Mar 11, 2010

Wallpaper Hair


I came across this old photo the other day and it made me stop and think of a few things. This is where I grew up. My childhood home in Austin, Texas. That was my dad's red Volkswagen Beetle (I thought he was so cool) and my mom's station wagon. This photo was taken about 1971 0r 1972, I think.


My bedroom is the window you see on the second story on the left. The house was built in 1963, the year I was born. I was in Texas last week because my mom wasn't doing well and I went by my old house, which looks a little different now. That little tree on the right is so large, you can't even see the front of the house any longer. There is now a carport on the right of the house and later, when I was older, Dad put burglar bars up on the house because that was the "in" thing to do for security. Never mind that we lived way north of Austin, in the suburbs where they still delivered milk, had a book mobile that came every Thursday, and we kids would disappear on summer mornings from 7AM until dinner without a peep from us all day with no worries from either parent because we were "somewhere running around" and since no one was heard crying in the neighborhood, then all must be well. And yet, the burglar bars went up, because that is what you did in the late 1970's in the suburbs. They kept the fear factor down supposedly.


But my mother lived most of her daily life in fear. She had normal fears like any mother. Afraid her kids would get hurt (and we did). Afraid of losing her job (she didn't). Afraid of what the "neighbors would think" if her kids would act up in public (we did). Afraid of gaining weight, so she smoked and ate cheese (she gained weight and smoked anyway). Afraid of diseases so she always commanded us kids to wash our hands before we did anything, after we did anything, and if we even thought of doing anything, we must wash our hands. 






I just love this quintessential 1970's photo of a mom and 2 daughters. Mother smoking with her cocktail on a swing (probably feeling pretty good by now) and the two daughters (me on the left my sis on right not too happy). Mom in her maxi dress, me in my bell bottom pants and sis in her little matching jacket and skirt. I can tell by mom's expression that she isn't listening to a darn word we are saying and is enjoying her smoke. :-)




You know how the saying goes it's "always the mother's fault'? Well, I can honestly say that my fear of amusement park rides definitely comes from my mother. If you can picture it: 1969, I am 5 years old, going on 6. 









To this day, I am deathly afraid of amusement park rides - thanks to my mother. I mean, I am not just "sort of scared" scared or "no I can't ride because I will get queasy" scared, or "I don't like heights" scared, no I am "I would rather slash my wrist wide open and pull out my own vein with my teeth and chomp on it like a piece of cherry licorice than ride on a ride" scared. Seriously. And I give credit to my dear mother.

It all started out so innocently and so suburban and yet ended up like a really badly written 1969 horror film written by a five year-old. It was back before there were any real shopping malls, but rather the old strip malls that had real parking lots that were designed for just cars, not Olive Gardens, not Red Lobsters,Chic Filets, or Joe Crab Shacks. Only cars were in the giant parking lots except for once a year when the cheesy little make-shift carnival would come into town. I loved those little carnivals. Cotton candy, popcorn, giant spiral suckers, and long plastic tubes filled with pure colored sugar. What genius came up with that one? A giant, plastic tube of sugar. I don't know which was crazier, the tube of sugar or the fact that the parents actually paid the fifteen cents and gave it to their children. The carnival music played loudly and clown machine was blowing up balloons for a nickel. 




I was a skinny little kid and being only five, my options for rides was pretty limited. I rode the merry-go-round which didn't seem too exciting after the first time around. And the ferris wheel was really fun, but I wanted something more. My mother, on the other hand, lived her entire life in fear. Not just on the mini carnival grounds in the Capital Plaza parking lot, but she lived life in fear every day, every where. Maybe her fearful way of life was my ticket out of Texas. Maybe her fear inspired my fearlessness. I have never met a daughter who hadn't at least once say, "I don't want to be like my mom." I can assure you I have said it more than once.

