When I was a kid, first learning about the Civil War in school, my mom dropped a bombshell on me. “Your grandmother worked for Abraham Lincoln,” she told me, suggesting that I ask her what it was like working for the President. I was astounded. I may not have known the term “primary source” at that age, or for that matter had any concept of time whatsoever, but I sure wanted to know what the White House was like.
So, at my mother’s urging, I asked my grandma for her own recollections of the time. And that went about as well as you would expect it to when you ask a woman to personally recall a time period over 120 years prior to the current date. What I remember most though was being disappointed that I wasn’t going to hear a firsthand account. I imagine I was probably excited when I asked, only to have that enthusiasm fade very, very quickly.
* * *
Of course, for having been so willing to age my grandma by quite a bit, my mom wasn’t so eager to age herself. I was taught as a child that if anyone asked me how old she was, I was to say 28 and leave it at that. We practiced.
“How old am I?” she asked.
“28 and leave it at that!” I dutifully replied, a little smartass in the making.
I have since learned how time works.
* * *
I suppose I was a gullible child. I mean, my mom did have me referring to her as “Beautiful Mommie Dearest” for quite some time during my youth.
We would be at the grocery store, and if I asked if we could get some cookies, I had a much better chance of those cookies ending up in the cart if I phrased the question, “Can we get some cookies please, beautiful mommie dearest?” I have no idea what other people thought when they heard me, or my sister, or my childhood best friend referring to my mom as such, but the experience taught me two important things about my mother:
- My mom has a twisted sense of humor.
- My mom can be a very, very patient woman.
I didn’t learn who the Mommie Dearest was until I was in college, at least ten years after the idea had first popped into my mom’s head to have us call her that. I came home one weekend, absolutely boggling at the revelation.
“Mom, do you know who Joan Crawford was?” I asked, rather naively. And my mother, who had waited a decade, finally got to see the look of abject horror cross my face as I realized that yes, my mom did know all about Mommie Dearest.
Once I saw the humor in it, my mom reached legendary status in my eyes.
* * *
I’ve inherited that quirky, twisted sense of humor, something that I’ve always been grateful for. I’d like to believe I’m slightly less gullible these days, but if there’s anyone who can get me going for a while, it’s my mom.
A few years ago, while maintaining an old blog of mine, I suggested to my mom that she start blogging. Eventually she decided to, and now she keeps her own blog going as she researches our family history. (It’s sadly lacking in stories of my grandmother working for the Great Emancipator, however.) Her blog has well outlasted my previous one, and the other day, as I was rambling on about how I was getting ready to play fantasy soccer for the first time, and my criteria for choosing the players who will be on my team when the season starts, my mom said, “You should really blog about that.”
And so I will, now that I’ve started a new blog.
Also, today is my mom’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!
She’s 28, and we’ll just leave it at that.