Saturday, May 9, 2015

Portrait of my mother: a list

Mother in her teens

--She was the sixth child of ten

--She played soccer as well as the boys

--She could juggle three oranges

--She wanted to go on to be a teacher, but her father couldn’t afford to send her on for teacher training, so she became a domestic. (Only the brothers got trained for employment).

--Once she rode her bike home smoking pastel, lady cigarettes

--She could beat anyone arm wrestling.

--She played softball.

--She was named after the first twin, who died: Geert

--She fixed our bikes, sewed and knitted.  She taught me how to knit when I was a Seagull in Primary. I refused to learn how to sew.

--When I was a teenager, she refereed for church girl’s softball games

--Dinner was on the table every night when my dad got home from work, except for Wednesdays, when she worked in Primary.  That night we got Dee’s Hamburgers.

--She belonged to the Book of the Month Club and subscribed to the Saturday Evening Post and the Lady’s Home Journal. She was a reader and wrote better English than my father.

--She rode the bus downtown, and didn’t learn how to drive a car until she was 54. It was she, who washed the car on Saturdays.

--She made us practice our church talks until they were memorized.

--She laid out my father’s clothes for him.  She also bought his clothes.

--I once asked her if she told her mother things the way I told her, and she said, “Heavens, no!”

--She thought Americans were liars with their easy, fake compliments

--She was the consummate manager.

--She did not suffer fools gladly

--If she sent me to the store for a cabbage, I came home with a head of lettuce; if she sent me to the store for lettuce, I came home with a cabbage.

--She was moody.

--She made us nap in the summers and sent us to bed early, even when our friends were still playing outside.

--She kept treats for Daddy’s lunch in her sock drawer.

--We began with an allowance of 25 cents.  She paid us two dimes and five pennies so we could pay three cents tithing. We also got a dime for “a treat” that was not tithed.

--She used Veto deodorant and Halo shampoo

--She kept to her household schedule: Monday washing, Tuesday ironing, etc.

--She talked to my aunts on the phone

--She had rheumatic fever when I was ten and was supposed to stay in bed for three weeks, but on Fridays she got up and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors on hands and knees and told me not to tell Daddy.

--Function over beauty every time.

--In the fifties she lost a lot of weight with Dr. Waters, who basically sold amphetamines.

--She never learned to set her own hair, and preferred permanents.

--She could cut you down with “Puh.”

--She washed the sidewalks on her knees in front of the house until she discovered the garden hose.

--She was shy and introverted.

--She had a great laugh.

--She hated calling on the phone and made my sister Janie do it for her. (I hate calling on the phone as well).

--I have no idea what she believed other than my father. Maybe that was enough.


  1. What a nice thing to read the night before Mother's Day. I'm off to make a mom list of my own.

  2. This is just so, so great. Thank you for introducing me to your mother, Louise.

  3. She sounds like such an interesting person - I really enjoyed reading this.

  4. Your list inspired me to blog again. Thanks for this introduction to your Mother.