But that day at the carnival, as a five year old, there I was looking up at the grand of all rides that was just perfect for me, a scrawny little girl, who had big dreams and hopes. It was the closest I would ever come to flying. I squinted out the sun and heard all the squeals of delight. I saw of the glitter. All the sparkles. Yes! This was the rides of all rides. I watched and watched. The beautiful swings twirled faster and faster over me as the little feet flew over my head and I could see the chains holding the seats way out over my head. It was like a beautiful music box. The center of the ride was all mirrors framed in pink and gold with shiny rhinestones. The ride even had a fancy name, it was called "The Swingers"! I clasped my hands together as I watched all the mirrors, the sparkles, the gold, the pink, the feet flying over my head as the music got l louder and the yelling and cheering from its riders. I was just mesmerized. Yes! This would be the ride of all rides! I stood and imagined how it would feel to have the wind blow through my scraggly long hair that I just knew that somehow it would look glowing and beautiful in the wind as it whipped behind me so elegantly. I just knew my destiny awaited me....I couldn't take my eyes off of my ride.



I looked for an image on google and found this. I couldn't believe how close it was to my memory of the actual ride. The only difference is that my ride had huge mirrors in the center where you see murals painted on this ride and mine had more rhinestones. But a pretty close match!


I reached up for my mother's hand and pulled on it, never taking my eyes off my future. "Mom! I want to ride on The Swingers!" My mother turned very serious and squatted down next to my ear and began to point my so ever special ride and piece by piece she picked apart my vision of beauty with her own gruesome tale. She began to tell me how she once knew a girl, when she was growing up, just like me, a little girl, who was riding one of those "swing things" and how "those cheap chains just snap right off" and how the swing went smashing right into the mirror and how she cut her face "into pieces" and was "scarred for life" and that "there's no way in hell" that she was going to let one of her kids "go head first into a damn mirror" on her watch. Then she just stood up and told me to stay put while she went to get a hot dog and then patted me on my head and calmly walked off. Her whole little tale took all of one minute. 

As I stood there watching in horror and as my five year-old imagination grew and grew, my heart began to beat faster. Suddenly all the chains on the swings looked weak and I stepped back. I didn't want to be under them. The squeals of delight suddenly sounded like screams of terror. The music didn't seem jolly, but menacing. The pretty pink wasn't pink any more, but more of a bloody red. What was wrong with those kids? Don't they know they are at death's door? 

Photo by Ishmaelo on Flickr


I couldn't take my eyes off the mirrors. Any moment, some kid was going to be hurled "head first" into one of them. A part of me didn't want to see it and a part of me didn't want to  miss it either. The swings seemed to be going faster than I remembered. I looked around the park and suddenly the ferris wheel looked unstable. Is it really secure? The benches seem to rock too much. I was too little for the roller coaster, but I panicked because my brother was in line for it. I whipped around and suddenly the giant slide with the potato sacks seemed to be leaning and my sister was at the top, waving down at me and I yelled for her to get off. This whole place was a death trap. What sort of parent would take their kids to a place like this?



My mother returns and has no clue that her daughter is a nervous wreck. She is munching on a hot dog and what else is she carrying? A giant, plastic tube of sugar. She hands me the tube of sugar. Yeah, just the thing that will calm me down. A giant tube of sugar. I follow behind her in silence, glancing up all around me as I open up the tube of sugar. Mom sees a neighbor and begins to chat as I suck on the tube of sugar and go watch the clown machine blow up balloons and soon all is back to normal. If you call "normal" a death camp of a mini carnival in a strip mall parking lot and a plastic tube of sugar. Welcome to 1969. And welcome many future dental visits. 


But while it was my mother's fear of carnival rides that not only kept her off them that also kept me off them (for life) it was her fear of driving that I credit to my love of interior design. Yes, it was her fear of the highway that I believe gave me my start of what I would like to believe either my love of homes or my love of being a "peeping Tom."


Every Saturday, after doing our "chores" mom would load us kids up into her station wagon where we would have free reign over the seats (why in the world would we wear seat belts when there was a third seat in the back we could climb in and out of?) and on our way we would go via old vintage neighborhoods just to avoid the highway. She hated driving the highway. Never mind that back in 1969, 1970, and 1971 there were barely any cars on the "highway" in north Austin, Texas, but lucky for me, mom wanted no part of it. She would drive to Hancock Center and take the back roads and I would press my nose up against the window and stare and stare at all the "city homes" as I called them. I just loved the idea that one could "just walk out of your house and down the street to a store!" Little did I know that my growing up in the suburbs would be the only time I would ever live in the suburbs and that one day, I would be living over my very own store. I was just fascinated by the idea that a house could be so close to so much having lived in a neighborhood in which a book mobile had to stop by once a week and not a grocery store in sight for several more years to come. I had no idea that I was falling in love with "city living." I was also falling in love with old homes, old porches, big windows, chandeliers that I could see through the windows and constantly yelling, "Slow DOWN, ,mom!" when I was sure I saw I new piece of furniture or new wall paper from the week before.








