Monday, September 10, 2007

My Mother,the Comedian

The boxes are almost all unpacked now, and I've run across more of my past than I realized I even HAD.

  • Letters from boys who call me "babe" that I don't remember dating, or what they look like, or how I knew them.
  • Breakup letters from me to boys I didn't realize I cared so much about.
  • My baby book, complete with pics of 4-month old widdle bald me.
  • A pair of lederhosen.
  • Wooden shoes.
  • Old pay stubs.
  • A beer stein from Spankys, an H-burg INSTITUTION.
  • and letters from my parents.

The letters from my Dad made me cry; that slanty engineer's handwriting bring back powerful memories of his laugh, scent, eyes, and voice. So many of them were for special occasions and full of heartfelt and beautiful words, and even the most mundane notes about "remember to get your oil changed" and "I put 100 bucks in your bank account for ya, go buy some more noodles" were often signed with "all my love, Dad." Even now, when I read that closing line I just know he was telling the truth.

The letters from my Mom are chatty and informative, little snips of her day from back in the days when e-mail hadn't been invented yet as fodder for the masses and their masses of communications. These notes reveal a humorous side to my Mom that is lighthearted and offers an insight into her stream of consciousness.

I'm going to offer you a snippet, but first you should know that at the time my Mom wrote this she was only a couple of years older than I am now. I was 22, in my fifth year of college after switching out to become a biology teacher. She was teaching Biology for the first year ever while studying to get her certification to teach Biology (or some crazy a-- shizz like that).

It should become readily apparent what Mom thought of all the studying and schoolwork as you read the except from this note, typed on 18 October 1984:


"Hello Tiff (author's note: she used my real name, obvs),

What's new in the life of a James Madison University senior, senior? When are you getting married? How's that for an opener? Does it capture your attention? Does it lead you to reply? Does it make you want to barf? How is this for expository writing? Awful you say? Am I bored? Do I want to waste paper this way? What is an invertebrate? Who discovered TNT? What is an SS18 or even and SS 19? What do I care?

I have my midterm in Nuclear War last night (authors' note: oh-KAY! My mother the wonk!). Can you tell? I think that he and I read different books. 50% of the questions (multiple choice) had two very different good answers, so we were told to pick the "best" one. Is that nonsense? I think so. The prof. also said that he will not grade the exams before next week because then we will have an hour in class to argue for our answers and can change his key before he grades the papers. Have you ever heard of that? Not me! Again after the break last night, from a class of 80 people, 20 were left to listen to the guest speaker. Several of the younger people left after the exam and got sloshed. I think that they had the better idea."


Mom goes on for another couple of paragraphs in a very chatty way, then closes by telling me she loves me "even though I'm thin."

There are dozens of notes like this. I read almost all of them while sitting at my kitchen table Saturday morning, as the cat snoozed on the partially unpacked box of memories and the cicadas buzzed in the sunny heat of late morning.

Then it struck me. I write like she did.
My blog entries are her notes! Whoa, color me shocked! I mean, y'all, I had always thought I was so DIFFERENT from her.....and the joke is, apparently, on me.

So, Mom? Thanks so much for showing me EARLY what it's like to blog. Those little notes you typed so regularly taught me that words carry meaning, convey love, amuse, and bind us to one another through their sharing. I cherish all the old ones, and look forward to all the new ones. Thanks for showing me who you really are, one word at a time.

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