Mary Beth Writes

If you haven’t read yesterday’s comments, go back to read some wonderful memories of peoples’ aunts and “aunts”.

My morning's been packed. Before it was even 8:00 we played facetime dollhouse with our 6-year-old grandkid. She laughed extremely hard at the wedding of wee Kristoff (the Frozen story) to a new clothespin doll from Goodwill, because the groomsman kept standing on the cupcake table. No one could get the groomsman to straighten out so a collie had to run over and bite him.

Then I went for a walk and saw the bunny in the above photo. (Has very little to do with M-Day but I just took it, ya know?)  And then, while sitting here trying to write a hawk flew into the neighbor’s tree to chase a baby squirrel who was skittering around the trunk of the tree. The squirrel survived (to eat my garden later this summer) and I am (as ever) dazzled by the liveliness of a modest life.


Here are my last two Mother’s Day columns of yore.

May 8, 2004 - Mom Memories

I'm helping you with your Mother's Day gift this year by inventing some sentiment-evoking questions. If you write some of your memories into a card, then give it to your mom, I can almost guarantee you will turn her to mush. (Though if she's counting on new leopard print seat covers for her Corvette, you better get them, too.)

If your mom has passed away, then maybe these questions can take you back to some sweet old times.

I've answered the first question. The rest are answered by some witty, generous readers.

Do you remember something you mom wore that you thought was beautiful?

I was Kindergartner as I watched my mom get ready to go to a fancy party with my dad. She wore a 1950's era dress of stiff white organdy flocked with a black pattern. It had a cinched waist and flared skirt. She wore black patent heels, rhinestone jewelry, and I remember thinking she must be the most beautiful woman in the world.

It wasn't until I was working on this column that I realized the 1950's-inspired dress my daughter wore to prom was stiff white organdy flocked with a black pattern. It had a cinched waist with a flared skirt. She wore black patent sandals, a glistening necklace, and she was beautiful. Sometimes, when we wish our parents could be here to see our kids grow up, maybe they are?

Do you remember your mom getting mad at you?

"We always wore cobbler (big, they covered everything) aprons at meals. I often put my potatoes in the pocket of mine. That meant when Mom did the wash the potatoes would float around in the washing machine. It made her really mad."       

"I was a handful as a kid. One day she chased me around the house several times then up the stairs to my bedroom. When she finally got me, she was too out of breath to punish me."

How organized is or was your mom?

"I suspect every family with five kids in it experiences some chaos all the time. People running in and out of our farm house, chores to do, meals to cook, animals to feed - my mother tended to a thousand details as best she could.

One day she had us all search for car keys. Pockets, purses, cupboard drawers, knickknack bowls. Had the dog taken them? They were nowhere.

"OK, let me get some juice while I think.

"There, next to the gallon of milk in the refrigerator, were the keys.”

Does/Did your mom have a favorite kid?

"My sister was her favorite. She was a goody two shoes and still is."

"My mom treated my sister and I equally. If she had a favorite, we sure didn't know it."

Is/Was your mom a good cook?

 "My mom had four kids, worked a 40-hour week, came through the door at 5:00 behind a bag of groceries, had a full course meal on the table by 6:00."

"I remember when my mother invited the boss's wife to our house for dinner. She decided to make a rather exotic Jello that was supposed to look like an aquarium. Well, it looked more like the bottom of a river, but my mother took it in stride, and I learned that the boss's wife was a very amiable person."

"My mother's worst meal was "smoked butt". It was awful, with grease floating on the top. I don't know why she made it. Maybe my dad liked it?"

Is/Was your mom thrifty?

“Our mother made us wash and reuse plastic wrap and aluminum foil. I often wondered if she ended up buying only one box of each in her lifetime."

Is/Was your mom a good driver?

"No, she used two lanes at all times."

Does your/Did your dad have a nickname for your mom?

"My mom's name was Ruth but he called her Susie. When my dad passed away, I had flowers sent to his funeral from Susie. The minister hid them because he thought they were from his girlfriend. They were."

Does your/Did your mom create special occasions just for your family?

"My Mom always emphasized the importance of family, perhaps because her mother died when she was in high school, then she and her siblings, without their father, were relocated to a Japanese internment camp.”

"When I was a kid, my mom organized a Family Night once a week where we played games like Bingo, with little prizes like Cracker Jacks. As I approached adolescence, I thought it was corny but now as an adult, I vacation every year with my Mom and my brothers and their families and we play Bingo with Cracker Jack prizes."

If you just close your eyes and remember your mom - what do you see her doing?


What was the smartest thing you mom ever said to you?

"Always set your face toward the sun, darling, and the shadows will fall behind you."

If you could give your mom anything in the world, what would you give her? Several people answered exactly the same.

"A hug. A big, long hug in heaven."

Is your mom beautiful?

"Aren't all moms beautiful?"



May 13, 2006 - The Naked Truth of Moms

There are so many, many things to say about mothers. Your mother, if you are lucky, is the person on earth who will tell you (in no uncertain terms) that there is a "right way" to do most things. And your mom will do her utmost to get you to act in that "right way." A mom gives you your standards of perfection.

Also, because you make her acquaintance while you are a baby and therefore not yet on to the ways of mortals, it's likely you will always half-believe your Mom is the soul of all that is right, true, and uncorrupted. When moms make goofs, it surprises us.

Things readers told me about their moms.           