I began my "design work" so early on. At age four I began moving furniture around in my room and painted my room a different color every summer. I remember painting it lavender, yellow, pink, green, blue, white, pink again, mint, lime, but....never beige or brown! :-)  I love this photo for several reasons. First, just for the 1970's of it. The headscarf, the glasses. The smokes, laundry, and the wallpaper! I put up that wallpaper with mom. I was about nine or ten and stayed up until two in the morning doing it. To the left of mom is a giant freezer and mom couldn't get up there. I was a skinny kid and she squeezed me up there and pushed me behind the washer and dryer to stick the wallpaper on. It was the sticky stuff that if you let it, it would stick to your hair, arms, anything!! We wasted a lot of paper that night, but laughed as I had to pull it off my hair. Mom finally went and got a shower cap, thinking it would save my hair (and wallpaper) and so I wore it while I sat on top of the freezer and stuck the paper up behind it. As time went on, the moisture from the dryer eventually shrunk the wallpaper little by little, bit by bit. Stupid wallpaper.




My mom was never accused of being overly maternal. Having four of us running around the house and one older one in Vietnam, she probably was tired of being a mom and just wanted to get it over with. Or maybe since her oldest son, a brother I never knew, died in a car accident at the age of 14, she was afraid of getting too close to her future children for fear of the great loss and the pain should something tragic ever happen again. I don't know. She never opened up about it. Back then, there were no Dr. Phil's or Oprah's where one talked so openly about things as they do today. 




Mom with Mark (right) and Duane (left) who died at age 14. I never met Duane, he died before I was born.

But in those days, people just kept going, like they do today, of course, but I think they did it differently. Not really in a good way, but just the only way they knew how. Mom for the most part, looking back, seemed to live a life of reaction and "wait and see." As I grew older, she and I didn't see eye to eye on much. We were so different in a lot of ways. I wasn't a "wait and see" person. I am proactive and not wanting to wait for reaction. But I think it was her fear and having lived with her fear may have given me my fearlessness. Not that I don't have fear, I certainly do. But when I look back at all that I have done, I didn't let fear paralyze me or let fear of failure keep me from trying. For that, I can thank mom for learning about fear and how it can keep you from living life fully.

As you may have guessed by now, my mother didn't make it last week and she passed away. I was putting off saying it in this post. I guess I wanted to remember the fun stuff before I had to actually type it out. She was 84 and lived a long life. She had Alchzeimers the last few years of her life and I didn't have much of a real relationship with her the last two years. Dad passed away in 1996 and I know they are together. 

I did get my love of travel from her though. She seemed happiest when she was traveling. And she liked to dress up, even though she didn't do it often. She didn't like herself very much as far as her looks were concerned, but when she dressed up, she felt better. I like the photo below even though she is bent over, her outfit, I bet she probably loved, even though I wasn't born yet, I am guessing she liked her hat.



Mom with Mark (oldest) Andrew and Louisa. I am probably on the way or will be in a month or so....maybe it was the outfit that got me started? ;-)


It is funny when looking back at old photos which photos touch you the most. It isn't the formal photos or the ones where you look the best. Mom would probably be so surprised which ones I like the most. Below are a couple of my favorites:


I love the above photo of her tanning at a hotel on vacation. She smoking, by the cars, towel in hair, watching us kids, no doubt, and probably wondering where Dad is...because she doesn't want to be stuck with these "damn kids all afternoon..." and is ready to go out to dinner....hahaha




She was never without her headscarf no matter where or what age.




Here I am with mom and dad on the Rhein River in Germany - they are both so happy.


Okay, I found this photo and remember that mom took it. I like it because I remember her telling us to smile and we didn't want to. I was about 11 and Louisa is about 13. I wanted to wear make-up and mom said, "No" and that I didn't need it. I argued that I wanted to be "pretty" and mom said, "You already are." I remember telling her that she had to say that because she was my mom. And now when I see the photo....mothers are always right. What 11 year-olds aren't pretty? How I sigh for the days when I didn't need make-up!  






















