Lessons from Mom

I’m taking some time off the usual blog rundown  to remember my mom, who passed away two days ago. We weren’t very close, but we didn’t hate each other either. I saw her for the last time three weeks ago when I went to America for a visit, and we had the most lovely, warm, connecting visit you could muster between two people who should know each other better than they did. I know it sounds weird, but it was really nice. It was just our way.

child bride

I’ve been writing about the things I remember about her when I was young. Here are a few of my favorites:

natural beauty

She was beautiful—like crazy beautiful. She didn’t wear a lot of makeup, but she had the most amazing hair, long, straight, silky. She always wore black liquid cat eye eyeliner and mascara. She had the best pro trick for putting on mascara—tilt a small table mirror under your lashes to make sure you get them completely covered, or tilt you head way up to get the roots. I still do it every day!

mom and grandma

JackieO 1608982_10202561083244699_1261587448_n

scholastic books

She’s responsible for my love of literature. As a kid, she made sure I had a library card no matter where we lived. I remember her taking me to the library for the first time, and letting me check out a HUGE stack of books. I kept thinking, “I get to read all of these for free? This place is great!” She made sure I knew the walk to the library. She bought a huge set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias from a telemarketer, which I still have, and she always let me buy as many books as I wanted from the Scholastic book club flyers that came to school in the 80’s. I bought as many as I could. Stacks. The library is still one of my favorite places to be.

She made the best scrambled eggs, maybe ever. I don’t know what her trick was (milk? low heat?), but she’d pick me up from pre-school and take me home and make me seriously the most incredible eggs ever ever. Scooby Do came on at 3, and I’d be in front of the TV, eating the best scrambled eggs ever with the most Beautiful Woman In The World. I had it pretty good.

mom and kids

blonde mom

When I was 10 I wanted to shave my legs, because my best friend Ronnie was shaving hers (I think she stole her sister’s razor from the shower but I’m not entirely sure.) Class Picture Day was coming and I was not going to wear a dress with fuzzy legs. I was burning with fear, whisper-practicing my argument for why I should be allowed to shave my legs. Finally I sat down and trembled it out. She sat back and lit a cigarette– and was almost professional about it. Like I was about to be interviewed to shave my legs.

“How old are you?”


“I see. Hmm. Ok, let’s think about it. I really don’t see why not… but 10 is a bit young.”

I was so sure she was going to shut me down. But she didn’t. She treated my request with respect—I think she knew how nervous I was to ask.. It was never brought up again, so I just stole my whoever’s razor was in the shower for Picture Day. She saw my awesomely smooth legs and never said a word about it.

Smart, gorgeous, and in those early days, a lot of fun. Thinking about the good times really helps. Sometimes, with family stuff, we get so deeply invested in our positions of being “right.” Right about being mad, or resentful, or whatever thing it is we need to hold onto. Let me tell you how nice it is to let all of that go and just focus on the good for a while. She was a really good mom sometimes, and a beautiful person always.

Unabashedly love the people who matter in your life.


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