My mother had a big heart and was kind and compassionate. She was a nurturer and a caregiver. It came naturally to her, almost like she couldn’t help herself. If someone needed her, she was always there. Even though she was the youngest of three sisters, she was the one they came to in times of trouble, even when she was the one who caused the trouble. For example, you may recall the blog I did on how my mother had her older sister’s fiancé picked up by immigration, only to have to help her bail him out when her sister called for her help.
My mother’s halo may be a little tarnished too. What mother tells a four year old not to tell her father about calls she was making every morning to her bookie? What mother, when she receives her favorite plant, red carnations, for Mother’s Day, tells her kids, “Why did you buy these, they are only going to die?” She had comments for plenty of gifts we got, like, “How much did they soak you for that?” and “You are wasting your money” when it came to things like jewelry and flowers. Then again, she never complained about boxes of chocolate. Those were quickly unwrapped and devoured without a peep. She appreciated lottery tickets, especially the scratch offs. Those were never a waste of money. She also didn’t raise hell when she got practical things like housedresses, nightgowns and slippers, but it would be a long, long time before you’d see her use them. She was always saving new things for the future even though she needed them at the time.
My mother was overly critical too. I was a naïve glutton for punishment and would ask to do chores like clean the bathroom. Maybe I was trying to win her approval or just plain stupid. One day she let me clean it. After being in there maybe an hour, I called her for inspection. I hoped to hear some praise, but instead she critiqued the work I had done. She showed me all the places I had skipped “to teach” me the right way to do it. The same went for ironing. She wanted me to iron her way because naturally my way was all wrong. Now you might think she was being helpful and not critical so let me give you another example. My brother brought home a report card once and all his grades were 90 and above. In the parent’s comment box my mother wrote, “I will see to it that he tries harder.” I cannot tell you how many times we have laughed till we cried over that one. We still have that report card too. Then there was the time I was dancing to American Bandstand one Saturday afternoon. When I felt I had perfected the dance steps, I called her in to watch me dance. After a couple of minutes she tells me I am no gazelle and have two left feet. In later years I discovered on my own that I have absolutely no rhythm and grace, my brother got all the genes for that. My mother was just being honest…to a fault. And once, when I told her I wanted to grow up and enter the Miss America pageant, she told me I wouldn’t win. She said I was too plain. So I instantly abandoned that idea because if your own mother won’t vote for you, who the hell will?
My mother was a smart cookie and insightful too. She had loads of common sense and you would have never known she was forced to leave school half way through ninth grade. She always valued an education and made sure that we went to college. My father thought college was a waste of time and money for girls. But my mother would tell him that I was going. She wanted to make sure I would be able to support myself and not be dependent on a man. My father clammed up. Four years later, when I was about to graduate, I brought up the idea of my going to law school. My father was all for it, but my mother said, “When the hell are you going to leave school and get a job?” What a difference four years makes!
I don’t know what things they do up in heaven, but I am pretty sure my mother is adding her two cents. I’ll bet she is criticizing the other angels or bossing them around or creating a little havoc, because she sure as hell is not just quietly floating on some cloud. If she is with her brothers and sisters, then you can be sure they are playing poker or gossiping or rehashing family history. If they have a race track in heaven, my mother will be at the ticket window placing bets. And, I’m sure that much of the time she is watching over us down here and putting in a good word for us up there when we need it. I think she is probably bragging about her children and grandchildren and showing our pictures to every angel that will listen…until we join her…then we will get no credit. My mother isn’t going to change just because she is an angel. And if her halo is a little tarnished and her horns come out every now and then, I’ll bet they love her all the more for it.
It's hard to believe my mother passed away almost nine years ago. We really miss her so much and she said we would.