that help!I hope God forgives her because I know the devil had a pitchfork up her arse. She was one tough broad!

But as Mamma always said,”You can pick your friends , but you can’t pick your relatives!” I am really glad that my mamma was more like her father, else we wouldn’t have survived!

Thanks again , Mamma!

Dear God I miss my mother!  She died on April 28, 1981 and hell ,I was not ready to let her go.I  needed her . I still need her by times. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. Sometimes with a smile and sometimes with a tear.

I remember being a teenager and hating her with all my might .I think I might have told her that on occasion. She’d look at me and say “Go ahead and hate me.” I wish I could take those words back. I wish I could tell her how very right she was . I wish she were here to tell me, I was only a kid .Once words are out they can’t be taken back. And dammit they hurt. I know because my own children have said or thought that of me. The first time I heard it ,I thought I would die. But I didn’t. The kids were preteens and just starting to feel their adolecent oats.

I was devastated until I thought of mamma and how I said the same things to her. Of how I ran away when there were dishes to be done,or how I thought she loved everybody more than me. Feeling sorry for myself because “nobody” understood me.

When I look back on it now, I could kick myself seven ways to Sunday. I think God screwed up . We should be older first and then get younger. That would avoid all the hurtful things we say when we are young.

She’d say “Go ahead and hate me! You still aren’t doing that and I don’t care what your so called friends are doing!” I’d curse under my breath and run away to the place in my mind where she didn’t exist. I never understood how much grief she saved me.

If I could change anything in my life ,it would be the way I treated my mamma. I’d have done those dishes without complaint. I’d have been in the house before curfew. I’d have been a better daughter. But it is much too late now. If  ifs and ands were pots and pans, there’d be no need for tinkers hands!

My children are what they are. No ,they don’t always love me. Sometimes they don’t even like me.But I hope they know that I love them, even when they hate me. I love them enough to let them hate me.

I just hope that mamma knows that even when I thought she was the dumbest person in the universe, that I loved her more than I can express. If I were a wise person ,I would say to kids today ” You only have one mamma, and she won’t be there forever. Love her while you can”

Wherever you are Mamma, I love you! happy Mother’s Day!

Mamma did not like people who made fun of others. It was OK if you carried on with a friend as long as the banter wasback and forth.But if you made funof somebody and that personwasn’t there to hear you say it to their face, she’d always come back with,”Don’t make fun, the banana skin might be under your own feet someday.She did not want us getting any high fluetin ideas about ourselves being better than others. In her eyes, we all do stupid things sometimes, so be careful who you critize because somebody may be watching you too.

I recently committed this sin. My hubby of thirty five years was coming up the driveway. It is spring and in spring our driveway becomes a sea of mud.

Now every year, he,without fail bogs one of the cars to the axles in the mud. Well, even though I warned him to stay to the right he managed to bog the car. Not only that, once he bogged it (Iwalked to the house by this time), he continued to spin the tires in the mud for five minutes, digging quite a hole. When he finally came up to the house I taunted him about being stubborn and not listening.

The next day he got the car out and washed away the mud. He also put up a reflector to let visitors know about the slurry mud that might swallow their cars. A couple of days went by and bright eyes here thought she could do better than hubby and get by the mud by keeping to the right. It didn’t happen. I landed in the hole he had dug days before! When I called him at work to tell him, he did not chide me or make fun. When he came home, he got the car out and didn’t even torment me about being a know-it-all. I wish he had!

As I sat there in my bogged down car all I could think of was,”Don’t make fun. The banana skin might be under your own feet someday!” I slipped on that muddy peel too.Lesson learned mamma!

Mamma was the queen of the guilt trippers! If there was a guilt trippers’ bus, she was the driver.She used guilt as a means of control without hollering or nagging. Sometimes it was a steely look, or a roll of the eyes,but you knew! You knew when you were doing something” she who must be obeyed ” disapproved of .

It was my unfortunate luck that I was a teenager when mamma was going through the”change”! I could have stood on my head and spit quarters and it would not have been enough. She was never big with the compliments but during this time ,she was brutal!

It was the late sixties, early seventies when styles were diverse to say the least.If I wore a mini skirt, she’d say’Humft ,that’s a nice belt you have on!” Believe me it was not the shortest skirt in the world.If I wore a midi skirt ( an ankle lenght skirt, popular at the time),she’d say “Don’t tell anyone I own you!” There was no pleasing her! So I decided not to try and please her at all! She suspected me of every story she heard on the news.

If I came in five minutes after curfew ,she was there smelling my breath for liquor and checking my eyes for drugs, neither of which I did. After I left for college she mellowed. My baby sister would come in pissed to the gills and go in and talk to her.(The gall!) Mamma never suspected. My brothers would have bonfires in the back yard and she’d approve. Mind you ,one would find the wine bottles in the bushes the morning after ,but she never suspected.

