Just because I had the good manners to sit upright and face forward I had already been zapped a couple times with x-rays and labeled a complete breech.
My Mother was a daughter of old world immigrants, her Mom from Ireland, her Dad from Wales.
Traditional values seem confusing today. You became a quick learner in the right and wrong department after a couple whacks across your butt with a belt. You only whined “I’m bored” once, because you were handed a list of chores. Threats of being left with the “Pineys” and eaten by the “New Jersey Devil” instantly stopped backseat squabbles between my brother and me on long car rides.
While traditional my Mom also inspired independence. She worked nights to balance parenting and her career as a psychiatric nurse.
Her career blended interesting insights into parenting. My Mom observed one of my earliest experiments in shaving and remarked that only child molesting, psycho killers shave that way. I still smile most mornings when remembering.
“Don’t cry, crying only lets them know they got to you.” To this day, I am not exactly sure who them and they are or what this means but I have stuck with this maternal advice.
Faith and religion were not optional activities. Being Irish Catholic was as necessary as food, shelter, and sleep. I ate so many fish sticks on Fridays I am traumatized by tartar sauce.
Through it all, love was unequivocal. That is the single most important lesson from my Mom. Well, that and the lilt of Irish laughter.
My Mom struggled her final years following a massive stroke. One January afternoon in 1997 I visited with her while my Dad had a doctor’s appointment.
That afternoon was surreal. My Mom was more lucid than in a decade. She asked me to read some of her favorite Bible passages and we got to talking about everything and anything. Yapping away more like two old friends than mother and son.
I thank God for that last memory and time together, as I would never see nor talk with her again.
Years later, I found a book of poetry she had given me decades earlier for my 30th birthday (which I had never even opened). I failed miserably in the ‘don’t cry’ lesson as I opened the book and read in her handwriting:
Walk easy on the Earth!!