"As a child in grade school my mother would make school lunch sandwiches for my sister and me. Just to make things interesting and for no apparent reason she would put things like a small piece of string in a peanut butter sandwich, a bit of cotton in a tuna fish sandwich or a couple of raisins in a cheese sandwich. By the time I was 10 I made my own sandwiches.

"My Mom is alive and well at 94. Recently she sent me a recycled birthday card, crossing out the greeting to her and adding "Love, Mom."  

"I remember one time (I'm not sure what the offense was) I was going to get a spanking. I was probably a little too old for a spank but my mom got a yardstick to enhance the whack on the rear-end. Upon impact the yardstick broke instantly causing no pain -- I burst into laughter. That did not help the situation.”

"Mom worked part-time 3rd shift. I'm sure she never got all the sleep she needed yet she never missed a school concert, honors night, brownie meeting, spelling test practice, or Christmas program. She did, however, make two kitchen errors that we still giggle about. Once she forgot to add sugar to the Kool-Aid yet insisted that it was just fine and we should drink it.  Another time she forgot to add tuna to the tuna casserole."

"When we kids were very little, our mother told us that "Harry the Monster" lived in the crawlspace under our house. When she'd turn on the kitchen disposal, she'd tell us that was Harry growling."  

"My mom always said to us whenever we’d say we were hungry, "Lucky for you, we have food in this house." It's so predictable that when I came home one weekend from college I said I was hungry, realized what I had said, waited about two seconds, and said in perfect unison with her "Lucky for you we have food in this house."

"My mom is big on bargains. This year I got some marshmallow peeps in my Easter basket. As I ate them I noticed they were a little hard. I asked her about that. She'd bought them on sale last year."

 "It was the middle of the winter and my mom was soaking in the tub upstairs while downstairs my two brothers, both in their teens, were fighting (this was not unusual). In the middle of the room where the boys were there was a kerosene heater. Well, the fight escalated until the heater got knocked over and spilled all over John's foot. John started shrieking with pain. Sam ran upstairs to tell Mom and Pop. The next thing you know, my mom comes racing down the stairs carrying her huge, overgrown aloe plant -- and she's completely naked!! I watched in amazement as she started cracking open leaf after leaf after leaf of the plant onto John's foot, all while naked and soaking, dripping wet. Later the doctor in the ER told her that she'd saved my brother's foot."

"My mom's opinion was that all men should get vasectomies at 12 or 13. Then, later, they could get the vasectomies reversed if they really wanted children. The first time she met the man who is now my husband she said this to him."

"Mom's been gone for over 20 years but I still remember her adventurous cooking. She liked to try new things -- like a herring casserole or Swiss chard pie. "

Our mothers awe us because they are so often right, strong, perfect, and wise. But when they are as imperfect as we are, well, we love them even more.

"I remember the day before I started Kindergarten. My mom took me to a park filled with roses and pushed me on a swing. And then kept pushing me on that swing for a really, really, really long time."

I hope Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day brings you good memories; we know not everyone is that lucky. What are happy memories of your mom or of the women who made you feel good about yourself when you were a kid?




Todays my first Mother’s Day without my Mom. This helped. Thank you.
Mary Beth's picture

I thought of you and of others I know who have lost their mothers in the recent few years. I am so sorry. Even when one's mom has lived a long, loving, generous, interesting life - it is still so hard to lose them. Maybe harder.

These are lovely, touching and sweet. Thank You.

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A-Z P is for Procrastination


Procrastination. Or how the American Revolution was won. 

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't grant him the serenity to accept the things he cannot change.” (Tweet by Bob Golen) 

P is the next letter to write about in this project to write an essay for every letter of the alphabet. Someone suggested Procrastination.

Guess what? I’ve been putting it off.


GNTL - So Many Words!


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Words!

The month of May might have been above my paygrade. I contributed to a weeks-long writing project in our congregation. I met friends more often than usual to talk and catch up. Two grandkids came for a sleepover last week. Our daughter and her little dog spent last Friday with us. Saturday another grandkid slept over.

GNTL - Kathryn's Garden


Grownups Noticing Their Lives - Kathryn’s Garden

My friend Kathryn sent some beautiful photos of her garden to me this morning, I asked if I could post them here and she said yes. 

Some of you know Kathryn Rouse so you know this is not a garden-come-lately. She’s been building and growing her garden since, I think, the late 1970’s. The bunny in a hurry is a Bill Reid sculpture.

I think Kathryn's photos are the right frame for the poem.

A-Z Observation

5/24/2023   O is for Observation

Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) was a pre-telescope Danish astronomer who looked at the sky more precisely than anyone before him had done. He was obsessively careful about measuring what he saw and he studied the sky every night he could. To accomplish what he wanted he reinvented and fine-tuned the sky-gauging tools of his era – sextant and quadrant.

You may have seen these tools in paintings of old-time sailors. They would hold them up to their face, look at the stars, figure out where they were in the world.

GNTL - Squirrels & Gardens & the Sonoran Desert


Grownups Noticing Their Lives

My garden thrives in ignominy.

Yesterday I posted some frugal things I’ve done lately at the Non-Consumer Advocate website. I do this because the kinds of people who try to be frugal are often (not always) people who I wish would come over here and read my website, too. I don’t write too much about frugal strategies but I write lot about values. We are in the same Venn diagram, right?

GNTL - Walk, Mounds, Spirit

Grownups Noticing Their Lives


The local TV weather folks talked about ‘a pneumonia front’ for two days. I’d never heard the term before but we all know temps can change fast, right? It’s more generally called life on planet earth. Keep a jacket handy if you can.

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