I wanted these two photos to be the last photos. First, I think mom felt pretty in this photo. She is sitting in her living room chair with her pearls that dad gave her. She looks all bright-eyed and must be going to some dinner or event. And the photo of my father from WWII was taken in Rome, Italy. I think he looks so handsome and this is the man that my mother fell in love with. Sometimes, it is so easy to forget that parents were once young and handsome or pretty and crazy and funny - especially when they get older or fatter, or frail and forgetful. Dad looks so young and strong here. And mom looks elegant. And they were. 

You know how mothers have that one "thing" they pick at with their daughters, no matter how old the daughters get? We all go through it. It could be our weight, or our cooking, or our fashion "sense" or the way we keep our house...you name it, we all have something our mothers are too quick to point out about us. With me, it was  my hair. She never liked my hair. When I was little, it was always too "stringy" or too "limp" or I should comb it more. When I tried to curl it, it was "a waste of time" and when I combed it straight it looked "lifeless."

As I got older, and married, I could be gone for months and walk through the door and before a hug, before a "hello" she would have some comment about my hair. Always, every time. As a young adult it would just grate on my nerves and eat me up. Why in the world would she say such things to a grown woman? I never understood it. As I got older, I just learned to let it go and expect it when I would visit her.

As she got much older and as I got older, I was surprised that the comments became a little more hateful. There weren't a lot of them, usually only one per visit, but it always puzzled me. When I cut my hair really short and got the messy style that I wear today, well, you can only imagine - her comments actually became funny to me in her old age. She would say things like, "Don't they sell combs in St. Louis?" Or once I remember her saying, "Is your carpal tunnel so bad you can't brush your hair anymore?" I would just sigh and shake my head and change the subject, but actually found it amazing that my hair was such a fascinating subject to her, but also sad.

The last time I saw her, she didn't know who I was. In fact, she didn't know who I was the last few visits. I was sitting there visting with her, wishing I could reach her just once again, but I knew I couldn't. As my visit was ending, she suddenly turned to my sister, but was pointing at me. She pointed at me and said to my sister, "She could be so pretty if only she would brush her hair." Her comment was music to my ears! She remembered who I was for a moment! Never in my life did I ever think that her insulting my hair would be something I would love to hear just one more time. My mom then turned and looked at me straight in the eyes and I think for just a moment she knew who I was; she studied my face for a second, and said, "Yes, you could be so pretty with nicer hair." And I just laughed and told her I would think about it. That was the last time I spoke to her. 

Me, my hair and mom. Who would have thought that such a silly thing would be our connection. And to think mom coverered it up with a shower cap so long ago to protect it from sticky wall paper. I think she really cared about it after all.

You will be missed mom, in ways you will never understand, but that is okay because I love you.

Love,
Bit


36 comments:

Junk Evolution said...

So sorry to hear about your loss. It's never easy, even when we think we can handle it. Looks like you have a trunk load of good memories to celebrate her life with.
You will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Hugs,
Char

debbie said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss, may your memories carry you thru this difficult time.

The French Bear said...

It is a hard thing to say goodbye to our Mom, brings in floods of memories...... I am so glad you shared your story and had enough pictures to share, I have only a few so I cherish them. Great post!!!
Hugs,
Margaret B

*The Beautiful Life* said...

Oh Elizabeth.... I will email you...

I'm blown away...

And I love your hair, dear. :)

~Ruth

sweetpea said...

Bless you at this time of loss. I think even with less than perfect relationships with parents it is always hard when they go. It must have been very painful with the Alzheimer's in the mix.

Hugs,

Shelley

The Feathered Nest said...

Oh Elizabeth. What a beautiful, touching tribute to your precious mom. Funny how we all have these "family" things or even "life" things that we deal or cope with, your mother included....but the secret is, HOW we deal with them, right?! You sound like you have a great handle on it all and it's all about loving one another in spite of our problems or differences. The pictures of you as a child are just precious!! I am so, so sorry for your loss sweet girl ~
hugs and love, Dawn

Debra@Common Ground said...

Elizabeth, I know your mom.
Thank you.
Love,
Debra
p.s. I've missed hearing from you.
You'll be in my prayers.

Bonjour Madame said...

I am so sorry for your loss. That was a really beautiful and moving story.

