Thinking of Mom on Mother’s Day

1987

My mom with me (I was about six here) and my brother, Kelly “Kel” Morgan. I never lacked for books, as you can see from the stack of Little Golden Books on the nightstand (Rota, Spain, 1987).

What would’ve been my mother’s sixty-fifth birthday passed on the twenty-third of April–a day when we would’ve gone to all the different Firehouse Subs and gotten (or haggled) for her free sandwich (I still remember her precise order and how she would flip her you-know-what if there was cheese on it because “they slop cheese on everything now”), with me buying a brownie or two so we wouldn’t look like greedy a-holes trolling for handouts.

Since then, I’ve been to her marker, now headstone, twice, my grandmother relieved that Ann was included on the stone (all the other military headstones we saw only included the middle initial).  Bernadean (my grandmother) was the only person who ever called my mom by her first and middle name (which is customary in some parts of the South): Betty Ann (as she was named her paternal aunts, Betty Lee and Carmen Ann).

Mom was so sick for so long (her stomach and back always given her trouble), it never occurred to me that she was dying–that all it would take was a slight thing to trigger a chain reaction that her body was defenseless to stave off.

“It still doesn’t seem real,” my dad still says, echoing my thoughts, echoing his previous words.  Isn’t it strange (and perhaps it’s own kind of wonderful) that wonderful things seem more real than terrible ones?

For good things have happened since “Grandma went bye-bye to Heaven” (as my daughter says), never doubting that they were meant to happen.

I wish (two words I find myself thinking more often) that I had more pictures of my mom and me in our later years, but, like the Bible says about a man leaving his father and mother and cleaving unto his wife, well, I guess the same goes for wives.  I became the adult in the family portraits, and my favorite subject to photograph became my daughter (still is).  I became one of those annoying moms I loathed who think everything their kid does is cute. (Okay, maybe not everything, but I love to share what is.)  I will never be a “Caroline Appleby” (Lucy Ricardo’s frenemy from I Love Lucy) about how adorable her “Stevie” is.

My mom wasn’t the type to open up to other women (I am too much the other way), so even though she wasn’t a Caroline Appleby, I always knew how she felt.

I was hesitant about sharing this eulogy I wrote and read at her visitation, but then, what is a eulogy but a type of poem?  I wanted to make this available for the family members who didn’t get to be there due to distance and circumstance, or for those who came later.

The post I published before was about her death–this is about her life, who she was, and still is, in what I think of as a “galaxy far, far away.”

(as read March 12, 2018)

I’ve always said that no one loves you like your mom loves you. I never understood that till I had a child of my own.

I remember when I knew I was going to have a girl, I put Hannah’s ultrasound picture in a book as a surprise. I remember Mom was as excited as if she was going to have the baby herself, and doubly excited that I was going to name her Hannah, for she’d always loved that name.

From that moment on, she started calling her Hannah Banana. Hannah eventually became Hannah B (for Hannah Beth). Mom was always so excited to see her. When Hannah got old enough to understand the concept of Grandma, the feeling was mutual.

But I know my mom loved me, too.

*

It was Mom who made my dad go into the room with me when I had to get a spinal tap for spinal meningitis because she couldn’t bear to see her child in pain.

It was Mom who showed me that a woman could have a career and a family, and still be a good mom. (Cooking skills not required.)

When I lived at home and didn’t come back when expected, it was Mom who would worry and drive around looking for me.

It was Mom who taught me to be observant, so she may have helped me save my own life and I never even knew it.

It was Mom who made my husband promise to take care of me.

It was Mom to whom I always first brought my stories—before they had the credence of publication or awards.

It was Mom who would give me rides every morning to work and pick me up when I didn’t have a car—sometimes when she was sick—because she had faith that I would be successful someday.

It was Mom who taught me how to have a sense of humor, and I understand, in times like these, how important it is to have one. I still laugh when I think of one of her “mom jokes”—funny only because they came from her.

It was Mom who told me that I could always come home, if needed—that there would always be a place for her children.

Mom always made sure her mom was taken care of, and I always figured the day would come when I would have to help take care of her.

I just wish I’d gotten that chance.

*

Just as Mom didn’t know how much I appreciated her—something we so often forget to tell people—I didn’t always know how proud she was of me, but a teacher of mine told me at an event I read at, that she could see how proud she was.

I just hope that Mom knows I’m proud of her, too.

*

Throughout her life, Mom did what the writing experts tell all storytellers to do—to show, and not tell. She did even better than that; she backed up everything she said.

She will be terribly missed, but that only proves how much she meant to all of us. She’s gone, but not lost to us forever.

Almost everything Mom taught me, I would never learn in a classroom, but isn’t that what moms are for? To give you the tools you’ll need for when they are gone?

So, thank you, Mom, for all of that, and everything else.