One day I came home from practice teaching and she had cleaned my brother’s room . She was airing out his sleeping bag and found quite a number of self rolled “cigarettes”. “God love him ,” she said , “he’s trying to save money by rolling his own!”Yeah! Right! I said nothing. She was the most mellow parent I’d ever seen!  Not only that ,she would have defended them against anything! I wanted to scream!

I always swore that I would not go through menopause because I went through hers. Guess what ,I did anyway, and now that I’m through it ,I understand. You are not reasonable or logical. I can see why she was so forceful with me , and not with them. And if she were alive today, I don’t think she would mind me telling anyone she owned me!

When hubby and I first got married ,cooking was not something I did very well. If we had potatoes, I peeled ten. He would wonder if the army was coming to supper.If we had beans ,I added a can of water. One day he looked at the watered down beans in the pot and said “That’s not beans .That’s bean soup!” Well I didn’t know any better,so I was hurt and sulked because that was how we had them at home.

Eventually I learned how they were supposed to look and tase.. I also began to realize why we always had watery beans at home.Nobody was ever turned away from my mamma’s table, especially if you were a kid.

Every Saturday we had beans and weiners. I can’t remember ever having anything else on Saturday. Sometimes the weiners would be cut up and put with the beans. And then we actually had buns and made real hotdogs. There was always only a dozen weiners and you only got one. Now if there were other kids around, it was weiner pennies and beans .

Mamma would always say,”put another can of water in the beans.” If you were still hungry ,you could “fill up on bread and tea.” There was always lots of homemade bread and tea so strong it could strip paint. No child was ever told to go home to eat .

One day I came home from highschool and there in the kitchen were two neighbour kids, slurping down Lipton’s chicken noodle soup. I gave Mamma the question eyes and she said that Freddie and Ricky had come over to visit her. I caught on right away Another can of water in the beans.

Many times I’d come home and there would be the teenage friends of my two younger brothers, having tea with her. No sign of my brothers, just them telling her about what was going on in their lives. Another can of water in the beans, but when she died there was a huge bouquet of flowers from those very boys. I now understand why there was always “another can of water in the beans.”Thanks Mamma for teaching me how to “cook” Welcome!

I am not what you’d call a snappy dresser. There was a time in my life that I could get anything off the rack and it would fit.That aside ,I hated doing even that. I don’t exactly have the best taste in the world and I know it. I also know that I could send my sister Dooker (her unfortunate nickname) with money and she would come back with something that would be the right colour, size, style and she would get it on sale! OHHH to have that skill!Ohhh to even care about that skill!

This is not new for me.When I was little, Mamma would try to dress me up ,but something always happened; an irresistable mud puddle,new spring green grass ,a freshly tarred road. There was always something!

Spaghetti jumped on me. Jam found a way to attack my blouse. A car would drive by, splash us all and I’d be the only one to get soaked! I was a magnet for mess.

One time I was to do an individual piece in the local speech festival. Mamma went to the expense of buying me a new dress. It was a yellow gingham with a flared skirt. I thought I looked like Cinderella. I was super careful to avoid puddles, cars ,food and stray dogs. At the competition I sat like a lady ,had good posture and did my best. I came in second out of sixty-four,which wasn’t bad for a first timer. Best of all my new sunshiny dress was in perfect shape.

I walked home ,still being careful, and quite proud of myself. I ran into the house to give my mother my ajudication. She told me I’d “done good” and told me to take off the new dress. As I walked away she told me to wait a minute. Mamma lookedat the skirt of my dress and said,”What the hell is that?”

There on the back of my beautiful new dress was a big red smear of something. Mamma lifted the skirt and smelled the smear.

“That’s nailpolish ,”she sighed,”Where did you get nailpolish?” There was no nailpolish in our house and I didn’t have a clue ,(and I still don’t) where that nailpolish came from!

Mamma took the dress and did her best to get that damned red smear off,muttering all the while to herself,”You could put a million dollar dress on that girl and she’d find some way to wreck it!” Now this would seem harsh if it wasn’t true. I have ruined many many clothes in my lifetime. Some nice and some favourites.Sometimes a tear ,sometimes by stain and sometimes with javex( which I love).

Hubby and I have this fancy semi-formal thing to go to soon.I  have to get something to wear and I am dreading going shopping. So here’s what I’m going to do.I’m taking Dooker with me.And when she finds something that fits ,is the right style and colour, I will wrap it in plastic until the day of the event. I will avoid food and javex and maybe ,just maybe I’ll make it through the event without a rip,fallen hem or a stain. And I sure as hell won’t be wearing nailpolish!