Claudia said...

Elizabeth,

This was a beautifully written post. You have touched us all with your honest reflections. I'm so sorry for your loss. Thinking of you.

xo
Claudia


P.S. Mine was always saying,"You should put on some makeup - then you won't look so pale."

Garden Antqs Vintage said...

E: What a sweet tribute to your mother and so sorry for your loss. Those pics brought back memories of of my own childhood, the cars, houses, too funny. You always have such a way of pouring out your heart about your life and this is why I so love reading your blog. Blessings to you. One more thing, I for one love your hair!

Sweet Old Vintage said...

Elizabeth... I have been wondering how you are... Always look forward to your post... This one was very honest and came from the heart... I know loss can touch us in mnay different ways... Blessings and looking forward to hearing about what you are up to in these months... I am waking up every morning in retirement... feeling more of the aging process and trying very hard to understand and enjoy little pleasures and be thankful for them......

cityfarmer said...

I have not traveled this "road" yet, but my day is coming, I know ... just a beautiful heart felt tribute to Mom ... you should be so grateful for the ethics she instilled in you ... and it shows.

I had a childhood that could carbon copy yours ...
mom and dad are still with me ...86 and 78 ...

carry on dear friend

Deanna said...

I hope you got my previous e-mail. You are in my thoughts and I'm truly sorry for your pain. I'm sure writing that piece w/ cathartic. It brought back a lot of precious memeories for me too.
Be well...D

Janice Selby said...

Elizabeth
I really enjoyed reading about your life with your parents. What good family photos to have to remind you of what good life it was back then.
It is always so painful when we loose our parents.

I loved the picture of your Mom all dressed up with her hat on.

Janice

Kelly said...

Sorry about your mother...you have posted wonderful pictures and thoughts of your mom..keep them close to you ...

Kelly

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

We will always carry our moms and their thoughts as part of us, all of our lives, won't we? I'm sorry for your loss.

Myrna said...

I loved your beautiful, heartwrenching, and honest tribute to your mom. I lost my mom when I was thirty and at times miss her so much I can't breathe. Other times,not-so-great memories will flood in to explain some behaviors I still carry on, and try to discard.
I was just talking to someone today about how our mother's generation and our grandparent's generation never talked about "private family matters"...now it's on everything from Dr. Phil to Jerry Springer.
Who knows what things your mother endured to make her the way she mothered you. It all gets passed on, the good as well as the bad, if you don't any better. I'm glad you can see your mom did the best she could with what she knew. And that you could forgive her.
And during this time of grieving and loss, I pray you'll allow God to come in, wrap His arms around you and let you be His little girl as He comforts you in ways only He can. He thinks you're an exceptional woman, Elizabeth, and He LOVES your hair!!
From my heart to yours,
Myrna

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hello Everyone!

Thank you for the lovely comments - how very thoughtful and encouraging! I have had some very touching emails today and it seems that several of us had mothers that could have been sisters. I had one sweet woman tell me that my mother and her mother were so much alike that we could be cousins - and that made me smile because I couldn't think of a better woman to be cousins with. :-)

We were very blessed that mother died in her sleep. It did happen quite suddenly. She always ate her meals and rolled around in her wheelchair visiting the other residents daily. But suddenly she didn't feel like eating and her rolling came to and end and a few days later she sort of shut down. She went peacefully and we were grateful.

Thank you for the kind words and while we all do the best we can in life, it is my hope that my failures are faded a little more and it is my victories that hopefully shine a little brighter in the memories of those left behind.

Love
Elizabeth

Aili said...

Thank you for sharing the great, bad and ugly. It was an honest and loving tribute, God bless you and your family during this difficult time.

Cathy Louise said...

So sorry sweet friend...Love you from the bottom of my heart. Sending you the biggest hug from Aus.... cxxx

Jancey Craig said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother. I'll have to share your story with my husband, as he can be quite fearful of things and I'm afraid he's going to pass that on to our children. I'll be praying for you!
Your friend,
Jancey

Laine said...

Love love love your blog. I've been following it for about a year. I was taken back by your honesty about your Mom. I admire your courage.
Also love all the photos of your previous appartment and wedding. You, precious woman, are an amazing talent with an even bigger life still to come.

rozetta said...

