Remembering Mother: Mother Said

Faded old photo taken in Lisbon 1975.

“Root, hog, or die,” Mother said.

This was the mantra of a woman who got her master’s degree by going to graduate school summers and weekends while she raised five kids and taught school, and did household chores without electricity or indoor plumbing. I remember that every time I think I’ve reached the end of my rope.

In hard times, we wore hand-me-downs and homemade clothes. Mother said, “If your hair looks nice and your shoes are polished, that’s all that matters.”

My bad hair day has lasted a lifetime. My shoes look old the second time I wear them. Maybe it’s because my big toes turn up, or maybe it’s because of Mother’s bunions. I inherited her feet along with her sense of humor.

Mother said, “If you’re wearing a smile, nobody notices your clothes.” I’ve relied on that assurance for most of my life, smiling like an ad for toothpaste, but now—it’s criminal what aging does to teeth. When I began losing mine, Mother said, “You have 50-year teeth, just like your father.”

At the bottom of the Great Depression we lived in a small rural community that traveling salesmen always managed to find. Mother swapped whatever she could for whatever she wanted. She swapped eggs and chickens and jewelry that she never wore.

The summer I was 12, Mother and I were on the front porch shelling peas when a car came up our red dirt road and parked in our front yard. A man wearing a straw hat and seersucker suit got out. He was selling subscriptions.

Mother swapped a sapphire ring for The Ladies Home Journal and a ruby ring for The Kansas City Star.

“My children are my jewels,” Mother said, and gave him a smile as bright as the morning sun.

Years later, when I visited her in the hospital after she broke her hip, Mother said, “I suppose you all turned out as well as could be expected. At least none of you was ever in jail.”

Her opinions, warnings and admonishments have stood me in good stead. At the time I would have said they went in one ear and out the other. I would have been wrong. They come back to me in some way almost every day.

My brothers and sisters and I have aged well, all things considered. Our jewel-like luster has dimmed but we’re still at large.

Mother, I think, would be pleased.


About browning26

mystery author, former English teacher, former newspaper reporter, former legal secretary

Posted on May 12, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. Enjoy them while you have them.

  2. Awwwww, Pat — misted me up bigtime. What a loving remembrance of an amazing woman.

  3. i’m sure she’s beaming down with pride at her family now, Thanks for this lovely tribute, Pat. I agree with Tim. Your piece misted me as well. (My mom was very special too.)

    • Hi, Jean: Thanks for stopping by. I know it hasn’t been very long since you lost your daughter. I know you were a very special mother and she was blessed to have you. I’m embarrassed to be so far behind in reviewing your books! I’m working on it — I’m working on it! (Famous last words). (-:

  4. She was indeed an amazing woman. I wish I had half of her drive — or as she would have put it — her “gumption.” Thanks for stopping by, Tim. I just tried to find your interview at “Ashland Mystery” but apparently either it’s too recent or they aren’t giving anything away. (-:

  5. What a charming blog, Pat! Wish I’d had your mom 🙂

  6. Pat, That was both funny and touching, which says a lot for both you and your mother. Thank you so much! Your blog was like a Mother’s Day gift.

  7. Your mother was an outstanding role model to you and to everyone your blog reaches. She should have many stars in her crown.

  8. Yes she would!

  9. Jeanelle V. Lucas

    Pat (Patricia as your Mother would say) – I wish I had been more appreciative of what your Mother was. I think her children have been some of the most successful with life of any family I have ever known. I am glad daily that I was once a part of it.

    • Jeanelle, she could be hell on wheels as you know, but that was part of her strength and, as she liked to call it — gumption. Anything we are or have done can be directly attributed to her will power and determination and belief that she knew best. And by golly, most of the time she did.

      Did you retire? Are you moving back here? Gosh, I wish you would. Since Carolyn died I miss having someone to shoot the breeze with and go to Kentucky Fried Chicken with. lol


  10. Pat, I fell in love with your mother while reading this. I know she and I would have gotten along quite well and I know she is quite proud of the way you turned out, turned up big toes and all.

  11. Hi, Earl:

    Mother would laugh to read your post. I have enough memories of her to fill a book, but especially I remember her laughing. In the photo from Lisbon, she was in her 70s when we made that trip but she was as agile as a mountain goat. Sheesh, I wish I had her back and could do it all over again. Thanks for stopping by, bud!


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