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Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Mother! My Self?

 “I am nothing like my mother.”

Such was my mantra - spoken and unspoken, often adamantly - since adolescence.   Suffice it to say that I never held my mother's station in life in high regard.  Oh, I have always loved my mother.  At times, I even like her.  I just didn't want to be like her.

To whit:

My mother did not drive.
I got my license at 16.

My mother did not work outside the home.
I work enough for two.

My mother did not go to college.
I went - on scholarship - and then some.

My mother married my father.
I didn't marry anyone, especially anyone like my father.

I think I even willed myself to grow three more inches when I was in high school, right after a woman in Korvettes mistook me for my mom.

You get the idea.

I must admit, though, that my journey through the decades has softened that adamance.  I still scrutinize myself from head to toe for any signs of resemblance and meticulously work to eradicate them.  I catch my breath when I catch myself saying something my mother might say.  But when I was ambushed recently by our commonality, I have to admit:  I survived.

Since my father died in 2006, I have made more and more of an effort to spend more time with my mom.  When she moved from her house to a small apartment, I realized that she was a single woman, living alone, for the first time in her life.  And being single is something I am good at.  Maybe that was something we could share.

So, after a recent lunch date, I hung out with my mom for a little while in her little apartment.  She is especially proud - and especially fond - of her music CD collection.  Mom is no technophile: she has a Walmart CD player on the end table.  Her collection of music is best described as "eclectic."  And was somewhat of a surprise to me.  I always knew I got my love of music from her (and the piano, which I have rolled into at least seven of my own residences).  I just never knew how much of the same music we loved.

Oh, I am still The Beatles and Mom is still Elvis, but we both love "I'll Remember You" from Elvis' Hawaii concert.  Mom's a little bit country and I'm a little bit rock-and-roll.  Willie Nelson?  I'll pass.  But Ricky Nelson - we're both board.  Rod Stewart? Mom (79!) is a big fan.  Me, not so much.  And I'll take Dean Martin over her Al Martino any day.  Pick a song on any CD, however, and I guarantee you within 99% we will both know all the words.

But what really floored me was what happened that day as I was leaving.  As I ducked out the door, I said, "Oh, Mom, you'll appreciate this."  And proceeded to recount hearing a song that I hadn't heard in more than 20 years over the PA system in the supermarket.  When I told her the title, she ran to her CD collection:  "Wait!  I have that one!"

“I am nothing like my mother.”
As my mother would say: “Famous last words.”


  1. Mary, this is lovely. I hope you and your mother have many years of companionship, discovery and laughter ahead of you.

  2. Beautiful Mary. I really relate.
    I am so grateful that before my mother died we became friends, and I was able to appreciate and enjoy her strengths and gifts. I realize now, sometimes what I saw as her weaknesses were really me just wanting/expecting too much from her.

  3. Mary: Loved the insight into the tension between mothers and daughters. I know I disappointed my mom in my growing years. I did not follow the path as expected. But she never gave up on me and I have always appreciated her love. We don't have much in common, except a life of shared memories, most of them good. I feel so lucky to have her still with me at age 86. Makes me wish sometimes I had a daughter in my life. Having a son is great, but a daughter is a very special gift. Happy Mothers Day readers.