I know what you're going through, my dad died (87), in September. It's amazing at the flood of memories that one has. My father's health declined for three years, but I feel fortunate that his mind stayed sharp. We had a lot of late night hospital talks, which enabled me to rid myself of any bitter moments I had growing up. Now, I cherish all the good things.

Before my dad died, he said, "Elaine, life is just too short." He still had a joy for life and learning and hadn't done everything he wanted. Hearing him say that has influenced my life. I'm retiring earlier than I had planned and now, have a drive to try to do everything that I've wanted to do and not gotten around to.

There is a saying,
"A Mother's Touch Lasts F O R E V E R." When a friend of mine saw that on a pillow, she said, "yes, and it's taken me years of therapy to get over it."

I loved your post. I thank God, that we're fortunate enough to be able to put things into perspective and not let the circumstances of our growing up years dominate our day-to-day living.

By the way, I've always loved your hair and have thought about downloading your picture to show to my hair stylist.

~elaine

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Again,

I just have to say how touched I am by all the loving comments. I will admit that I hesitated several times after I wrote this post before I pushed the "publish" button. I wondered, "should I really publish something so personal?" But my finger hit the published button and out it went.

Thank you for letting me know that it was "okay" to share with you and to let you know I loved my mom in my own way just like I am sure she loved me in her own way even if I didn't always get it.

And also - your nice hair comments made me smile and I can't help thinking that mom is reading your all your nice hair comments and how even Rozetta may download my photo and show it to her hairstylist and my mom is saying to the other mom angels in sheer frustration, "there just must be a shortage of mirrors down there...." and the other mom angels are all nodding their heads in agreement. .....hahahaha...

heather jenkinson said...

Oh, Elizabeth, that was breathtakingly honest and it really moved me. I cried reading this post. What a crazy mix of emotions it must be to lose your mother - and a relationship so intensely complex, from your life. Although, the person may have moved on, the relationship is still very much there and probably always will be.

I just love that you stayed true to who she was to you; I think we can sometimes glorify the past and I'm not sure that's particularly helpful. From what I can tell, you've spent part of your life righting her wrongs (as all daughters do). I remember a post where you talked about a woman coming in and sitting in your shop because it made her feel happy to be in there. You talked with her for hours because she was upset. Sitting in the moment with someone and loving them for who they are, allowing them to just be is such an act of love.

I think you're wonderful. And your hair looks great. (I've always thought so when peering at your photo out of curiosity.)

Heather x

~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ said...

My dear I think your hair is so cute I can't believe. . Well, yes, my hair is a source of pain for my Mother too. I believe my Mother was your Mothers sister. Makes us cousins and that's Ok with me. Except I would be the older sister! Fear fear and more still. Funny how many of the things she feared for me happened. Fear begets fear and it is attracted to us. Law of Attraction.
Bless you and Good Wishes going out to you. Thanks for sharing so honestly.

Bobbi said...

Dear Elizabeth, Mothers and daughters...it is the eternal mystery to me. Mine is so much like yours, except (and this is God's truth) when she did it to me at the carnival, the swing ride snapped and the rider flew out into the crowd to a certain and painful death. I was 5 years old again, feeling it all, as I read your story. And it isn't my hair, it is anything, but always something, that she can put a "dig" in. And smoking like a chimney, except that mine drinks beer instead of cocktails. Uncanny. I have often wondered how I will feel when she leaves, reading your story makes me see it all a little clearer. You are a good woman to share it, warts and all. I know it would be easier to just say the good things. Thank you. Bobbi

Donna, The Decorated House said...

Hi Elizabeth~
Such a very bitter-sweet post. One of the most difficult things in the world to go through is certainly the loss of a parent. Even before they actually pass on.
The memories you have of a time gone by are so wonderful to me. Although I live in the moment of today, it is impossible not to feel the pull of the time when we went out the front door from dawn to dusk to play and no one had to worry about where we were. We were "out playing" and that was so perfect.
Donna

Vicki said...

Beautifully written. Bless you and bless your mother. The Lord is close to the broken hearted. Psalms 34:18

Lauren1964 said...

Loved your post. My mom also died, February 2nd of 2010. I can relate to your words about your mom, how she did things to make you crazy. Same here. But after her death, all I wanted to do was tell everyone about the things she did right. Mothers may not be perfect, but they are still our moms and they are appreciated. I hope you are doing well during this time of loss.

