Monday, April 7, 2008

Ten Facts About My Mother

1. My mom was born May 25, 1944, which makes her 63 years old. She looks closer to 53. She's an attractive woman, and I'll be lucky if I look as good as her as I age.

2. She's shy and doesn't give herself enough credit for being clever and charming. However, she is a docent (top-level tour guide) at the Royal Ontario Museum, which means that she stands up in front of a group of visitors and speaks about the displays at least once a week. I know that she gets nervous every time, and I'm really proud of her for pushing through her fears.

3. I have a slightly crooked tooth at the front of my lower jaw. My mom has the same crooked tooth, as does her father. I would like to trace the crooked tooth back through time, and meet all my snaggle-toothed ancestors.

4. My mom is a fantastic cook. She makes the best soups I've ever tasted, and the best from-scratch birthday cakes with buttercream icing. It's lucky for me that I have a lightening-fast metabolism (also inherited from my mom) so that I could and can get away with eating all her awesome, rich food.

5. My mom has Celiac Disease . She suffered most when she was a little kid, before Celiac disease had been defined. Sufferers of Celiac must avoid gluten, which is present in certain grains, including wheat. Medical science hadn't figured that out yet, so my mom's diet was severely restricted. She was only allowed to eat rice, boiled beef, mashed bananas, and skim milk. She craved a more varied diet. In grade school, when the cravings got bad, she would steal coins from her mother's purse and sneak off to the corner store for a candy binge. Then she'd end up in the hospital and no one would know why she'd had a relapse. To this day she will not drink skim milk, only homogenized.

6. I inherited my mood swings from my mom. What the family calls "Black Moods" came down through my grandfather and his brothers, then my mother and her sisters. I don't write about these moods much on my blog. Instead, I force myself to write about something light-hearted. Once I've spent an hour or so polishing a piece that's funny or describes something I enjoy, I find that my mood improves.

7. Yesterday I spent all afternoon with my mom, trying to get her new computer set up. I didn't want to let her putter around in the kitchen while I did the set-up. This is her computer, and I wanted her to really own it by being hands-on from the beginning. She opened the box, she plugged in the cables, she turned it on for the first time, while I helped and gave instructions. When we ran into technical difficulties, her anxiety grew, and I struggled to stay level. It wasn't easy.

8. By the time I got home, I was feeling drained and triggered. But instead of dumping out all the difficulties of the day in detail, I'd rather remind myself why I'm grateful for my mom.

9. She never learned to ride a two-wheeled bicycle, whistle, or blow bubbles with bubble gum. When I was a kid, it made me sad knowing that she had missed out.

10. I love when she tells stories about when I was a baby. I can never hear enough about how cute I was, and how brilliant, even though I suspect that she's exaggerating. She claims that my first word was "Portulaca". I'm more inclined to believe my grandmother, who says that my first word was "car".


Anonymous said...


Nicole said...

Sigh, it's good that you don't dwell on the negative. The positive gives one much more energy.
You know, I only learned that my Dad couldn't write, only read when he was already over 40. But he always tried to keep on top of things, despite that fact (during that time he was already in a wheelchair).
He often drove me nuts and today I regret not having been more patient with him...

Warped Mind of Ron said...

Kudo's to your mother! (sounds very street doesn't it?) It's best to be hands on with the computer from the start. You learn more from encountering problems and working through them than someone fixing them for you. Is it possible we are related because of that black mood thing???

Gretchen said...

What great memories. :)

Kelly said...

This was such a sweet tribute. Your mother is as lucky to have you, as you are to have her.

My front tooth is a bit crooked. Maybe we are distant cousins.

Peace out!

Leighann said...

Can I borrow your mom for awhile??

My mom and I both have long crooked fingers.

Nilsa S. said...

Love this post. Your mom has some wonderful traits shared with my paternal grandmother (she was a docent at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and she never learned to ride a bike) and my mother (who is a fabulous cook). This is a lovely tribute.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I enjoyed your comment on my blog. I am glad you enjoyed my little pig. I had a mature boar pig years ago that had a large rough pasture to roam in. I was known as the place that had the large pig. My son and I still get people identifying us as such. It did mot have access to the house. I did have a pot bellied pig for a while. They can be kept in the house.
There are very few farm animals I have not had in my house at one time or another, when they were ill or injured. You can do this sort of thing when you do not have a wife to worry about "the house".

