Monday, May 15, 2017

always mothers day

Yesterday was Mothers Day and I’d meant to chat about but in the early morning woke preoccupied and blogged the anxiety dream that was still menacing me. Memories though 

When I was a boy, mama’s birthday on May 7th often meant that with limited cash I combined her birthday present and mothers day gift. My mother was born May 7, 1912, a hundred five years ago last Sunday. She died early the rainy Sunday morning July 17, 2011, two months and ten days after turning 99. I was 75 but no matter how old we are when they die, mothers are not replaceable in one's heart. A main thing is to try and make sure you don’t die first and leave her with that anguish.

I remember, some of which I’ve blogged before.

The evening of Labor Day 1941, mama called me into the dining room, where she asked, “Bubba, you’re starting school tomorrow. What do you want them to call you?” Surprised, I remember saying, “Not Bubba. How about Tom?” Mama said, “No, it can’t be Tom. When we were in high school I had a boyfriend named Tom, and your daddy still hates him.” So, for ages six through seventeen, grades one through twelve, I resigned to being called Carroll, which my father was called all his life. I did not like it, never accepted it as who I was, Carroll was my father and we had lifelong a strained relationship even though I think we both tried. And for me, a shy, reserved boy, being Carroll was always like Johnnie Cash’s song “A Boy Named Sue.” Looking back, I know it affected my personality, as peculiar names can do to a child. As for that first Tom, going through mama's pictures and things after she died, we came across a long ago nineteen-twenties photo of a cute teenage girl and tall, handsome boy, marked on the back, "Tom 17 and Louise 16." Understanding for more reasons than I can say, I guess mama just couldn't bear to let go of that one last memory. An aunt told me Tom was brokenhearted when she chose Carroll.

Growing up, I was the mixer when mama made the candy and fruitcakes for Christmas every year. Sometimes the fruitcake was dry, but it was ours, we had made it, and I ate it. They were not a "big seller" in the household and we only made fruitcakes a couple of seasons. The candy though: begun before Thanksgiving and an enormous quantity to last through Christmas, the candy was scrumptious -- incomparable sugary chocolate fudge with pecans, date roll, pecan roll, divinity, and one we called english toffee that was so wonderful it melted in the mouth, had a soft, buttery crunch ... and I got to lick either the spoon or the bowl, sometimes both. After I went away to college, I suppose Gina or Walt mixed, I don't know.

When I was at Bay High, we had two cars, and it was nearly always possible for me to tease mama out of her car, the station wagon, to drive myself to school my junior and senior years. I had a regular parking place, the dirt lot behind the band building that today is named for Orin Whitley. 

I parked right outside the drum practice room, which had a back outside door opening onto that parking lot. When I was a senior I fixed myself up with a light schedule that had me in "study hall" for last period. For band members, study hall was not in the auditorium with the peons, but in our band practice rooms, and with my practice room having a back door to my car, I may be long gone by the time the dismissal bell rang.

Mothers can be nosy, and mama sometimes did not mind her own beeswax not only by looking at girls' names written all over the inside of my textbooks when I was in high school and thereby knowing which girl I had a crush on, but trying to do something to help the relationship along. Not good: when mama tried to get involved, my crush evaporated as instantly as my next breath of air and I no longer had the least interest in that girl. 

Mama always made the corsages for Linda the years we went to the Christmas Ball and the Spring Prom.

During World War 2 when food items were severely rationed, there was a new product in a jar, for spreading on bread to make sandwiches. My mother made my lunches when I was at Cove School, and this spread was the most god-awful nasty tasting filthy stuff I ever put in my mouth until a quarter-century later when my ship was in Hong Kong and in a restaurant I ordered tripe with creamed onion. Once at school, when kids were trading lunches, I traded sandwiches with Philip, and instantly bit into his delicious sandwich to render it non-returnable. When Philip bit into mine, he chewed, a horrible look came over his face, and he demanded "gimme my sandwich back." I showed him that I'd already taken bites out of his, and said nope, too late. As a boy I'd never, never ever do or say anything that I thought might hurt mama's feelings: when that jar of sandwich spread was empty I thought thank god, but mama asked if I'd liked it and thinking not to hurt her feelings I said yes, and she bought another jar.    

Although I do remember several harsh moments, including a teaspoon of castor oil when I was most extremely naughty, and a slap in the face once for saying "damn," and the Christmas our parents colluded and mama sewed a Santa hat and Christmas morning they horrified us by having the Santa hat lying there on the fireplace hearth and my father saying, "I almost got him this time, he won't ever come here again." 

September 1953, the Sunday near my eighteenth birthday, my mother and father drove me to Gainesville in that same Plymouth station wagon and dropped me off at North Hall, the freshman "men's" dorm to begin the rest of my life. In my first college class that week, the professor taking the roster called Thomas Weller and I answered Present and finally got my real name, as I learned in German class, Wie heißen Sie? Ich heiße Tom. In a letter to me the end of that first college week, my father wrote that my mother had cried all the way home, and that he hoped I would write her often. Which I did. There were four of us from Bay High in the same section of North Hall that year and mama sent us whole freshly homemade poundcakes about once a month. I didn't understand about her grief and weeping until I left Tass at her college in Virginia thirty-seven years later, up to then the most painfully desolating experience of my life, and made me understand, know, and appreciate mama more than ever.

My mother was always on my side, took up for me all my growing up years including one time that I've told before, severely chastising history teacher Bill Weeks at Parents' Night my freshman year. Mr. Weeks, favorite along with Mr. Whitley, never forgot that scolding my four years at Bay High. 

One of several personal reasons that I insisted on leaving Pennsylvania and relocating to Trinity, Apalachicola the summer of 1984 was so I could look after my parents in their final years, as my brother and sister lived out of state far away. And I did try faithfully to look after my mother kindly and lovingly the eighteen years she lived after my father died. 

Last week every year, there are essays in the media about mothers. Here’s a link to one I especially appreciated

We had an extraordinary day at Holy Nativity yesterday morning. Ten-thirty was children’s Sunday in lots of ways. Children’s choir singing. Honoring high school graduates, including Ryan 

who started with me at Grace Church spring 2000 when he was not quite up to my knees and then with me as a star reader at St.Thomas Church when he was five to ten, and then Holy Nativity, and now he’s taller than I am and graduating to a life of his own. Ryan was my boy all his growing up years.

Young people as lectors and gospeller and assisting with Communion. About two dozen children gathered round the Altar for the eucharistic consecration, including wiggling fingers at the ἐπίκλησις to call down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine. 

Standing a little farther back than I was, Scott took pictures with my iPhone, and because we were still so close, the lens width only got a few of the kids, but it was all spectacular. The church was jammed and my sympathies to anyone who missed it. 

DThos+ moving along through +Time+

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