Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Columns

May 11, 2014

All lessons from Mom, big and small, are important and cherished

— — Bright, shiny toenails peek out from the straps on my sandals. The shade, OPI’s “Not Really a Waitress” red, is a bit bolder than my mother would have chosen. She preferred pearly pinks and seashell hues.

Yet due to her words of wisdom, I never exit my home in the spring without some sort of pedicure — be it professional or a late-night paint fest in my dressing room. According to Mom, ladylike behavior dictates polish on toes before showing them to the world in strappy shoes.

I’ve not sported naked toes since the age of 12.

lll

My mother’s words of wisdom spanned a variety of topics. From career options to the best choice of a bridal shower dress, she always knew the right move for me to make — five steps before I made it.

But she was never overbearing in her knowledge. Advice was always given gently, and only when asked.

With five kids, she had her hands full. From diaper years to diploma age and beyond, one of us was always experiencing some sort of drama at any given moment. Mom never gave in to the hysterics of the day. She talked us through the moments with calm reasoning — a life lesson for us in years to come.

lll

My back burning from a May sunburn, I think of Mom and our many family vacations to Myrtle Beach. I know having a red-headed youngster wasn’t easy for her.

As soon as Mom slathered me up with sunscreen, I would quickly jerk away to jump into the pool or wade out in the ocean. Back in those days, waterproof lotions were unheard of. Ultimately the day would end with bright red cheeks and shoulders. She never made mention of me washing off the “sunblock,” as it was called then. Instead, she soothed the burn with a baking soda and water paste all the while reassuring me that the pain would soon be gone.

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I think of Mom often in the days leading up to Mother’s Day. It’s not the holiday that evokes the memories, but the season that accompanies it.

The lilacs and bridal’s wreath are in full bloom, and if Mom were alive and I not allergy ridden a vase of the purple and white blossoms would be adorning the kitchen table.

In the side yard the peonies have sprouted. Mom loved their fragrance, and back in the day bouquets would grace vases throughout the house.

On the mountainside, white trillium open their petals to greet spring. Mom loved the sight of the flowers cascading down the hillside. Viewing them from the kitchen window, she would say that the plethora of blooms reminded her of snow on the mountain.

As kids, we would eagerly run up on the hillside to pick her bouquets of the wildflower.

On a recent walk through snow-white blooms I am reminded of Mom and her love of flowers. It’s a trait that she passed on to her children. And one that we cherish.

lll

Cooking an omelette on a recent weekend afternoon, I again think of Mom.

In amazement, I watch as the fluffy omelette plops from the pan to the plate in a near-perfect state. It’s not a testament to my cooking skills, but, instead, of Mom’s focus on fundamentals.

I am truly the worst cook ever. And my culinary ineptitude was obvious to the adults around me while I was still a youngster. I had no interest in baking or sauteing. I appreciated a good meal, but my few attempts at cooking one ultimately led to the smoke detector going off.

But Mom persisted in the basics, which meant I learned to cook eggs. Fried, scrambled, boiled or whipped up in an omelette, I can cook them in any manner desired.

Of course, this means breakfast food three times a day, but hey, it’s better than frozen pizza or a microwave meal ... right?

lll

On this holiday, I will not only think of Mom, I will talk to her.

I will tell her what’s going on in my life, and confide in her the drama of many A-1 headlines. I will burden her with the frustrations of a fast-paced career, a hectic lifestyle and the aggravation of living with a nearly 200-pound dog.

Then I will share with her how happy I am.

I will tell her how I love my job, and how I achieved my goals because of her — her lessons, her faith, her belief in her children.

lll

On a recent walk I pick a trillium that has meandered down from the mountain and bloomed near the edge of the yard.

Glancing down I see the bright red polish on my toes.

I smile, and think of Mom.

All lessons, big and small, are important.

Samantha Perry is editor of the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at sperry@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTPerry.

 

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