Thursday, May 8, 2008
47 years ago today, someone very special was born.
My own Mama.
I know I've blogged her up in the past, I probably always will. She is undoubtedly my favorite. She deserves every accolade, every award, every poem written, every song sung, every pot of coffee brewed.
When I was born, my mom was 18, a month shy of her 19th birthday. She was a freshman in college, living with some second cousins. She walked to classes each morning, studied hard, ate well, and never wore maternity clothes. She was alone. She was determined. I was born on a Friday, during the noon hour, after a long, uneventful delivery, three weeks late. She marveled at the similarity when the lil' dude was born on a Friday, during the noon hour, after a long, uneventful delivery, one-and-a-half weeks late. That weekend I was born, my grandparents drove the hour to visit my mom, peek at me, then they took me home. My mom went back to school the next week. She walked to classes each morning, studied hard, and wore the same jeans. She was alone.
She would visit me at her parents' farm on the weekends, reading and doing homework on the Greyhound bus the whole 120 miles one way. She didn't have any money, she didn't bring me fancy presents with each visit. She simply came home to see her daughter. She would put me to bed and rock me and take me for walks across the river. Or, we would sit together at Grandma's famous kitchen table, the one she still has today, and play with what looks like a camera in the photo above. She was my Mama, I knew that from the very beginning.
One June when I was three, my mom got married to my dad. They both had graduated from college that May, and had jobs lined up. They had a small wedding with one attendant each and had their reception in the church basement. Grandma made punch and cream-cheese mints. They played horseshoes all afternoon back at the farm, and there are pictures of the kids on the swings being pushed higher and higher by various women in nylons. I was their flower girl. I distinctly remember crying that day back by the washing machine; I was sad to be leaving my grandparents'. I learned how to read the paper there, how to appreciate Dan Rather, what goes into Ham Spread Funeral Sandwiches, and a whole lot about love and sacrifice and family. My grandma cried too; you see, Grandpa worked over-the-road construction during the week, so it was just her and I during the days, give and take some cousins, aunts, neighbors, or church ladies. Grandma was my first friend.
Then, we went Home.
As I got older, my mom shared everything with me, and answered all my questions. She said that weekend when I was a few days old was the hardest part of her life. Leaving her newborn baby and returning to school. She said she knew if she didn't make that decision, she wouldn't be doing what was best for us, for me. She knew it was our way to a better life. When the lil' dude was born, people naturally asked my mom about what type of a baby I was, my tendencies, patterns, quirks. She would mention how my grandma did daycare for her while she finished college, and how they both have distinct memories of me as a baby. She was never ashamed.
And that "better life" she referred to? I've had nothing but the best life, since that weekend as a newborn I went to stay at my grandparents'. At the time, they had a little house dog of some shaggy sort, named Uffda (yes, my heritage is Norwegian) who would bark at my grandma when she would hear me cry from my crib upstairs. Baby monitors, circa-1980. To this day, Grandma still refers to that tiny bedroom as mine. But I have always belonged to my mom. I grew up the same as everyone else did, in a house that was loud and smelled like wonderful food, with homemade outfits and quilts and toys, and a huge family who loved and loved and loved. And still loves.
Mama? Happy birthday, daughter loves.