A Mom’s Love and Encouragement Distilled in B & W
Yesterday I opened my Facebook page to a photograph of my Mom, circa 1958 or 1959. It’s a black and white photo, but surprisingly vivid. I have a copy of the same photo somewhere but this one was posted by an old neighbor, George Thibault. Mom is standing in the street with my brother Phil, Mary Thibault and Michelle LeBroque. They’re just little kids, perhaps ages three through six. There’s a sleeve of paper cups in Mom’s hand. It is obviously a summer day. All the kids are squinting slightly in the bright street. Which makes me think Lemonade or Kool Aid stand. It was the kind of thing that happened on a regular basis in our neighborhood. The photo brought me right back. Instant nostalgia. It was such a delight to see it on my Facebook page.
The night before I had been working on a narrative about Mom that I started writing a year ago. It’s part of a collection of writings I have about my family and childhood, some funny some poignant, the best ones a little bit of both. This collection is waiting on my little hot pink plastic zip drive to become something–a memoir. Everything needs to be expanded upon, organized and woven together into a cohesive story that will capture the where, when and who of my life. The who appears to be the key to this story.
I was lucky enough to grow up surrounded by a large, eclectic and slightly zany family. It’s been my greatest life blessing and the older I grow, the more I realize this. My house was the place my friends came to escape the boredom and sameness of their own homes. My family was the one that provided entertainment value for the neighborhood. My kitchen was the place to be for a little coffee, a cigarette, and a good dose of comedy. My home was a color photo in the days of black and white.
My Dad was the neighborhood character. My Mom was the neighborhood saint and second Mom. My brothers were the neighborhood Marx brothers movie. My sister and I were the girls next door.
Of course we all had our rough times, our crises preceded by our lapses of judgement, our fights, our moments of petty arguments and exchanges of hurtful words. We were not a perfect family by any measure.
Except for Mom. It’s pretty much unanimous within my family and with everyone who knew her that Mom was as good as it gets. She was smart, funny, loving, hard-working and loyal. And she was humble. She had no clue how much she ruled.
When it comes to human dignity, she is the woman I aspire to be like and always fall short. I’ve pretty much given up on trying to be her and just try to be myself now. I know that since I am her daughter and that because she raised me to the best of her ability, there is also a good measure of her inside of me. She is the me that is patient, kind, understanding and forgiving. She shines when I am unselfish and self-effacing. She is the best of me and it’s her spirit that encourages my empathy, my sense of gratitude, and my creative spirit. I will never be as humble as Mom, but any humility I do have came from her. Like I said–She ruled.
So it was pretty awesome yesterday to see her there on Facebook. And to see the old hood, the way it was about the time I came into the world. If I had to give awards for my favorite FB post, that one would win hands down. Was it coincidental that it popped up the day after I sat here remembering her, writing about her, missing her? Perhaps. Or maybe it was good karma. She was always my biggest cheerleader in any creative endeavour I undertook. She was artistic and creative herself, but had little opportunity to indulge herself that way. So maybe it was just her doing what she always did–encouraging me–“Keep writing. It’s good. It’s worthwhile. And as long as it honors the family, it’s okay with me.” Which is just what I needed to hear yesterday.
Thanks Mom. I’ll keep writing. Oh, and Thanks George for the Post.