From Family

When Mother Knows Best


The first time you hold that tiny, helpless baby in your arms, you realize you are their entire world. They look to you for love, protection and nurturing. To them, you are their everything, an all knowing supreme being.

From this exalted position, there is only one way to go.


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I was no different, of course, and by the time I was 21, I was desperate to escape my parents’ house and their “ignorance”. My mom was happy to see me go and even gave me a going away present when I got my first apartment.


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As I adjusted to my new life as a young adult, I started to realize my mom might know some things I didn’t.


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There was no internet back then and finding information took some work. Mom was always home and had instant answers, kind of like Google is today.

Although Mom’s rating was gradually rising, it got a big bump up when I became engaged. I had waited until June to go shopping for a dress for my early August wedding and found the selection at the mall picked over. I found an off white “maxi” dress that was too short, but since it was on sale for $19, I bought two, thinking I could lengthen one with material from the other.

It was a delusional fiasco.


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After years of languishing at the bottom of the ratings, Mom was back in action. She was at the top of her game with authoritative answers, plausible solutions and decisive plans of action.

I stopped pretending that I didn’t need her.


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In those early years of starting my own family I turned to her constantly. As the years passed, I grew confident in my own knowledge and no longer needed her for domestic consultations.

Before I knew it, our roles had reversed.


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I still thought of Mom as the matriarch of the family. I looked to her for knowledge, though now it was about family history and what I needed to know before she and the memories and stories in her head were gone forever.


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I liked knowing there was someone, generationally, “above me”. Maybe you never quit seeing your mom as that All Knowing Supreme Being who is more interested in you than anyone else on earth.

It can be a hard thing to let go.

Mom died surrounded by her three daughters on March 31, 2009. I held her hand until she was gone. It wasn’t until I was trying to discuss arrangements with Dad that the loss hit me.


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I still miss Mom, but have embraced being the “above me” person to my own children. They’re smarter that I ever was and have the internet, so my role is mostly ceremonial.

One day, I climbed into my daughter’s couch pit with my grandson under my arm. In that moment, I was struck by where I was in the generational cycle and blurted out my thoughts.


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I regretted bringing it up. She doesn’t need to think about it now and I’m hoping to keep the torch lit and waiting for a long time.

Hope you all have warm memories of your moms today. Happy Mother’s Day!


Mom and Me 2


Quicksand and other Childhood Threats

On a recent winter day with warmer temps thawing the ice and snow, I took my grandson out to play. As we passed through a puddle on the sidewalk, I pretended that I was stuck and needed his help to pull me out.


Quicksand Row 1

Quicksand Row 2


As I rummaged in the grass for a larger stick, a childhood memory from long ago came flooding back.


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From there, full blown panic and hysteria set in. Our worst childhood fear had been triggered: QUICKSAND!


TV Westerns were extremely popular in the 1950s, much like legal, hospital and police dramas are today. At their peak in 1959, 26 Westerns were airing during prime time on only 3 networks. There was at least one playing every night and usually more.


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Quicksand was a central theme in many Westerns, along with gun shootouts, Indian scalpings (this was before cultural sensitivity was appreciated) and rattlesnakes. Quicksand was the perfect suspense building plot device and always played out in the same way.


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Denita and I didn’t view 6 shooters, Indians or rattlesnakes as imminent threats, but believed quicksand could appear anywhere, including the ditch in front of our house.


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Over 50 years later, Denita and I still remember how terrified we were the day I got “stuck” in the ditch.


I had other childhood fears besides quicksand.


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What do children worry about today? I hope my grandson doesn’t blow as much of his childhood on baseless fears as I did.


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Superstitions, Rituals and Bargains with God: Part 1 of 2

Superstitions Row 1


Years of sun damage have finally caught up to me and I never seem to make it out of the dermatologist’s office without some bad news.


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Superstitions Row 3


Using the lucky mug to influence my fortunes¬†is just one of many superstitions and rituals I’ve adopted on and off since I was a child.


When we were growing up, my sisters and I were convinced our family was cursed and attributed all childhood misfortune to it.


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After I was married, I marveled at how extraordinarily lucky (my now ex-) husband was. No matter how illegal, crazy or careless his actions,


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Most of us aren’t so lucky. For those of us born without “the lucky horseshoe”, there are superstitions, rituals and bargains with God. I started early.


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As my childhood passed, lucky talismans and superstitions came and went.


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When I was 13, I struck my first bargain with God.


We were invited up to a neighbor’s lake cabin for a day of swimming and boating. I couldn’t wait to try water skiing, but as the day approached I became worried and nervous. My sole athletic accomplishment to date had been passing Beginner Swimming at the local pool.


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As we drove home that night, I knew it was time to make the first payment of the 25,550 (approximate) lifetime rosaries promised. I started praying… and promptly fell asleep.


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I made a good effort the first week, but fell asleep every time I started praying. I told myself I’d say two rosaries a day to make up for the missed payments. I eventually re-negotiated the entire deal, telling God that giving up TV for Lent that year covered Lent plus the rosary obligation. It was delusional, but I didn’t think it was a good idea to leave a contract WITH GOD hanging without resolution. (That’s just the solid kind of businesswoman I am.)


Tomorrow: Adulthood Size Superstitions, Rituals and Bargains with God


Superstitions, Rituals and Bargains with God: Part 2 of 2

I didn’t attempt another bargain with God until 1980. At that point, I was married with a 17 month old and a newborn. I had been a light smoker for a couple of years, yet couldn’t seem to shake the habit despite having tried a number of times.


While I was pregnant, I experienced numbness down my right arm.


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I froze.


I had two babies to take care of. My mother, grandmother and cousin all had M.S. I feared I would spend motherhood in a wheelchair or bedridden. I made a deal with God on the spot.


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I was jubilant! And I never, ever, smoked another cigarette.


Years later, my daughter and I took up horseback riding. As in other sports, superstition was common and widespread. I had my own unique superstitions and rituals.


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Others’ superstitions around the barn were accepted and respected. We were one big happy neurotic family.


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It is noteworthy that our superstitions themselves were 100% within our control, convenient and…. cheap.


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Scientists say a low sense of control creates a high need for superstition. This explains why even a great like Michael Jordan wore his lucky North Carolina training shorts under his Bulls uniform during every game of his career.


John Elway, the famous Denver Broncos quarterback, sat in the same seat on team flights, drove in the same lane on the way to the airport and engaged in many other rituals and superstitions. Finally, tired of managing them all, Elway decided the only superstition he would have would be to have no superstitions at all.


After I finish organizing my coffee mugs, I’m going to give that some thought.


Superstitions Row 18