To My Mother by Gwynne Forster
I wonder what kind of woman I would be now if I had had a different mother. I thought about that this morning and thanked God for the one I had for most of my life. I say most of my life, because she was an inspiration even in her death.
I was born a middle child and, somehow, I expected less and got more. More, because even in my independent ways, I paid careful attention to what my mother did and said. Early on, I was impressed that what she did and what she said were totally congruous. She lived the life of a Christian and, from her, I received a legacy of faith, integrity and strong moral values. She believed in the work ethic, and taught us that a person who would not work would be capable of theft and dishonesty, that we should do to the best of our abilities whatever we agreed to do and for whatever we were paid. To her, theft meant more that snatching something and getting away with it; you stole if you accepted pay for something that you didn’t do or didn’t do well.
I’ve often said that I wish I was as nice a person as my mother. And that is true. Although a leader in her church and community, a teacher and school principal, this never seemed to impress her. She loved people and met some of her closest long-time friends at the bus stop and at the supermarket. Some of them hadn’t finished high school, but she said they didn’t have her opportunities and had done well with what they had.. In her late seventies, she took “the old folks” as she called them grocery shopping in her car every Wednesday morning. The neighborhood children loved her, and volunteered to run errands for her. Of course, she rewarded them with goodies that she loved to bake.
Her faith in people surpassed any that I’m likely to have. Well into her seventies, one evening in late autumn when darkness had already set in, Muz, as we called her, drove to the supermarket for something, parked in the parking lot and headed toward the entrance. A young man stopped her and said, “Lady give me those car keys.” She looked at the switch blade knife, then at him, threw her arms around him and said, “Son, don’t you have a mother?” The unfortunate young man, wrung himself out of her clutches and said, “Get away from me, Lady.” “But son,” she persisted, “What you’re doing isn’t right.” He ran. My siblings and I begged her never to do such a thing again, but she said. “He has a mother, and he obviously cares about her.”
If I have talent as a writer, I probably inherited it from my mother. She wrote the first fiction that I ever read. At age seven, I found a short story on her desk or some other place that now escapes me. The title, THE DREGS OF THE CUP, intrigued me, and I read it. I wasn’t sure how she’d react to my having done that, but she asked me what I thought of it, and when I said it was too short, she seemed very pleased. One day, I am going to write a novel suitable for that title.
Muz loved to laugh, and my fondest memories of her are of her laughing. I used to come up with all kinds of antics to make her laugh. It was a lovely, musical sound. I remember distinctly times when I told her one joke after another to keep her laughing. Mind you, the jokes were squeaky clean, or I cleaned them up before I told them. One Saturday when I was about seventeen or eighteen, I went with my church club on a picnic, pitched baseball for a few innings and, the following Monday, I was forced to go for therapy to improve my injured shoulder. In all truth, the very next Saturday, Muz went to the same place on a picnic with the choir to which she belonged, pitched nine innings of softball, won the game and never had one pain. Obviously, that made me the butt of family jokes.
I haven’t mentioned my father, because this is about my mother. But given the chance, I could say some wonderful things about him, including his exquisite singing voice, a little bit of which rubbed off on me. Celebrate Mother's Day 365 days a year!
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