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.