Saturday, May 9, 2009

Weekend 3-Way; word to your mother

Like my sister Mary Beth and calendars across the country, I’m conflicted about the proper placement of the apostrophe on the holiday we will celebrate this Sunday. Therefore, I will refer to it as The Day of the Mother. Or Mothers. Or Muthas. Or Mother-you-know-what-ers. ANYWAY, in honor of the Day of the Mother, this 3-way requests that you

Tell us a story about your mother


My cousin Richard died tragically young. It was a sudden, devastating loss to our entire extended gigantic family, who came from near and far to mourn. I was about 10 years old at the time, I’d been to a few funerals for older people who had passed away, but the experience of burying a 20 year old with his whole life ahead of him was shockingly different.

There were a ton of us milling around the big old house, and it was awkward. We cousins were accustomed to gathering for holidays and celebrations, tearing around and raising hell. None of us really knew how to act in this situation.

I remember being in the kitchen, which was full of food. There was a heavy, collective fatigue in the air, the sort of full yet empty feeling that you get when you’re not at all hungry, but that hardly seems like a good enough reason not to eat. Someone had brought a whole, roasted turkey to the house, and it was sitting on the kitchen table. It seemed like a lot of effort to carve it for sandwiches or whatever, so everyone just sort of looked at it. I’ll never forget how my mom walked over to the table, grabbed hold of a drumstick, and yanked it right out of the bird, with bits of skin and juice trailing behind. The room paused… then erupted into laughter. We ate that entire turkey with our bare hands.

The spell was broken. The grief laden atmosphere of the room had fractured into the sounds of laughter, and we delighted in our unconventional snack. My mom likes things done the right way, she always expected good manners and proper decorum from her daughters. But she sure has a knack for knowing the exact time and place to throw all that out the window and break the rules. She can feel the mood in a room, and change it in a heartbeat. Happy Mother’s Mothers’ Day of the Mother, mom!

Nice, Jacquie. I remember that so well, but even if I hadn’t there, you made me feel like I was there.

Mom and Dad travel to where their grandchildren are. Of course they do. Why wouldn’t they? They have 8 of the coolest grandchildren on God’s green earth. In Asheville, Chicago and San Diego. Good places to visit. Some of us around here, though, produced no rugrats for their grandparently enjoyment.

Bill and I bought a little house in Fort Davis, Texas, a few years ago, and were heading out there in early 2008, to actually live in it for a while. Our tenants had recently moved out, we were ready to live outside of the Westy for a bit, after 7 years of living inside it, and we headed west. Before we left I said to Mom, “Well, I know you won’t visit us in Fort Davis, because we don’t have any kids.” Actually, I don’t remember saying that to Mom at all. But Mom remembered. And Mom took it to heart. And convinced Dad – he who has a well-developed and well-documented loathing of all things Texas since he had to go to boot camp there in 1967 – that they should visit us.

And visit us they did. Drove to New York, took a plane to El Paso, then drove 200 miles through the Davis Mountains to get to our house.

And when they did, they turned that one- many-horsed town upside-down. People were clamoring to meet them, invite them over, have a drink with them. We got a free tour of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at the McDonald Observatory – given to us by the director, we watched a full lunar eclipse appear and then “declipse” (a word Mom invented) in one of the darkest regions in America, and we were fêted at a dinner party hosted by one of the loveliest, most charismatic and fascinating couples in Fort Davis. And, when Mom and Dad left Fort Davis, Mom left her legend behind.

I have really got to work that guilt angle more often . . .


My mom loves music, whether at work or play.

She spent over 20 years working for professional symphony orchestras, retiring just this year, in fact, and currently, for pleasure, she is learning how to play her third stringed instrument, the fiddle, having already mastered the guitar (way back in college) and gained competency strumming the mandolin.

She suggested, somewhat jokingly, to my brother that he should name his first born Amanda Lynn if a girl, and Benjamin Joseph (benjo) if a boy. (He did not, if you’re wondering. But you get the idea, she’s semi-obsessed.)

Right now it’s with bluegrass, and I’d like to think that my brother and I had something to do with it, seeing as we took her to see her first Jerry Garcia Band concert, back in the late 1980s. And she loved it (except the part where they would not sell her beer because she did not have ID. Luckily I’d just turned 21).

Her willingness to go to the JGB concert illustrates that in addition to the music itself, my mom loves the live music scene. She especially likes outdoor music festivals, with beer, in the sun. And my mom’s not shy about loving her music, or her musicians.

One Telluride Bluegrass festival some years ago my mom was enjoying whomever was on stage at the time (I cannot recall) when she saw Peter Rowen cruise down the grass aisle right past us. Well she was pretty into Peter Rowen at the time, so into him, in fact, that she jumped up, and raced after him, barefoot (no time for shoes in this sort of situation!) yelling Peter, Peter, Peter! She was damn sure she was going to meet this man, and, of course, she did. She came back some time later, beaming, with a Peter Rowen singed something (I think it was a CD) in hand.

I love this memory of my mother, the spontaneity of the moment, the fact that she is not worried, in the slightest, about singing out loud, or dancing in front of a crowd, or running after her favorite rock bluegrass star. She just is who she is, either go with her and have fun, or sit home and don’t. (I tend to go along most of them time.)

Happy Mom’s Day, Mom! I love you!


Anonymous said...

Beth: that is one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me. And all this time I thought you and Hap were terrified that I would embarrass you. I did ask Hap at his wedding reception (bluegrass style) if he minded if I got up and danced with all the other crazy women and he said "Of course, not Mom, just have fun"..and so I do. Hey at 64 why not?

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Hi Pat!

Beth, I think you're officially off the hook for a Mothers' day present. ;)

Happy Day of the Mamasan to both my co-blogging muthas.