I’m backing out of my driveway the other day with my cell phone cocked on my shoulder as I set a date with Studio 10 TV in Tampa Florida. I’m not sure even a year ago I could imagine myself doing that–preparing for a television program about caregiving, elder-care, Alzheimer’s, family and mothers. As I hung up the phone and marked the date in my calendar, I remembered a small vignette I wrote in MOTHERING MOTHER–how my mother and I were “Quite a Pair.” We were ironically suited for one another.
If anyone had dared to say this to me even five years ago, they would have encountered an icy stare. The caregiving years were not the time to remind me of our likenesses. That was not how I wanted to see myself, and although my mother was bossy, opinionated and volitile. She was also dynamic, funny, and quite the professional.
My mother held her ministerial papers for over 52 years. She preached and taught, sang and played many instruments and was on TV and radio. She “carried herself well” as the southern saying goes. She was still my mother through and through, and even though I came to her late in life (she adopted me when she was 54, Daddy, 58), she still had a few good years left.
I witnessed how she’d get ready to preach–saw her closet full of suits, her handbags and matching shoes. The housework quieted as she prepared for her sermon or Sunday school lesson. She studied, prepared, practiced, and then she was up there–in front of everybody–waltzing across the stage like she was on Broadway. She was as comfortable speaking before hundreds or thousands as she was in the living room with her feet up. I hope some of that rubs off on me, and of course, she had me singing and testifying at the age of four in front of the whole congregation. No wonder it feels familiar.
Daddy and I sat on the front row, proud. I despised her at times–she was a walking juxtaposition of good and evil (it seemed to me, anyway), but up there…even I had to admit she was pretty amazing.
And here I am, talking to TV producers and thanking my mother for her example.