For the record, the headline is cause for punishment.
One of my Mother’s strict rules was that she always be addressed in the formal in public. Using the word “Mom” demonstrated laziness and poor upbringing.
She was equally perturbed by the words “Momma” and “Mommy,” too.
I’m not really sure why Mother was so pedantic about the use of the formal name for the female parent, but if there was ever doubt that she was serious about it, the old ping-pong paddle lay in wait in the kitchen cabinet to drive home the point.
If you are thinking, “My gosh, this guy’s Mother must have been a tyrant,” you couldn’t be more wrong.
Mother was hilarious, and full of fun. Truly, she was the best. Whether it was the time she killed a six-foot black snake with a toy rake, or the time while lugging two armloads of decorator sample books, she tried to grab hold of her fast food drink by clenching the straw in her teeth, we laughed with our Mother every single day.
She liked to tuck two tissues into her bra when going out, then — while looking down at her bosom — cry out, “Oh, no! I had two when I came in!”
She loved to make her own clothes — usually the loudest fabric, often with a giant flower repeating across the pattern. If that didn’t catch your attention, she seldom left the house without donning her snappy, purple trilby.
Purple was my Mother’s color.
Most of her wardrobe was purple. She collected purple vases and pitchers. Her bedroom was decorated in purple. She once owned a purple Cadillac™, and we buried her in a deep-purple-lined casket.
My Mother is gone now for nearly a decade, but honestly, I know she’s nearby. Proof pops up every Spring.
Memories of my Mother come rushing back every April 11, her birthday. Violets begin poking their heads through the greening grass. My earliest memory of my Mother was holding her hand, and walking through the backyard, tugging the delicate emerald stems until the purple flowers relented under my clutch.
We arranged the tiny blossoms in a petite purple violet vase, and centered them on the white kitchen table, where they remained until withered by time.
Today, I repeat the same routine — only now on her grave.
One time, when I was in college, I completely forgot my Mother’s birthday. I was devastated! I hadn’t purchased a gift. I hadn’t baked a cake. In a panic, I raced home at 4 a.m., and found an all night bakery in Indianapolis. Only four stale éclairs remained in the case.
I raced home with them, snuck into the house, and staged the treats on her breakfast plate.
I returned to school, and to a 6 a.m. phone call. Mother was laughing through glorious tears. For the next 31 years, we have éclairs on April 11.
I’m eating one now. Happy birthday, Mother!
I have been known as a Momma’s Boy my entire life. In fact, I was middle-aged when I first realized that being called a Momma’s Boy is not necessarily flattering.
Maybe that’s because in our house I was always a “Mother’s Boy”.
John O. Marlowe is a reporter, sports writer and award-winning columnist for The Paper.