Today marks my second Mother’s Day since my mom died. Last year, I was still in a bit of a fog, but this year I totally recognize the loss. Instead of being sad and morose, however, I have decided to focus on all the great things that made Patricia Ann Gordon a fabulous mother.
1. She had a fantastic sense of humor.
My mom was funny. Hysterically funny. And she didn’t hold back. To the point that she told the worst jokes ever because she would laugh so hard halfway through she could never get the punchline out.
2. She was a goofball of the first order.
She had a wonderful sense of the ridiculous. One year when I was about 14, she tried a new recipe for Apple Brown Betty. And it turned out awful. I mean, we all gallantly tried to eat it, but it was impossible. About 5 minutes in to trying to gag this concoction down, she slams her fork down, looks at the rest of us, and says, “this is disgusting!” We are all so relieved we didn’t have to keep trying to choke it down, we didn’t pay much attention to what she was doing. She stood up, pushed her chair back, walked over to the stove, rifled around until she found the recipe card containing the disaster, and then ordered us all to come to her.
Not entirely sure what my mom was doing (she was really capable of anything at this point), we timidly went along. She ordered us to hold hands. We did. She ordered us to dance around in a circle. We did. She jumps into the middle of the circle, rips the recipe card in half, and then jumps back, then orders us to to hold hands and dance around in the circle again. This went on a few more times, with her jumping in and out to rip the card in smaller and smaller pieces. Eventually, someone (not me!) asked, “what are we doing?” and my mother calmly said, “we are having a recipe destruction ceremony” as if that totally explained things. Which I guess it did, because when the ceremony was over, we cleaned up the kitchen and went about our regular routines, as if this was a completely normal occurrence.
3. She was ahead of her time.
I was 16 when my mother called me into her room, sat me down on her bed, and presented me with her treasured copy of The Joy of Sex. But she didn’t just give me the book and walk away. She talked to me about sex. Not just a birds and bees discussion either. She told me sex was wonderful if it’s done right. And if it’s not being done right, smack him on the head and tell him to do it right. To never use sex as a punishment or a weapon, as there’s always another mailbox on another corner. Communication is as important in a sexual relationship as it is in any other kind of relationship. To be adventurous, to be smart, and to protect myself.
She talked for quite awhile and covered a lot of ground. I may have blocked some of it out because I was horrified that all the naked women in the pictures in The Joy of Sex were rocking a 70s vibe with hair sprouting well beyond an acceptable bikini line trim and OH MY GOD WHY DO THEY HAVE HAIRY ARMPITS??
Hey Mom! The good news is I did eventually figure out the importance of a well done bj.
4. She wasn’t a suck up.
When I was 14, my algebra teacher called home to complain that I talked a lot in his classroom. Most parents would have apologized profusely, proclaimed they were going to have a serious talk with me about my behavior and I would be punished accordingly. Whether or not they would have done so, who knows? But most parents would have at least made the attempt to appease the teacher.
Not my mom. She said, “Mr. Leinberger, I have been trying to get her to shut up for 14 years. If you can do it, more power to you. But I have better things to worry about.”
And then she hung up. On him. Turned to me, smiled, and winked. And that was the last she ever said about it.
5. She embraced her inner loser.
Mom was never afraid to admit when she screwed up. She celebrated that she was the annual recipient of the worst bowler, the worst card player, and the worst dancer/gardener/pinochle player (or whatever else she did that year). She treasured those toilet trophies. And in doing so taught me that it is totally okay to make mistakes or not be very good at something, without fear or shame. It’s been one of the best lessons she taught me.
I could go on for days about all the things that made my mom awesome. But I think this actually sums it up the best:
On Friday I was with Quinn while he got some minor surgery done on his foot. After it was over, he was so relieved he started acting really goofy. I commented on his behavior and he announced loudly and proudly, “I know I’m a goof. I got it from Grandma!”
Love you Mom. I hope they have martinis wherever you are.