Lauren

Secret Leaves said...

How did I miss this post??!! This is my favorite post you have ever written. I loved seeing the old photos of your home, you and your family. It's too bad your mom had such negative feelings about her looks--she was actually a striking, stylish woman. It's too bad we can't see ourselves the way others see us. Anyway, love to you and I hope you are well.

Sharon

Mary said...

Hi Elizabeth - I'm behind with blogging - computer problems etc. - so am just now reading your amazing post on your mother and your childhood. First, condolences on her passing, it's always hard for despite differences we are always our mother's daughter. I still feel the pain from when mine died 7 years ago - fortunately I got home to England and had one last visit with her, she died the next morning and I feel waited for me to come.

I hope you find comfort in all the memories of the good times with your parents. I loved that you shared so much in this very personal post Elizabeth. Having so many wonderful photos to add to it made it very sweet, thank you.

In the later posts you had me in stitches over that 'barber husband' and his antics. Randy is a treasure - I wish I was nearby, he could cut/color my hair any day if he could make me look as cute with short hair as you!

I've opened a new blog and hope you will stop by - find me here now at A BREATH OF FRESH AIR

http://abreathoffreshair-mary.blogspot.com

Hugs - Mary (formerly ACROSS THE POND)

Nutbird said...

Elizabeth - my favorite name. Your mom was probably so fearful because your brother died. She might have blamed herself. The loss of a child changes you forever. She probably was a little jealous because you are so feisty, spunky and a lot of things she wasn't. People romanticize the mother - daughter connection, but many times it falls short, or just doesn't happen. I have also heard that people are concerned the most about things they are most insecure about in themselves. Like me worrying about manners. That might explain the hair.
You were lucky your mom let you mess up your room and do things with her. Cherish your memories.
Your humanity shows through in your blog. Looking forward to seeing your new page. I am going to try to find the magazine. Ann

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Ann,

Thank you for the thoughtful comment. Yes, I thought about that too. I think I understood her fear a little more after I lost my twins in a miscarriage. Although never a parent myself, I already had my twins married and grown in my mind only to lose them. So, I can't imagine how horrible it would be to bury a child.

I do enjoy remembering the funny things she did. Like one time, when all of us kids were little and left alone one summer day, she came home and heard a lot of giggling in the backyard and she walked around back and saw us three looking up at the trees laughing and waving our arms. She looked up and saw thousands of bubbles - tons of them. We then saw mom looking at us with her hand on her hip not smiling.

She asked us what we were doing and we moved away from the A/C unit and she saw that we had turned on the A/C so the fan would spin and we had the water hose spraying on and we were tossing dish washing soap on it and we made our own HUGE personal bubble maker! We all stood quietly as she approached us and she looked down at the spinning fan on the A/C with the water hose spraying on it. She looked at the bottle of soap and then took the bottle of dish soap and squirted it all over the fan and watched the bubbles build up and finally blew up into the trees. She started to laugh and we all joined in and had a bubble party. She laughed and said, "How in the world did you kids ever come up with this?" We just laughed and said that when bored, we come up with all sorts of stuff...it was fun playing with her when we thought we were all in trouble.

Thanks for finding me and letting me relive that moment.

Love
elizabeth

LivingVintage said...

I loved this post so much, glimpsing inside your childhood and seeing how we're all connected by tiny threads. The swings you showed at the carnival did remind me of a terrifying experience. I rode one when I was very young, maybe about 10 years old? I was very skinny, too, and they hadn't strapped me in very well, and I slipped down during the ride. I hung on for dear life during the entire ride, terrified and crying the whole time. I kept hoping my mom would notice how upset I was and demand that the ride be stopped, but it didn't happen. Fortunately, it was 'just' a scary experience and that was all, but I've been leery of carnivals ever since.

Elizabeth Maxson said...

Hi Kim,

Oh my gosh! If my mother had seen what happened to you while on that swing, she would have just pointed at you and then tell me, "See?! THAT is why I am not letting you ride on that ride!" (She loved being right!) :-) Thanks for sharing and stopping by - I have a feeling we would have been great friends as little girls - and now, as older "girls" too.

Happy Easter, Kim
Lots of hugs
Elizabeth

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