Mum’s the Word
A.V. Walters
Mother’s Day is coming and it makes me think about my mom, and other moms who’ve had an impact on the way I think. I was blessed with a truly great mother. She was, and remains, interested in everything, creative, opinionated, charming, indulgent and still disciplined. She hung out with the greatest bunch of friends, mostly women, who were raucous and fun. My mother is a potter and so we found ourselves growing up at the edge of the world of creativity and craft and, on a good day, art. (We didn’t want to get snooty, after all.)
But mothers (and women) come in different stripes. It took me a little longer to open my eyes and appreciate all the things they had to offer. I had a boyfriend in college, Lionel. One weekend we went to visit his parents and to help a friend hang a gallery show near their home in Toronto. I was nervous, meeting the parents, and all. I needn’t have been. First, and it was the weirdest thing, his mom was the spitting image of my mom. They could have been sisters! I immediately felt comfortable with her and, I think, she with me.
Lionel had regaled me with stories of what a great cook she was, yet he couldn’t make toast. When it was time for dinner, I was not too surprised that the men-folk retired to the den while mom was left to do the cooking, alone. She closed the door to the kitchen. I joined her and offered to help. She assigned me to make a salad–and then she closed the kitchen door. The kitchen was stuffy and hot, so I asked why she kept the door closed.
She laughed, “Oh, habit, I guess,” taking a stick of butter out of the fridge, “They think I keep kosher.” She smiled.
During dinner (and it was great), she asked Lionel if he’d be back the next weekend for his cousin, Marsha’s wedding. From his response, it was obvious that he’d completely forgotten about it. He asked who she was marrying! His mother rolled her eyes.
“She’s marrying David! She’s only been dating him since high school, where have you been?”
Between bites, he responded, “David? No, he’s such a dweeb. She can’t marry him.”
Lionel’s mother paused a long moment before she answered, “Well, your cousin’s no prize either.”
Lionel almost choked on his dinner. That ended that conversation. I learned that different families communicate in different ways. I’d observed a push-pull in candor that was different in my family–but clearly worked for them. Lionel and I broke up shortly afterwards. I’ve never given him much thought over the years, but I think about his mother, frequently.
Happy Mother’s Day out there, to everyone in all their wonderful and different ways.