I wish that I could say that my mother had loved me. If she had, I’d tell you about the times she held me in her lap and hugged, so tight, all while crooning soothing words. I would share the story about when she ran behind my two-wheel bike, holding on to the seat, while I peddled, trying to stay upright. There’d be stories about long walks in the woods behind our house and working together in the garden.
In the winter, after a good snowstorm, she would have thrown snowballs, built an igloo, and gone sledding down Mrs. Brademeyer’s hill. In the summer, she would have taken the hose and squirted water all over me, until my hair drooped like seaweed. And then she’d give me a towel and a root beer Popsicle.
Maybe when I brought home my report cards she’d checked them over carefully, and then congratulated me on good effort. And when I was promoted to the next grade, she would have given me a little gift to show how proud she was.
Or there would have been fun-filled shopping trips in which we squeezed into the same dressing room and tried on clothes, laughing hysterically. Afterwards we would go out to lunch at a restaurant and eat way too much food. If there was time, we’d go to the movie theater, buy popcorn, and cry all through the love story happening on the screen.
When I played on my high school basketball team, my mother would have attended every game. When I played well, she would have clapped, demurely, of course. And when I didn’t get to play in a huge tournament, my mother would have walked right up to the coach and chewed her out. I can picture her doing that.
She would have followed my bowling team when I played for the junior college, and gone to my badminton matches as well. She would have carried my gym bag and handed me a towel when sweat dripped into my eyes. I bet she watched with her fingers crossed, hoping for a strike whenever I released the ball sending it skidding down the alley.
And when I was severely trounced in my first college badminton tournament, my mother would have pulled a crumpled tissue out of her purse and then would have had the good grace to look away in my moment of humiliation. When I was done feeling sorry for myself, my mother would have offered words of encouragement and then sent me back into the gym to face my next opponent.
Maybe I’d tell about her coming to my high school graduation, and how she got there early enough to sit right up front. Close enough that I saw her smile with pride as I crossed the stage. When the principal announced that I had won a state scholarship, she would have stood and applauded louder and longer than anyone. When we got back home, there would have been a beautifully wrapped present waiting on the dining room table. Something she thought I’d need for college.
For my college graduation? She would have flown down to Los Angeles a week early and helped me pick out a new dress to wear. We would have seen a movie to take off my nervous edge. And on the day of the ceremony, she would have taken me to a beauty shop for a special treatment. When I entered wearing my cap and gown, tears would have poured down her face, soaking her cotton dress.
When I moved back home, I’m sure that she would have invited over all the relatives to share in my accomplishments. What a party that would have been! Laughter, games, gifts, congratulations.
There would be stories about trying to teach me how to cook. We could laugh about my “raw” pancakes and the meatloaf that fell into crumbs when sliced. I’m sure she would have laughed when my first cake didn’t rise as well as over the biscuits that were charred on the bottom. On the other hand, her face would have lit up when I mastered the infamous green bean casserole and when that green Jell-O mold jiggled, like it was supposed to, when dumped on the serving tray.
I can imagine her smiling when I brought my husband-to-be home for introductions. She would have immediately fallen in love with him and been happy for me. She would have shared in my joy, knowing that, at last, I was stepping into adulthood. That should have made her proud.
It would be nice to speak of the times we shared recipes or of the Tupperware parties that we went to and bought way too many of those wonderful plastic containers. There would have been birthday parties and anniversaries to celebrate with good food, friends, and lots of laughter.
Yes, I can visualize all of these things. It’s too bad that absolutely none of them ever happened.
She doesn’t sound like a woman who was really capable of loving. It’s miraculous that you developed into such a loving caring person yourself.