Sunday, May 13, 2007


My mother was a woman with rituals. There was a place for everything and everything had it’s place. Certain behaviors were expected and to go against the grain of her expectations was not an option. We ate dinner religiously at four o’clock every evening, exactly fifteen minutes after my father arrived home from his day job, finishing no later than five o’clock before he had to depart for his night job. And she cooked every meal, breakfast, lunch and dinner without fail. There was no takeout, no fast food, no nothing other than what was put on your plate or in your lunch bag that you would finish without fail. She did all this while working both a factory job and doing day’s work on the side. I didn’t understand until I was well into my teens that her doing day’s work involved other people’s children and their dirt. Mom did all of this, bowled on a league team and played softball like a professional during the spring and summer. With a schedule that would rival any working mother’s, my mother never missed a parent-teacher conference, a recital, or any other event that would have left my sister or I disappointed. And the woman was even a Girl Scout leader for a brief period of time.

Saturday mornings were reserved for cleaning our house. We’d start at seven o’clock in the morning and finish when the last speck of dust was polished and shined away. My sister and I would begin by cleaning our room. We would strip the sheets from the beds, vacuum the carpets, put our assorted knickknacks away, and insure it would pass Mommy inspection least she start dictating the how’s and what’s that we had missed. When all was done, little sister got to empty the trash cans. I got the upstairs bathroom. When porcelain sparkled to her satisfaction, we three headed downstairs to finish off the living room, dining room, kitchen, and half-bath. The very last thing to do would be the mopping of the kitchen floor. Mind you, laundry was being washed during all of this because those dirty sheets had to be put away before the day was done.

Then the fun began. We cleaned house with the stereo blasting on loud, singing at the top of our lungs to old school soul, classic R&B, and Motown. Mommy loved herself some Motown. By the time I was six-years old I could tell you which male crooners knew how to beg a woman out of her clothes and which ones only thought they could. I knew the secrets of the clean-up woman, the other woman, and women who had a do-right man and didn’t know they had it so good. While the kitchen floor dried, me, Mommy, and little sister would suddenly become the Supremes, microphones held just so as we karaoked ourselves until we were karaoked out. Back then cleaning house was pure bliss.

My baby boy and his father surprised Mom and me with tickets for a Mother’s Day concert this afternoon featuring The Manhattans, The Dramatics, and The O’Jays. The Manhattans had me up on my feet waving my jellyroll. I was tripping down memory lane as they sang It Feels So Good To be Loved So Bad, and I won’t even tell you what I did to the man in front of me when they sang Kiss and Say Goodbye. The Dramatics kept me movin’ and groovin’ while I thought about taking a walk In The Rain and Mama lost complete control of her hips with What You See Is What You Get.

Then I lost my religion. I was too through when Eddie, Walter, and Eric went through their repertoire of baby-makin’ music. Mom was so focused that I couldn’t resist leaning in and whispering ‘don’t you go home and make no babies now!” Thought I would wet my pants we laughed so hard. I was amazed at how easily she and I revived our girl-group sway, finger’s snapping right on beat as we rocked to the left and the right, doing our side-to-side shimmy. As we left the arena, Mommy was grinning from ear to ear talking about her good time.

My Mother’s Day was pure bliss.


Anonymous said...

Reading your post I can honestly say your mama and mine would have been fast friends! :)

And your childhood sounds a lot like mine, right down to the Saturday morning cleaning ritual - one I STILL practice even though I only have one child, he is well trained on the drill.

And my mother was a southern girl so her ecletic taste included everyone from BB King to Loretta Lynn - lol!!!

I've often commented that there was something "special" about that generation of women.

Thanks for the happy reminder of brighter days.

Happy B-lated Mother's Day to you too!!!

Deborah Mello said...

"Special" indeed!

And thank you.