My mother was 42 when I was born. My memories of her for the first few years of my life are rather vague and nebulous. It’s probably safe to say that I am unable to comment, with any firsthand knowledge, of the first 45 years of my mother’s life. But, for the 40-some odd years of mom memories that I do remeber, I can confidently claim that my mom is not a girly-girl. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing her. Just stating fact.
I can remember quite clearly how excited she was when the school district she taught for decided that it was alright for their female teachers to wear pants, rather than a dress every day. Ever since then, the only time mom wears a dress is for weddings, funerals, and certain special occasions.
Liberated she might have been, wearing those pantsuits, yet, she never got too liberated: she never burned a bra.
Now that she’s 88, she can’t do the things she once did, but, back in the day, my mom built and finished the cabinets in one of the bathrooms here in Chez Xanadu, she sanded and finished most of the built-ins in the house, she pounded nails, turned screws and sawed wood while the cabins in the mountains were being built, and she knows a few tricks about electrical wiring. She never wore her fingernails long, or painted them, as the paint would just chip, and the nails break during hard work. She wore a chipped nail, or a bandaged finger, as if it were a medal of honor.
And, let’s not forget this:
How many people can claim to have a photo, taken in the 1950s, of their mom on the rifle range, where she became a qualified marksman?
My mom’s never been into makeup — she had one tube of lipstick, and a couple of samples of other lipstick colors that she’d gotten at some Avon party, and that was all she owned for years. The tube of lipstick may have held the record for World’s Longest Living Lipstick — it resided in her top dresser drawer for my entire childhood, and was there when I moved out. She called me one day, I think I was in my early 20s, and told me she’d thrown out all her lipstick because she’d read an article that bacteria grew on the lipstick, and shouldn’t be used after a certain period of time. If it hadn’t been for that article, I have no doubt the tube of lipstick would still be there — only very special occasions warranted lipstick; being worn only once a year, a tube of lipstick can last a lifetime. Other than the lipstick, my mom has never worn any other makeup. I remember one time, she went to some makeup party, and came home with a new look. She showed us, we all made suitable noises of approval, then she went to the bathroom and washed it all off. “I’ve never had the patience to stand in front of