We had the best Mom, and that’s no Tale.

We had the best Mom. The Creator knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us her. I’m not so sure he gave her a fair deal with us sometimes, though. We had to say goodbye to mom over a dozen years ago now. It sounds like forever and feels like a moment ago.

I can still hear her voice. Some people would say that she and I sounded alike. Some would say that I looked like her. “Oh, that’s Barbara’s boy for sure!” They’d say. I got her temperament too. Well, maybe more like her temper. You could get her dander up, and she would commence to slamming cabinet doors in the kitchen like you have never heard cabinets slammed before. I remember one time she started slamming doors and when she opened the next door, a wine glass fell out and popped her on the head. It shattered and glass cascaded all around her, and she began to laugh. She got the message loud and clear. Laughing at yourself is important.

Mom was funny, even when she was upset about something. I think it was her way of coping with things that bothered her. She did love to laugh and she thought we were hilarious sometimes. She liked to sing too. I don’t think many people knew that about her. You would catch her humming something or singing while she was busy. But I don’t remember her ever joining the church choir or anything like that. I don’t think she thought she could sing, but she could. I remember her telling me that when she was a little girl, she somehow discovered that if she would sing into the gas tank on the car, it had this incredible echoing sound like you were singing into a microphone on a big stage. So, she did that one day with her father’s car. They soon found her passed out, apparently from inhaling too many of the fumes. That may have stunted her desire for the spotlight.

She was a lot like her own mother too. She grew up staying busy, being faithful and knowing that you contributed to the household. That is how she raised us as well. We all had chores to do, but we never took care of as many things as she did. Her mom was straightforward. She told you exactly how it was and how it was going to be. Mom was kind of the same way, but maybe not as direct. Maybe I just looked past it. She went to church pretty regularly and for a few years, she and dad were the leaders of our youth group. She volunteered for lots of things at the church. That was another thing she believed in contributing to; your community. She didn’t do huge things because she was not in it for the glory, but the gratification. She mostly did the small things that people didn’t usually think about. Cleaning the bathrooms at the church. Washing dishes at the fire hall. Collecting donations door to door.

She was a strong woman, but she had her weaknesses. She battled cancer three times, but a moth flying around her could bring her to tears. She called them “cattlebats”. It took me forever to figure out why she called them that. I think I asked her once and she just said that’s what they are. But, I think it was just her way of saying “candle bats”, which would make more sense. Her reaction to one did not make sense, though. One time there was a cattlebat flying around in the car and she broke the door handle off trying to get out. You always knew where there was one around. She was the first to spot it and then she would yell “Cattlebat!!” That meant, drop whatever you were doing and save her. We are all so grateful that she didn’t like the smell of moth balls, or they would have been everywhere in our house. I don’t remember her being scared of much more, though. Cattlebats was enough.

I am sure we were hard on her at times, but she remained dedicated to us. She loved all of us equally, which meant that we were all her favorite. I just happen to know I was her favoritest favorite. Don’t tell my brothers. I’m not sure they could handle the truth at this point. Her favorite color was yellow. Her favorite flowers were irises and roses. I grow both and think of her often when they bloom. I remember the hillside at the bottom of our yard when we were growing up, being filled with irises. We also had a triangle shaped bed of them by the back door. We never grew roses, but my grandmother had several in her yard. On Mother’s Day weekend, we would have visited and they would have walked around the yard, looking at all of grandmaw’s flowers. Grandmaw would give us cuttings of things. Not much survived, but we did have some Rose Of Sharon trees that she started for us and I am sure that’s where the irises first came from. I also have Rose Of Sharon in our garden today. So much of what we have, I know mom would love to walk around and look at and talk about.
My mother-in-law will be over for dinner this afternoon. We will walk around and look at all of the flowers, shrubs and bushes and anything else that is in bloom or growing right now. If she sees a weed she will pull it. I could use the help. I take in those moments. They make me feel even more at home. I am blessed to have had such a great mom. I am blessed to have a great mother-in-law too. No matter how old you get, you always need your mom. No matter how old she gets, I think she always needs to be a mom too.

My yellow irises. We never had yellow ones growing up. I think most of ours were blue and pink, but these make me think of mom. I took this a couple of days ago. Today there is just one bloom left. I think she was holding out for Mother’s Day.

Our yellow roses. My grandmaw had a yellow rose bush behind her garage. It was not out where you could really see it with the rest of her flowers, but she enjoyed it just the same.

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The Appalachian Tale

Memories, recipes, and Tales of an Appalachian Boy.

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