Sunday, May 8, 2011

Red or White?

I had not planned to write a Mother's Day post. But when I called to order a corsage for my mom to wear to church on Mother's Day, the simple significance of Barbara Carter's question sealed the deal.

The question: Red or White?

I realized when I was commenting on Julianna Baggott's "Happy Birthday" blog post to her mother, that this seed of a post had to sprout.

My comment was this:

Very eloquent and simultaneously comical post. When the florist asked me yesterday (about my mother's Mother's Day corsage) "red or white?" I thought, what a perfect blog post title (southern tradition dictates you wear a white flower if your mother is deceased and red if she is still alive). I am glad I would still be eligible for red.

In her homage to her mother, Julianna writes that her mother gave her the greatest gift a mother can give a writer daughter, permission to write about her. I don't know if my mom has given me that gift. I suppose this post is more of a way of wresting the act of writing about her directly out of her hands whether she is ready to give it or not. I do know I hurt her to the core with the scathing analysis of our family that I wrote in my college family relations course and left out in a public area after letting a friend read it. I really thought I knew a lot about how our family had been shaped back then. Now that I am raising my own family, I think I just need to steer my kids away from family relations courses requiring papers that rely on self-disclosure. Engineering would be safer and more lucrative anyway.

For my mom, I had to order a white orchid. Vila, her mother and my grandmother, passed away years ago. When I think about my mother's stories of insisting she follow her older sister to kindergarten, even though she was only four (rules were much more relaxed back then), of how she loved her "with the girls" lifestyle in Lake City before she married my dad, I think I can detect the independent streak that I inherited. It may have driven Grandma Vila a little nuts.

Me? If I were wearing a Mother's Day corsage, it would be red, since my mom is still living. One of the things that troublesome paper touched upon had to do with me being an only child. When I find myself too wrapped up in one of my children's projects, friendships, or hobbies, I often wonder what it was like for my mom to have all of the offspring "eggs in one basket" (my father has two sons from a previous marriage). I remember her following behind me when I was running around the neighborhood as a high school runner, worried about some cramping I had been having. It drove me nuts. Running was then and still is about freedom, not being weighed down by a tan Chrysler station wagon 10 yards behind me going 3 miles per hour. She, on the other hand, didn't want me to end up face down on the pavement or the shoulder of the road, overtaken by some horrible runner's malady.

Although she hasn't given me permission to write about her, and I rarely do, today is the day to be thankful that I still qualify for "red." My friend Audrey used to send her mom Evie flowers on her (Audrey's) birthday, on the premise that Evie deserved to celebrate the accomplishment of giving birth (and raising a child) as much as Audrey deserved to have her milestone commemorated. I think Audrey had it right.

In conclusion,  here's to a mom who has me seeing "red" on Mother's Day.


Morela said...

Hi Paula,

I'm sad to say that my flower would be white. I am 33 years old and quite independent, but raising two girls without the benefit and honor of her wisdom and knowledge is painful, and at times it feels unfair. I am the youngest of 6 and my children are the only one that never knew her. In fact, she passed away just a month before my first daughter was born. I miss her so much! I was reminiscing today about the morning of Mother's Day when I was a little girl. We would all crowd into my parents bed and wake them up with gifts for my mom. I was the little one so they would give me a gift too so I wouldn't cry. Then breakfast, and church. My mom would always wear new clothes for Mother's Day. All the mothers dressed in florals and pastels. Mother's day is for moms, what Easter is for little girls it seems. After church, we would all have lunch as a family, and sit around telling jokes and just enjoying each others company. Those were good days. Today, I barely got a "Happy Mother's Day," we had lunch with my in-laws, and was left wondering who is going to celebrate me?

Sorry, I guess this comment is kind of a downer. I didn't mean to go on and on. I guess it was lurking in my heart and just had to let it out.


shopannies said...

yes my mother is still here with us but a lady that I also considered my mom spent it in heaven. My husbands mom passed of cancer a few years ago I loved reading your post thank you come see what I shared at

Shelley (EvenAndy) said...

I wore red and my mom wore white too! I miss my grandmother too! I hope that you had a wonderful Mother's Day! I love your blog!

Graceful Lady said...

You captured the bitter sweet tenor of Mother's Day for everyone. Thanks Paula!