Renewing Mercies…A Little Each Day

Starting over from scratch…sorta

It’s Time to Put On Makeup, It’s Time to Light the Lights


There are moments when you just know you’re becoming your mother and instead of infuriating you because you might have foolishly promised yourself you’d NEVER blah, blah, blah…you feel the twinge of someday…

(Before you read any further, please note…no one is dying or sick or demented)

One morning two weeks ago, I started to whistle the theme to The Muppet Show.  I don’t recall ever hearing her sing, other than Happy Birthday.  Not that she has a bad voice, she’s sung in the car, in church, etc., but just randomly breaking out into song? Nope, not Marie…and funny, me and both of my brothers will break out in song…and make up new words.  Surely she has some oddball children.  In any event, here I was in my kitchen, whistling her song.  The one I so often heard her whistle away while she was in the kitchen or whatever.  It got me thinking about all the things that I know, and Steven knows that maybe no one else does.

Her birthday was last month, and I wasn’t able to be there.  In fact, I haven’t been home in six years.  I’ve seen her once or twice a year and talk to her most weekdays, it’s a little Terms of Endearment, morning coffee together, or shakes.  Whenever she comes it’s always a whirlwind of activity, even if all I’d really like to do is hang out and watch the Food Network and cook or imagine what a room look like “if we moved this here” or painted “this color”.

Of course when I see her now, Grammarie is visiting, and my husband’s mother-in-law, and it’s not quite the same.  Everyone now knows Marie Stalling.  That’s like Mom 2.0, but not the original Mom, and it’s certainly not the original Marie.

My mom is the hottest mom of all the friends we’ve ever had.  I’m at a loss to think of any friend we’ve ever had that had a mom who was even in the same league.  She was possibly the hottest mom to ever live in Alton, NH.  She is artistic.  Everyone knows she’s a great photographer, but that’s just what she does now.  She used to do scrimshaw, tiny etchings of ships on ever so slightly less tiny discs of ivory; until she found out how ivory was “harvested” and then she swore off it.  She also used to paint with oil paints on jars.  Cork topped jars and canisters with bright, red strawberries, snow white strawberry blossoms and feathery green leaves scattered on newspaper to dry and not to touch.  She tried to teach me how to crochet when I was 8…I gave up, I’ve never tried again…I wonder if it was because she crocheted right handed and I needed to learn left or vice versa.  She used to make me barrettes with thin ribbon braided through them with dangling strands of ribbons to match my dresses.

She’s always worked…even when she wasn’t employed.  She did the bookkeeping for my grandfather’s business out by the pool while we swam.  She doesn’t like to get her face wet when she goes swimming, she is not the person who taught me or my brother to swim, although once she jumped in to rescue us, while we were playing “baby shark”and she thought we were drowning.  She waitressed for a very long time…at Friendly’s when she was pregnant with me and then again when we were in elementary school in New Hampshire.  Tanglewoods, Trefz, FSG, AON…sometimes multiple jobs at once.

She homeschooled us before anyone did that…you know except the crazy people on communes.  She got arrested for truancy (that may not be a fact) and had to prove we were learning anything.  She did this because the public school that we had been in had middle schoolers that couldn’t read…and I had been reading Charlotte’s Web in 1st Grade and spent most of 2nd grade hanging out in SPED because I was 2 grades ahead of the class I was in.  Homeschooling involved going grocery shopping, hikes behind the Fire Station and along the Letter S Road, making charcoal rubbings in old small town cemeteries learning the fates of people in the town hundreds of years before.

We waited for what seemed like hours on Christmas mornings for her to be showered and dressed with makeup and hair done to finally get a glimpse of the Christmas tree and all our presents.  She made me an ice cream cake from scratch for my 8th (or maybe 10th) birthday because we didn’t have a Carvel in Alton, NH and there was no other way to get an ice cream cake then.  She put her mascara on by leaning in close to the mirror and hooking her right thigh over the sink and had a clear Maybelline lipstick in a blue and white striped tube.  She wore suntan, Leggs pantyhose under her jeans and sometimes to bed because she was cold most of the time there…of course we were terribly poor, so there may not have been any heat in the house.

We had government cheese and food stamps and powdered milk…she watered down the milk to make it last and the church friends that we had that were on WIC and gave us their extras.  At times we were excessively poor.

She made homemade playdough and added extracts to it so it smelled deceptively good.

Something happened to the end of my post, perhaps I thought up the end and never typed it, we may never know.  Suffice it to say, my mom rocks.  She’s been adopted by many an “orphan” and we all love her, but I love her more than anyone (except maybe Steven, it’s a toss up).

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