Though I lived at home until I left for college at age 18, and though I was a bona fide mama’s girl until, well, I guess I still am, there are so many things I don’t know about her. Big questions that were left unasked for several reasons.
First, I thought she would live forever (despite the fact that she was diagnosed with a fatal disease in her mid-50s). Second, I was busy with my own life. After all, when you’re in high school and college, you don’t really care about anyone’s life but your own. After graduating from college I was oh-so-busy getting married, having a child, getting divorced, getting married again, working full time, going to graduate school. Busy, busy, busy, and no time to ask Mom questions. Third, Mom was a extremely private person and I’m not sure how many of my questions she would have been comfortable answering. I think Dad would have been a bit more forthright but – you guessed it – I didn’t ask him many questions either.
For the past couple of weeks I have been jotting down questions that I wish I had asked my mother. My siblings might know the answer to some of these questions. Jen knows maybe the most about Mom, perhaps because Mom had more time to devote to her after half her kids were gone.
Anyway, here are a few of the things I wish I had asked my mother while she was still living….
When you first met Dad, did you think he was handsome?
I’m pretty sure I know the answer to that question, because look at this……
Hunk City, right? Who wouldn’t think he was handsome? However, the urban legend surrounding the meeting of my mom and dad is that he spotted her while she was working at Monkey Wards in the shoe department, and immediately began hounding her for a date. And, much like her second-eldest child (that would be me), the more he hounded, the more she was determined to not have a thing to do with him. She eventually gave in, because (must I remind you?)…..
Despite her stubbornness, when she would go home at night, did she think about him and about just how gorgeous he was?
What did you think of Grammie the first time you met her?
On numerous occasions, I have mentioned the kindness, good humor, gentle nature of my paternal grandmother. She was beloved by everyone who met her. I assume that included my mother, who, I know for certain, loved Grammie dearly until the day she went to heaven. But what was it like to meet her and my stern grandfather for the first time? It’s possible she already knew them since they owned a business in Columbus, and it’s a small town. But we all know just how scary it is to meet your potential in-laws for the first time. I wonder what they thought about each other after that first meeting.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I don’t know if girls thought about such things in the early part of the 20th century. Maybe they all assumed that they would be wives and mothers, and there were no other options to consider. But my mom was a very smart woman. So she was probably a very smart girl. I wonder if she ever thought, “Could I be a teacher (or a bookkeeper or a librarian or the owner of a dress store) when I grow up?”
Did you think you were pretty?
She was very pretty, indeed. Beautiful, in fact. I’m emphasizing this in large part because people say I look like her so, you know…. But we all know from personal experience (especially we of the female gender) that sometimes we simply are dissatisfied about the way we look…..
Did you wish your hair was blonder? Darker? Did you think you were too fat? Too skinny? Or did you look at yourself in a mirror and – with a confidence that you frankly didn’t pass on to your daughters – think, “I am really very pretty.”? Which she was.
Who taught you to drive?
This is not world-changing information, but I wonder who taught my mom to drive a car. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, NE, which had a whopping 743 residents in 1930 and has subsequently diminished to somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 residents. She was the youngest of 12 kids and by time she was driving age, most of her siblings were grown and married. Did her dad take her out in some sort of old truck and teach her to drive on the back roads of Boone County? Or did one of her older brothers or sisters teach her to drive? I wonder how old she was. As far as I can remember, she was a good driver. Well, there was that one time when she was giving teen-aged Kris a ride up to school, armed with a roll of blank newspaper which would subsequently be used to make posters for the next day’s pep rally. Go Shamrocks! Unfortunately, as she was backing up the car, the heavy paper roll came out of my hands and jammed onto her accelerator and beneath the brake, causing her to back up at somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 miles an hour only to be stopped by the electric pole into which we ran, resulting in the electricity going out all over the neighborhood. That mishap was certainly not her fault, and let’s just say I was not her favorite child that particular day.
And on that note, I’m going to stop and continue my pondering tomorrow…..