I have long promised to publish some of my mother’s writing in this blog and today seemed like a good day. I’ve been thinking about her lately because it is getting closer and closer to her birthday. She’s been gone six years and I still miss her. She was a wonderful writer and I hope you enjoy this column she wrote about her mother. (That's my dad with Mom and her mother.)
The Gentle Touch by Colleen Simmons
Red was Mother’s favorite color. And I suspect she was partial to those beautiful variations of scarlet because when she was a girl, this type of visual sensation was considered gaudy and even a sign of scandalous behavior. Red shoes were absolutely forbidden.
But Mama was stubborn in her refusal to accept these ever-changing, hypocritical rules of dress devised by man.
Last Sunday morning as I was setting my grandchildren’s table with bright red plastic plates and with mothers’ last birthday gift of drinking glasses embossed with red roses, I thought again of her.
Life is as brief as the twinkling of a tiny star and yesterday I was her first baby girl…after the arrival of three healthy Springer boys. Although she loved her children equally, Mama frequently reminded me of the special glow surrounding her first-born daughter.
Now, for almost 40 years, I too have felt the sorrow and the joy of being a mother. And even after all these years, it never ceases to amaze me when I hear and read some of the many and varied opinions we have of what a “good” mother should and should not be.
Some suppose that becoming a parent suddenly removes a woman from the reality of being an ordinary, everyday person into a realm of virtuous glory where mothers recline on snow white clouds of wonderfulness and understanding. Where halos are shining in the lovely morning mist and garments are eternally without spot or stain. Would you describe your mother in these glowing terms? Mama would have laughed at the very idea.
As a shy teenager I was often embarrassed by her audacity. She was never hesitant in voicing her mind to pushy traveling salesmen, preachers of false doctrines, and smooth politicians. They soon learned that Mama was a force to be reckoned with.
Recently a magazine article heading caught my eye: “How do your Children Reflect On You as a Mother?” The message that followed presented this mental picture: “The mother stands immobile. Her children busily engage in life. When her child is naughty, a shabby, unbecoming light is cast on poor Mom and she writhes in shame. On the other hand, if Sissy or Junior win a ‘good behavior’ medal, then a bright shining light is cast on Mom and she beams with maternal pride.”
Of course, after reading this I began to ask myself “How do I reflect on my mother?” That’s really when the total absurdity and unfairness of that question hit me.
Did Mama change and become better or worse because of the times during my life when I chose to be unfair to a friend, win a writing award, make a hateful remark, teach a Bible class, gossip or say a comforting word?
I’ll be eternally grateful for having a mother who probably never wasted her time in asking herself, “How do my children reflect on me as a mother?” Instead, she spent her time on earth stubbornly maintaining her right to be an individual and to love the color scarlet.
Just a note: I laughed when I read the first part of this because it reminded me of an older woman in our church who had very strict ideas about appropriate dress. One day in 1980 my friend wore red shoes to church. The older woman pulled her aside and said, “My daddy always taught us that only one kind of woman wears red shoes. And it isn’t the nice kind!”