Making Memories With My Mother
This time of year has always had a “Mom” feel as Easter, Mother’s Day and my mother’s birthday are all within a two month window. It’s Spring, the Earth awakens, and the flowers my mother plants begin to bloom.
Ironically, one of the earliest memories with my mother was in Autumn. We were in a farm truck in a cornfield. My mother was hauling harvested corn from the field to grain silos for a local farmer. The whole idea of being off the road in a big truck fascinated me along with the sound of the corn as it was being dumped in the truck. The seat of the farm truck seemed huge and my mother looked so tiny behind the wheel. I was even tinier as I clutched my wooden Fisher Price toy train as the truck bounced along the ground but I was happy.
Other early childhood memories are murky. I remember being in the hospital and oxygen tents. As Mom explained it,
“You almost died when you were three and were in the hospital for nine days. That is why I had to count your breathing each night for years. If your breathing got up to 50 times a min. while you were sleeping we had to call right away and get you in the tent thing with plenty of fluids. I think the normal for a three year old was about thirty times a min. so when it got higher it was a problem.”
It’s no wonder my mother worries so much. One night I awoke gasping for air. I got Mom up and she rushed me into a hot shower where the warm steam helped open up my lungs.
Some of my best and possibly my mother’s worst memories happened in the kitchen. Mom is a great cook and sometimes she couldn’t cook fast enough to feed us. When she made crêpes, they were so light and delicious that she couldn’t make enough. My father, sister, and I ate them as soon as they came out of the pan. She had the same issues when she made Chinese dumplings.
Mom also makes the best sticky buns. Once, as she was pulling a hot pan of gooey delicious sticky buns out of the oven, it dropped and I grabbed it. Soon she had a little boy whose finger tips looked like ping pong balls because they had blistered out so much. Another time Mom had a pot of boiling water and I bumped into her as she was carrying it to the sink (I don’t know how she accomplished anything with me constantly underfoot). I was wearing socks and the boiling water splashed on my foot. I remember there was a two second delay as we both looked at my foot and then at each other before I started screaming. That time I had a severely burnt foot that resulted in many trips to the doctor.
This past Easter at my parent’s house my wife Lisa called me into the kitchen to help my mother. My mother is tiny, so after she pulled the Easter ham out of the oven she had to get on a step stool to reach inside the roasting pan to grab the ham. I offered to help and even though it’s been over 40 years since my kitchen “accidents”, she told my wife, “No, don’t let Wayne touch anything, he’ll burn himself.”
Growing up, my parents both had multiple jobs and were always busy. I have many memories of one or both of them being asleep on the couch. In retrospect it was probably a collapse from exhaustion more than it was a refreshing nap. However I always thought my parents looked cute when they were asleep.
In later years we’ve been able to do a few things that involved just Mom and I. My mother and I both love Washington D.C. and we’ve taken several trips there. We went to see Bob Newhart at the Warner Theater. We ate at Planet Hollywood. We’ve gone through Union Station, the Postal Museum and the old post office together.
Mom rarely asks for anything for herself but once she asked Dad for a two-seated kayak. Mom and I had fun one day paddling along the Choptank and Tuckahoe rivers — we need to do that again.
I’ve only shared a few of many happy memories with my mother. It’s her birthday today so I thought I’d surprise her with this little story. Thank you Mom for life, for keeping me alive, and for making that life extra special.