Thursday, December 30, 2010

Five Things I Love About My Mom

It's been a rough night for me. Friday will mark a full year's passing since I lost my mom to leukemia. But rather than wallow in grief, tonight I make the conscious decision to be happy that we had the sort of relationship that is so devastating to end. So here is a list of 5 things I love about my Dee, in no particular order.

1. She was hilarious. One time, she took my best friend Katie and me to see a movie at the drive-in. We stopped on the way to get a bucket of chicken to take with us. She left us in the car while she ran in the KFC, and when she came back out to the car she looked flustered and said, "Well that was a finger lickin' experience."

Another time her boss brought in his girlfriend, a model type with elongated features. He said, "Isn't she exotic?" to which she replied, "Yeah, she looks like a giraffe."

One time, she put icing all over a phone book and served it up as birthday cake.

2. She was spunky. In her younger days, she dated a guy named Johnny Lemon. Johnny drove a cherry red mustang with Woody Woodpecker painted on the hood. He gave her his drop, a gold pendant of his initials, to signify that they were going steady. He had given the same drop to all his other steadies and gotten it back when they broke up. When I helped her clean out her garage a couple of years ago, we came across it. Take that, Heartbreaker!

She got a memo one day at work that was addressed to everyone, but was really just for her. It said that everyone working there had to take up a full parking spot. She had been parking her motorcycle on the yellow line between the cars belonging to the president and VP of the company.

3. She threw great parties. Dee could put together a spectacular event on any budget. She helped me throw the best wedding anyone's ever been to, if I say so myself. But she also made her regular office meetings something to look forward to. In fact, they called her back for years after she retired to help plan conventions. Nobody could do it like her. She did things people would have never thought of. For my 13th birthday, back when I was obsessed with the local hockey team, the OKC Blazers, she helped me plan a bowling party. But when I showed up, my favorite player in the league was there to join us, as well as one of his teammates.

4. She wrote one hell of a letter. When someone wronged her or someone she cared about, she wrote letters so well-worded and scathing that I could hardly proofread them for her without feeling an amount of pity for the recipient, which was nearly always expressed as a nervous laugh because I cannot handle confrontation. When a friend of hers was asked to retire from her 30-year post as church secretary, she wrote a letter to the board of elders, naming names and listing in detail the ways in which this person had helped them. "She planned your mother's funeral. She taught your son in Sunday school. She arranged food for your family while you were in the hospital," and so on. Then she started a new church.

5. She retained her east Texas drawl. It doesn't say anything about her character, but this is the one that makes me cry as I write. Not being able to hear her voice has been one of the hardest parts of being without her. She had such a distinct sound that everybody knew her immediately by voice. People with whom she had only had phone contact knew her at once when they heard her speak in person. Once, back in the poor days, she wanted to apply for a line of store credit without our adorable salesman (who called her "My Dear" the whole time) knowing if she was denied. So we left the store and she called back to handle it all. Our little salesman answered the phone, and when she spoke her first word, he had the only appropriate reaction to hearing her voice: "Dee!" So much for being sneaky.

So there you have it. Five of a million things I cherish about our time together. I've said this same thing a thousand times over, but it still holds true. Anyone who knew her was fortunate; the only people who should mourn are the ones that never knew her.


  1. This is a really beautiful entry, Molly. Even though I only really knew her in my relatively younger years and only as your mom, she made such a lasting impression. I really can see and hear her in my mind, even after all of these years.

    Also, I remember that birthday party (and your obsession with the Blazers...and then later with Garth from Wayne's World...or maybe I have those mixed up). Sadly, I do not remember the names of the players. It's actually on the tip of my tongue and if I saw it again, I'd be like "Of course, talked about him non-stop". But that was one heck of a bday party and one heck of a mom!

    - Raven

  2. Damn. I can't believe it has been a year already. The last time I saw her was at a breakfast at Lucilles. The kids were on their best behavior and it was just a great time. She was a neat lady, indeed, and indubitably sasstastic. - Marisa