Time has a way of clouding our memories.
Maybe that’s why my favorite childhood memories are funny. Random stories play out in my mind time and again, reminding me of the years that rushed away like water falling down a steep mountain’s jagged face—looking like my tears when mother passed away.
The reminder, I’m only a vapor in the wind. And now when I think about some of the events that gave birth to those memories, I can see why my mother wasn’t always amused with all the colorful joys of motherhood.
I could truthfully say my mother, Josephine, (AKA Jaws-Z) enjoyed being a stay at home mom while my sister and I attended elementary school in NYC. But, sometimes she took her role as a domestic administrator too seriously.
This was a problem for a fairy wannabe (me) between the ages of 5-10.
… Doesn’t she know children don’t need to live in such a perfectly clean house? She should spend more time in the garden. Or swimming. Or hiking. It makes her smile. Makes me smile too …
She didn’t allow herself nearly enough time in her garden.
But I remember it was beautiful. Two rows each of begonias and petunias circling the giant oak trees and then an area with a tangled gorgeous mess of orange tiger lilies, poppies, tulips and other wildflowers next to a 12’ x 12’ area for vegetables. And that’s where we spent priceless moments bonding, laughing … and growing together.
Sure there were days I (innocently) pushed her buttons a few hundred times more than she’d like.
I’d track mud throughout the house after she finished mopping. Or, I’d bring in wounded birds. Or, I’d let my pet turtle Tommy get his daily exercise on my bedroom floor—or on my bed.
Surely, she should have understood beautiful creatures like Tommy needed room to roam.
“Confinement in a ten-gallon tank could drive him crazy,” I’d say.
Nope. She didn’t get it. And my older sister, Janet, wasn’t much help.
“Jo-Jo did it,” was her famous—and true, last words before ‘Mt. Jaw’s’ blew her top.
I knew I’d be in trouble when she started ranting about the mess and raised her voice a few octaves per second. I’d always abandon ship at that point. Whether she found me irresistibly funny or not, the reality of her being the maid, chef, and groundskeeper, sometimes got to her.
She’d start out laughing. Then I’d hear the clickity-clank of her shoes rapping and tapping down the narrow hallway.
And yes, she boomeranged her orange high heel sandals at us! Lucky for me, I was tiny, and impish like my idol, Tink. And very quick on my feet …
Though many years have passed, that’s still one of my favorite stories I love to tell my kids …
“Yeah…We ran. Nanny chased. We ran faster. She yelled. And off came her shoes! My sister and I slid across the polished wood floors (I’d make believe I was a pro ice skater) until we got up enough speed to dive or scramble under our beds! Hahaha!”
Nanny’s famous words—”Wait till your Father gets home.”
But my dad was a softie. And now, I always smile when I think about those great memories. I remember my mother laughed (or cackled) while she chased us.
No need for Zumba classes. My mom’s ‘workout’ burned tons of calories.
I’d give anything to have her chase me like that again … But for now, I’ll always remember holding her hand before she passed away—and how she looked up at me and smiled before she took her last breath.
I miss you, mom.