Seven Reasons Why Brownies Beat Cake (and even Cookies)

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  1. The frou-frou factor.  Give me a blondie brownie any day over a fancy schmancy slice of wedding cake.
  2. Frosting.  Brownies don’t need it.  I, for one, hate cake frosting.  The only exception is a very light smear of coconut pecan on German chocolate.  I never buy a cake from a grocery store, because I end up scraping all the icing off (which is more for décor anyway, and justification for charging an exorbitant amount).  Icing, almost always, overpowers the cake, and is almost always too sweet.  (Nuts also taste better in brownies than they do in cake.  They complement, rather than taste like someone’s baby teeth got baked into it.)
  3. Brownies are more satisfying.  They are denser (I never understood why someone would want to make “cakey” brownies).  One brownie=3 cupcakes (on a satisfaction level, according to Sarah’s Almanac).
  4. You can eat brownies with your fingers.  Cakes have to be in cupcake form to even accomplish this and then you’re stuck with the stupid wrapper.
  5. Brownies last longer (than cakes) and don’t tend to burn on the bottom (like cookies).  Cookies have a much smaller margin for error.
  6. You can cut away the edge of a brownie (unlike a cookie).  I get peevish looks when I’m checking out at Firehouse Subs, foraging for the sought-after center piece.
  7. Brownies are a simple melt-and-pour exercise.  Cookies take longer, because you have to scoop them out and sometimes even shape them.

~

Places that have the best brownies:  Firehouse Subs and Steak n’ Shake (just ask for the brownie by itself).  The brownies are pretty much the only thing Steak n’ Shake doesn’t mess up, and that’s because the brownies come in frozen and aren’t made there.

Cake’s sole redeeming value:  You can substitute unsweetened applesauce for the oil called for in a cake mix.  I never could figure out why my boxed brownie mixes weren’t turning out until I realized brownies must have oil (however, you can substitute canola or vegetable with coconut oil; just be sure to melt it first).

Marriage roles

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It’s funny how an article I read days, or even longer ago, will pop back into my mind when it relates to my life in some way, when it has found its place.

See:  http://simplemarriage.net/know-your-role-live-by-it-and-redefine-it-as-needed/

My husband and I have what we call a traditional marriage in the modern sense–he is the handyman, and the primary breadwinner; I work part-time, feed the baby (solids and liquids, but he helps with the bottle feeding), bathe her, and read to her (he’s read to her on occasion, but he’s not a reader himself), though we are split on household chores.  He does the deeper, once-a-week type cleaning while I take care of the laundry and dishes.  Because he works more outside the home than I do, I not only believe this is fair, but I am happy and comfortable with this arrangement.

We both like to do the grocery shopping, as we both cook (though not lately, because it’s summer, and because he’s been working more and I work in a restaurant).  This is one of my weakest areas because I hate the dirty dishes that come with the territory, so it is something I want to work on.  I want my daughter to see me cooking, and cooking with whole foods (breadmaking will probably be the one thing I’ll never really get in to).  I don’t bother cooking seafood (because it’s so expensive, and I would cry if I had to throw it away), I don’t know how to grill (grilling is my husband’s thing, baking, with the exception of bread, is mine), and my husband is a better fryer (and all around cook) than I am, so I leave that to him.  He’s good with the grease and the outdoors, I’m good with casseroles and the indoors.

As far as the interior decorating goes, my husband loves my taste, and I have the freedom to decorate our home any way I please.  I can make any room look feminine, without looking too frilly.

Anything concerning outside our four walls, including our car, he takes care of.  He pumps the gas, and is always the driver.  I only drive myself when he isn’t with me.

I pay our online bills, and he takes care of any that have to be paid in person.  I am in charge of printing coupons (clipping is so 1990’s) and keeping up with sales and deals, and he does the negotiating.  I stay abreast of the free 8X10 photograph enlargement offers at Walgreens, and I reminded my husband (whose birthday it was today) to get his free birthday sub at Firehouse.

Neither of us, prior to marrying, discussed our marriage roles, though we both knew that whoever made the most money would be the one working, while the other worked part-time or stayed at home.  If, by the time I finish school, I will be making more money, then there will be not so much a role reversal, but a shift.  Whether or not the man should be the breadwinner is the only thing we’re not traditional about.

Like my friend Mandy, I think it’s important to “know our role”, which can sometimes alter or change.  How we determine what our roles are, I think, come down to whatever is best for the family.  It just makes sense that my husband is the picture-hanger, not because I don’t want to do it, but because he’s better at it.  It makes sense that I’m the one who sings to our baby and teaches her new songs, because I sing better than my husband (who I sit next to on my deaf side in church).  That’s not to say we should allow our weaknesses to remain weaknesses, but for now, this works for us.  Meanwhile, I’ll be trying at least one new recipe a week, if I can just stop forgetting to remember that was a New Year’s resolution.