|Mom and Dad, 1956|
I initially posted this last Mother's Day as a tribute to my mother. I would like to wish all the mother's out there a beautiful Mother's Day.
My mother was a compulsive/obsessive list maker whose house was IMMACULATE. People would come into our house and, upon seeing their reflection in the varnished hardwood floors would marvel and always comment ... "My God! Your floors are so shineeeeeee!"
She took great pride in her home. It was spotless and, as my husband once said, if she could have placed a velvet rope from the kitchen to the living room she would have ... because no one was allowed to "live" in the living room.
Being raised in a home that was kept like a museum was not always easy. My bedroom was a little girl's dream ... beautifully decorated and perfectly kept. Everything was in its place, spotlessly clean and picture perfect. I remember how uncomfortable my little girlfriends felt when they came to visit me. If we were in my room sitting on the bed and my mother happened to open the door they would immediately jump up and begin straightening out the bedspread because they knew my mother was really particular about things like that. It always embarrassed me.
My mom lived according to a schedule and was always trying to beat the clock. She rose at 3:30 a.m., YES, you read correctly ... 3:30 a.m., every morning ... to clean. This fact of rising early every morning you would learn within the first 15 minutes of meeting my mother ... because she'd tell you.
Stranger: "Nice to meet you Debbie's mom."
Mom: "I get up at 3:30 every morning" she would state matter of fact.
Always astonished, people would ask WHY do you get up so early? She would respond ... "If I don't do it who else will?" I mean someones gotta get up at 3:30 every morning, right? I used to tell her all the time that she should have been a farmer.
All of our appliances looked brand spanking new. That's because she cleaned them religiously. She buffed and scrubbed, washed and shined, the stove and all it's inner workings. The washer and dryer, same thing. Sparkling clean. Her windows were washed four times a year. ALL OF THEM, inside and out. Gleaming. The walls were washed with a scrub brush and Spic 'n Span. Add to this that my mother was a heavy smoker but our house NEVER, EVER smelled of cigarette. That is because the minute you were done smoking your cigarette the ashtray was immediately picked up, emptied, washed, dried, and placed back in its proper place.
She had very specific ways of cleaning. I once used the wrong broom to sweep the kitchen floor and she yelled at me "NOOOOOOO! Not that broom! That's the one I used to sweep outdoors and then I soak it in bleach!!!!!" She scared the shit outta me! JEEZ, how the hell was I supposed to know that I was using the outdoor broom that got soaked in bleach?! To dust the pleated lampshades she would take a small painter's brush and carefully, methodically sweep each pleat. This same brush was used to dust her little monitos (chochkies or knick-knacks) ... little figurines that you couldn't always clean because they were small and had tiny crevices.
My mother's kitchen cabinets were a beautiful sight. After I'd been married many years and I'd visit her I would love to open the cupboards and run my hands across them and admire, in amazement, their cleanliness. My cabinets are another topic altogether. You'd have to use a small amount of force to pry a glass loose from my gross, sticky cabinets.
Her refrigerator ... SPOTLESS. Never would you find a mayonnaise jar with mayonnaise all gunked up around the rim. EVER.
She had a quick mind. Very smart, though not formally educated, and she was VERY organized. She could have run a corporation easily with her attention to detail and efficiency. She was really amazing that way.
Growing up, I'm certain she hoped that I'd turn out just like her but I didn't. I didn't want to spend my entire life cleaning. I wasn't as organized as she was and I have always been a terrible procrastinator. This is not a good trait to have if you want to run an efficient household. Once, when I was a teenager I sarcastically asked her WHY I had to make my bed if I was only going to mess it up again when I went to bed. Her response? "Why do you wipe your ass if you're only gonna shit again." That was my mom. She could be funny and sarcastic and impossible and thoughtful, and I miss her every single day.
I used to call her from work almost every day and when she answered the phone I would always say ... HI MARMEE! Just like the daughters in "Little Women." She would always laugh when I called her that.
There are so many things I miss about her but what I miss the most is going shopping with her and having lunch after. My sister once remarked that shopping with mom was like shopping with a mouse on crack. She was always in a hurry. For a long while, after she'd passed away and I would see other mothers and daughters shopping I would get a huge lump in my throat because I knew that I would never, EVER, be able to go shopping with my mother again. Death is so heartbreakingly final. I will never, EVER, stop missing her.
I miss you so much mommy. I love you with all my heart and I always will ... till forever and forever ...