MOM WAS RIGHT

My mother was not a regular kind of mom. This confused me a lot while I was growing up. Other mothers made cookies, kissed boo-boos. Hung out with the other mothers in summertime. Swapped recipes. Watched soap operas.

July 1963

My mother didn’t bake anything, much less cookies. She was a terrible cook because she hated it. She was an unenthusiastic housekeeper and the whole “huggy kissy” mothering thing eluded her. She didn’t watch soap operas, loved the Marx Brothers and MGM musicals. She never graduated high school She read voraciously and constantly. Especially about science and space. She was fascinated by quarks, black holes, and antimatter.

She never kissed a boo-boo; I don’t remember her kissing me at all. She wasn’t that kind of mom.

Mom-May1944

She had no interest in gossip, recipes, or cute stories about anyone’s kids. She wanted to talk about politics or the space program and which nations were so hopeless they needed a complete redo, from scorched earth up (she had a list). I think if she were still alive, she’d probably add the U.S. to her list.

She enjoyed talking to me about being young when FDR became president. How, when the National Recovery Act was passed, there was a spontaneous parade in New York that lasted 24 hours. Ticker tape and all. How the government had surplus crops during the worst years of the depression, and government agents took the extra food, dumped it in vacant lots and put poison on it so no one could eat it. Even though people were starving.

I thought she was just paranoid, but recent events have made me change that opinion.

She didn’t trust government, was sure they were spying on us. Positive J. Edgar Hoover was out to get us. He had a long list — and we were on it. She was in favor of equal rights for everyone, everywhere. Pro-abortion, birth control, gay marriage, putting wheat germ in everything (yuk) and natural medicine when no one seemed to have heard of it. She wanted all religion out of schools and government.

She was in favor of the death penalty. She felt there were people who should be taken out and shot. No long terms in prison (too expensive). No decades of appeals. One well-placed bullet in the brain and justice would be served.

That was my mom.

She gave me Knut Hamsen to read and a grand piano for my 14th birthday as well as appropriately anatomical books about sex. She figured I needed accurate information so I could make informed decisions.

She hummed most of the time, sang the rest of the time. She got the words wrong all the time. She read me poetry when I was small and treated me like an adult. She was a grimly determined atheist and would eagerly debunk any hint of religious belief should I be foolish enough to express them. But she made sure my brother had his Bar Mitzvah and never ate pork. Tradition.

She was the most cynical person I’ve known. I was always sure she was wrong, that people were better than that. I can’t even imagine what she would say about the way the world is turning out. I expect she would feel vindicated because on some level, this is exactly what she expected. She did not believe in the goodness of human beings or that god would step in to rescue us. With all my heart, I wanted her to be wrong.

So here I am. Nearly as old as my mother was when she left this earth. I think my mother would like this version of me. I think she always liked me, possibly more than I liked myself. It just took me a long time to “get” her.

I’m very glad she isn’t here to see how the world has changed.

31 thoughts on “MOM WAS RIGHT

  1. My mother and yours would have gotten along famously! My mother lived until 2010; she was 96 years old. In about 2005, she began to tell me that she hated this century; and then that she hated this (2000-2010) decade, never being quite specific about why. I can imagine the two of them having strong conversations about the state of the government or the world!

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  2. My mother bought me an LP (you remember…a proper vinyl record…) for my 13th birthday, called the New First Family 1968: A Futuristic Fairy Tale . It was a spoof on the US election process in which Cary Grant was elected as President and Hollywood took over the White House. At the time, she hoped it was far-fetched….

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    • I always wanted to be wrong and I’m still waiting to discover I am. I’m not as dedicated to my opinions as my mother was. But then again, I hadn’t survived two world wars, Korea and Vietnam, either.

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  3. She sounds like she definitely followed her own path and certainly was no pushover. I can see how that must have presented a host of problems as a child. A strong and independent woman- unusual for those times

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    • It was sometimes difficult. My mother had VERY strong opinions and they weren’t prejudices. They were real, thoughtful opinions based on personal knowledge and considerable reading. It was difficult to argue with her. It’s probably one of the reasons I’m such a tough arguer myself. I learned from the Queen.

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  4. A mom who nurtured the intellect and reasoning, even if she didn’t do the huggy-kissy thing, A fine mom in my book. My mother was very bright, but very silly, and only intent on passing on class prejudices.

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  5. Over the years I have collected many pictures of old trucks (in particular) living out their last days amid fields of flowers, trees, shrubbery. Someone couldn’t part with it or it’s memories and captured it in photos to share and I’m so glad they did. I’m completely delighted every time I find such a photograph. So I’m always delighted when I witness yours. Love these and I’m with you, I add history (when I don’t know it) and attach memories and feelings as though it were a real living breathing thing. Perhaps it is.

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  6. Your mom and my mom were so much alike. I don’t think my mother ever told me she loved me, yet I know instinctively, that she did. She gave me a strong sense of social justice.
    Leslie

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