I enjoyed your comments on your mother. You are lucky to have her. My mother died when she was 61, about 30 years ago. She still is a strong influence on my life.

If your mother worked at the ROM she may have known my niece, Elizabeth McArthur, who has moved on to work at the National Science Museum in London, England.

jameil1922 said...

my father says my first word was dada. he's probably lying since i just asked him. a docent? that's so cool!! i'm glad you maintained your cool. parents. you already know my struggle w/mine. lmao @ you tracing that crooked tooth. i need some of that cake w/buttercream icing!! can you imagine me w/that restricted diet???? NOOOOOOOO!! when i whistle i think what my mom says "a whistlin woman and crowin hen, never come to no good end." she says she got that from her mother but my grandmother whistles... maybe in her age she just does what she wants... idk.

Anonymous said...

This post would make, a really good, gift for your Mom's birthday. Write it up nice with a felt pen and put it in a card. I bet she would love to have it. I love getting gifts like that.

Sparkling Red said...

Unsigned: :-)

Nicole: It sounds like your Dad's life wasn't easy. It's difficult when people close to us are struggling - I always find that I have a hard time keeping my own equilibrium. We do the best that we can... :-)

Ron: We could be related. I heard a family rumour that my great-grandfather who gave us all his stormy disposition may have had a wife and children before he married my great-grandmother. So no-one knows for sure, but there's a chance we have mystery relatives we've never met!

Gretchen: Thanks!

Kelly: Could be! I'm glad that I don't have 100% straight teeth. I think the crooked one adds character. :-)

Leighann: Sure you can borrow her! She'd love your kids. As long as they don't try to wrestle her, she'll bake them a yummy cake. :-)

Nilsa: Thanks! I love that my mother is a docent. She's always excited about learning new things, and then she wants to share her enthusiasms with me.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: I would love to have a pot-bellied pig as a pet. However I think the condo board would frown upon it! I'll ask my mom if she knows of your niece. The name sounds a bit familiar to me. My mom has been there for many years, so it's quite possible.

Jameil: Of course he would say that your first word was "Dada"! He's a loveable scoundrel. I love that saying about a whistlin' woman. Classic!

1218blog: That's a good idea. Her birthday's coming up next month. She'd blush ten different shades of pink. :-)

R.E.H. said...

We all need to show respect and love to our mothers. I find that very important.

I also helped my mother with her computer (gave her my old one when I bought a new). It can be frustrating trying to teach her to use it... my mother is 73.

Aurora said...

Portaluca--what a lovely first word! Of course I couldn't not click on the link to find out what it meant.

It is indeed ingenious how you are using your blog to lift your mood. I am impressed.

What a great portrait of someone!

Jenski said...

I want your mom! I mean, I love my mom and want to keep her, so you can keep yours, but still. The tooth thing is great. I also congratulate you on staying level with the whole computer thing (I still am easily annoyed by my mom) and making an effort to improve your mood when the Black Mood strikes!

PixieVonAzia said...

aww how nice dedicating a whole post on your mommy :D

Well let us know how goes your family tree on all your 'snaggle-toothed ancestors' goes :D

Sparkling Red said...

R.E.H.: Good luck with giving your mom all the patient tech support that she needs. I think it's important for us all to keep up with technology as we age, because increasingly it's necessary in order to maintain social connections. In other words, e-mail and the internet will help my mom be less lonely, so it's a worthy effort. :-)

Aurora: The first time my mom told me that story, I had no idea what Portulaca was. She says she had me out in the backyard while she was gardening and she was showing me flowers as she planted them. Now I feel a special bond with Portulaca.

Jenski: Aw, my mom will be so happy to know that she's desired by so many potential foster "kids". Too bad everyone lives at the four corners of the earth, or I guarantee she'd have you all over for dinner (with cake).

Pixie Von Azia: I'll see what I can do about the family tree, but I'm not holding my breath. Past my great-grandparents I'd have to do research in Russia. Maybe their spirits will come to visit me in my dreams. I'll know them from their teeth when they smile.

Leighann said...

My kids would love to help bake a cake! That's an area I wish I had more patience for, I let them help but only so much!

Keera Ann Fox said...

There's a similar tooth-position inheritance in my family, on my father's side.

Thanks for introducing your mother! I like her. 'Course, I like her daughter, too. I'm happy for this blogging world and my new friend in Canada. :-)

Sparkling Red said...

Keera: Aw... :-D
You're so sweet!