Sunday, May 10, 2009

Week 19, Project 365

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! Especially to my sweet mother-in-law Kathryn, who is shouldering a heavy load caring for dad and doing it with grace and courage. We love you Mom!

Looking at the week's worth of photos last night I saw that old habits die hard. 99% are from walks we've taken around here or in Cordoba. *sigh* I'm going to make a list of possible photo topics and try to be more thoughtful about this process. Otherwise I'll have a bunch of street shots and not much else at the end of the year.

Anyway, here we go...First up is a colorful row of houses in Cordoba. We went in last Sunday for a street fair, and made the happy discovery it's also the area where the antique stores are located ☺ On the same block was some graffiti. We don't see much graffiti here so I had to take a photo of it. The street fair runs every weekend from 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m. May is like November in the U.S. but while it gets cold at night, it usually warms up considerably during the day, so not surprising to see folks in short sleeves or sleeveless shirts. We live just a block from the costanera and there are a number of houses for seasonal rental up and down the road, and also a few hotels. This is, by far, the nicest one. It's also HUGE. This covered walkway connects two large buildings on either side of the road. We haven't been inside yet, but I want to check it out some day. Looks like a pretty fancy walk-way, doesn't it? Even though some trees are turning yellow, even more are staying green. These caught our eyes because the ivy completely covers the trunks. We went to a talk about gardening at the municipality this week and arrived a little early. I snapped this photo from the steps of the municipality building, looking out over a portion of the downtown area. Town spreads far and wide in every direction and it's really quite a good sized city. The population is about the same as Kalamazoo, Michigan. We had to make a trip into town last evening for some art supplies and something called chia at the health food store that's supposed to help lower cholesterol. On each block they have these lovely little brick islands with benches and trees so I made hubby stop and sit on the bench so I could get his picture.
Remembering My Mom
My mom has been gone for over twenty years, dying of cancer at the too-young-age of 56. I’m sorry to say that while growing up I had a pretty adversarial relationship with her and it wasn’t until I had kids of my own that we started getting along better. Because then I finally “got” it. She did the best she could as a single mom with a 6th grade education and no training. She didn’t have a lot of energy left by the time her shift as a waitress/short order cook ended and she had to be really careful to make ends meet. I can’t imagine the kind of stress she was under. It’s hard enough to raise kids when there are two parents!

Time dulls some memories and sharpens others. I prefer to think about the good times, the happier moments with her. I’m not into denial (not much anyway) but I just don’t see the point of dwelling on the negative. Mom may have been impatient, critical and inconsistent but she loved us fiercely and fully.

My mom had a big heart. I honestly can’t remember a single holiday that we didn’t have someone over, someone who didn’t have anyone else. She and the other waitresses at White Way made sure all their regulars without family received invitations for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter...

One area where she had no patience at all was ignorance. I’m not talking lack of education, I’m talking down-to-the-bone ignorance. Bigotry of any kind was simply not tolerated.

My sister and I appreciated that she didn’t compare us or expect us to be the same. She was good at accepting everyone just as they were.

We may not have had much but we shared what we had. Off and on we had various ones living with us “while they got on their feet”...young women from the south and almost always related (don’t even start with the hillbilly family tree jokes).

Mom wasn’t what you’d call domesticated. Despite (or maybe because of) being a short order cook, she didn’t like cooking. The saying “Dinner’s ready when the smoke alarm goes off” was made with her in mind. I used to joke that I learned to cook in self defense.

She couldn’t sew a button on straight and had no desire to learn. Mom would let the house go for weeks and weeks and then decide it had to be cleaned in one day. She’d cook a big hillbilly breakfast at 2 a.m., wake us up and make us eat it and then start cleaning. It would take 12-14 hours but, by golly, she wouldn’t let us stop until it was clean again!

She couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and had no appreciation for any kind of music besides country. I’m pretty sure I can still sing all the words to any Loretta Lynn song. But she wanted us to be different and insisted on piano lessons and being in band at school.

Mom also put her foot down about vocational school. Our high school and vocational school were side-by-side and offered a dual program for juniors and seniors. I had no desire to be a secretary but she enrolled me anyway, saying no way was one of her kids going to have to stand on their feet all day like she’d had to do. Didn’t matter that I planned on going to college. Having a skill was always good “just in case”.

As an adult I can look back and see that our conflicts were mainly the result of us being so much alike (characteristics like stubborn and bull-headed come to mind). I think that if she’d lived, we’d have become good friends. I hope so anyway. The last few years she was alive we lived several states away and didn’t see each other as often as we would have liked, but I’m thankful for the times we did have.

Mom was a typical doting grandmother who was sure her grandkids were smarter, cuter, more whatever than any others. She liked nothing better than taking my son around town to show him off to her friends whenever we’d visit. When my daughter was born she took three weeks off work to come and help. I know my mom loved being a grandma and I’m sad she didn’t live to see my sister’s kids.

She started smoking when she was 11 or 12. The addiction was so powerful that after her first lung biopsy, while still on oxygen, she made her way outside the hospital for a cigarette. She smoked right up until she went into a coma three days before her death.

I don’t remember the last Mother’s Day while she was alive. I hope I conveyed my love and how thankful I was for all the sacrifices she’d made over the years. I hope.


sara said...

omg Kim, that was beautiful!!! thanks so much for sharing about your mom with us!

Isn't interesting the clearer vision we get as we get older...I keep reminding myself that with my son, he will understand some day!

Happy Mother's Day, my friend!!

ps. I think it is also interesting how graffiti is the same no matter where or in what language!!!

Mari said...

That was a really nice tribute to your Mom.
The city is really pretty. I like the seats and the brick islands. The graffiti makes a nice picture too!

Elizabeth said...

I had no idea about your Mom... it is so amazing to me just how little we know about our relatives.
Thanks for sharing and Happy Mother's Day to you!

beckyjomama said...

Great pics - as always, but the picture you created by sharing your memories of your mom ... PRICELESS!

Nise' said...

I love it that you take your camera along on walks. I keep forgetting! Lovely tribute to your mom.

TCKK said...

What a beautiful city!

rita said...

I agree with all of the above, the photos were great but the word pictures surpassed them all! Thanks, dear Kim.
Enjoyed family time up North and your beautiful daughter. (Mike pulled her away from her paper for a short visit with all.)

Christine said...

Your tribute to your mom was beautiful. It reminded me that God can take all things and make them beautiful. Somehow, I'm sure that your mom knew you loved her.

tiffany said...

What a beautiful heartfelt tribute to your Mom, thanks for sharing it with all of us.

Love the graffiti picture, so colorful!