I grew up watching Mom sing in church and other venues. I remember so vividly singing April Showers with her and two other little girls at a mother-daughter church banquet. I was 7. We crossed the stage in a line behind Mom, all of us in yellow dresses like little chicks following their mother, twirling colorful parasols. Mom made my dress to match hers.
Because she performed, I performed, and we performed together. She was always there, in the audience, for my piano recitals. Mom made my recital dresses and cut them off so I could wear them to the church. One Christmas, the doll that Santa brought me was wearing the same dress I had for Christmas. How did he do that?
My mom supported me in my childhood activities – Brownies, Girl Scouts, cooking, piano playing, and singing. She was my advocate and intervened with Dad when she was certain that she knew what was best for me…a baby chicken, a kitten, a dress, a hairdo…and Dad conceded. How could he not? Mom could be a quiet force. She quietly encouraged me without ever nagging or being critical. The few times she may have tried to steer me were more suggestions than directives, “You may want to wear a slip with that dress,” which was translated from her real thoughts, “Arghhh, you can see right through that! My little girl! No!”
She was there when I was to be married at 20 and did everything possible to make my day special. She gave me a wedding shower, and I gave her a magazine picture of the dress I wanted. She had it made precisely – right down to the little seed pearls sewn into the skirt – by a Hispanic woman in a little shop in downtown Los Angeles near where we worked at Mobile Oil. I was so impressed. I loved her so much and knew how much she loved me.
Our mom’s own story epitomizes bravery and persistence and inspires hope and love. Her life’s challenges neither elicited a bitter complaint nor a whisper of surrender or blame. She just loved us and kept moving forward. By example, she taught me how to be a mom.
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