Thursday, February 5, 2009

Happy Birthday Mom

Today would have been my mother's 73rd birthday. She passed away from leukemia in the summer of 2000 at the age of 64. She lived 8 years with a form of the disease that usually had a survival rate of only 5 years. She had treatments every few months in Bethesda, Maryland at the National Institutes of Health, and it's possible that the only reason she died when she did is because she stopped going for those treatments. She said she simply was tired. Can't blame her for that.

Mom and I didn't have the best relationship in the world. To tell you the truth, she didn't have the best relationship with any of her six kids. She had a hard life growing up, and as an adult didn't make the best of decisions, especially where men were concerned. That being said, it's still an odd feeling to know the one person who was in my life from the very beginning is no longer around.

I decided to go through the few photos I have and pull out the ones of Mom and me together. There aren't many. {I will warn you, the quality isn't too good as 1) the pictures are old and 2) I don't have a scanner so had to use my digital camera to make copies for the blog.}

This one is probably around December 24th, 1969 or so. I was born December 21 and the hospital sent me home on Christmas Eve in a giant Christmas stocking. Cute idea, huh? Check out those curlers in Mom's hair. She used those type of curlers all her life. Heck, it may have even been the same ones all those years. And if you have to go out for any reason with those curlers, you mustn't forget the obligatory scarf. It makes all the difference in the world.

According to the date on the edge of this photo, it was developed in April 1970. It seems in the back recesses of my memory Mom may have said something about this being taken the day I was christened. (Was christened Catholic as a baby, but not raised that way. Long story for another blog. Or for a book.) I love the little dress, but boy what a big head I had. And check out Mom's hair. She always wore it that way. I call it the Steel Magnolia hair. She used to tease it up and shape it into a big, red football helmet. (As opposed to Sally Field's big brown one.) We were living in Minnesota, but Mom never lost her "Southern" hairstyle.

This blurry one is from Christmas 1970, which makes me a year old. I love the blanket sleeper pajamas I'm wearing. Wish I had some now. Mom's hair isn't styled quite as big as in the previous photo, so I guess she wasn't planning on going out anywhere. You can't really tell, but those glasses are the cat's eye style that was so popular back then. (Gotta love the 70's.)

I have no idea where this one was taken, or what year. I'm assuming I'm about 4-years-old or so, as Mom is tying my shoe. (I remember being "forced" one day to finally learn to tie my shoes. Couldn't go outside and play until I tied my own shoes. Sheesh!) It looks like we're in a hotel room. The bedspread looks like another 70's thing, and this has to be the only time I ever saw Mom go out without the big hair. Wow!

No matter how dark some of the water was that flowed under the bridge, I can look back on life with Mom using the eyes of an adult daughter who has learned from her own experiences. She made some wrong choices, but don't we all. And besides that, she taught me a lot. She came from a deep south family with LOTS of prejudices, but she taught me differently. I wish she was alive today if for no other reason than to have been able to see our first black president take the oath of office. I have this mental picture of her calling her family to rub their noses in it. She would have enjoyed that.

And I have to smile when I think of the times Mom came to my rescue. Like once when I was in the third or fourth grade and another girl accused me of cussing at her. (I didn't even know any cuss words back then.) The school was threatening to suspend me. I was devastated. I loved school. I was standing next to Mom when she called the school and told whomever she spoke to that if they tried to suspend me, she would be at the next school board meeting and it would make Harper Valley PTA look tame. To this day, I wonder what she had on those people.

No matter what, life with Mom was interesting. And as I look back, I have to admit there's quite a bit of fodder for my writing back there. Times were tough, but that life made me who I am today.

Thanks Mom. Happy Birthday.


Angie Bailey said...

What a really sweet entry - thanks for posting it. I'll bet it was therapeutic for you to write all of that - it would be for me, anyway. I still have my mom, but it did make me think about my connection to her I loved the Steel Magnolia hair line; I adore that movie :)

Susan M. Bell said...

Yeah, it was more therapeutic than I thought it would be. I've written about Mom off and on over the years. No matter what happens, your mother will always be a part of your life.

And when I heard that line about her hair in Steel Magnolias, I just smiled to myself since I really knew how true that was for some. I swear, Mom's hair never changed.

Vicki Lane said...

Good post, Susan. Sounds as if you've come to a good place in your relationship with your mother. Because even when they're gone, there's still a relationship.

Anonymous said...

"The higher the hair the closer to God." lol!

I enjoyed your lovely tribute to your mom. Difficult moms can be, well, difficult, but you seem to be learning the lessons you were sent to learn.


Stephanie Stark Poling said...

This is really nice. I think you ought to send it WNC Woman. They would love a submission like this. Well done and moving, too.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I got your message and thought
it would be cool to see if we are related. I have a lot of cousins that I haven't even met!

This is a great post about your Mom. My Mother was much the same, tough and independent, and she even used to wear a similar hair style back then! WOW!

I would Love to talk about how we might be related, so contact me
whenever you wish. We can chat on
this blog site, or you can contact me through my personal email : .

I just joined this site a few days ago, so I don't really have anything posted yet, but I should have shortly. I am a Photographic artist and writer, and I still live in Minnesota. In fact, my Father passed away a little over 2 years ago, and I moved in with my Mother to take care of her. So here I am living in the house I grew up in again! It's a strange feeling sometimes, but I am glad I can be here for Mom.

I have some of my artwork posted on the following website, if you feel like looking at my work.

Well, take care and I'm sure we'll talk again soon !