My mother was a gift of endearing, eclectic talents that still make me smile when I think of them.
These weren’t skills, though Mom was skillful in the same ways most mothers are. She took us to church, got us up for school every weekday and kept my four brothers and me healthy and safe.
Her talents were what made Mom so special. They were tiny glitters of delight to her children. Some were a bit embarrassing to us. Others made us giggle, and we tried to imitate her. But all of them made Mom glow in our eyes like a holiday sparkler. Our childhood smiles were her creations.
On long, sticky summer nights Mom kept us enthralled with her one-woman show of soft-shoe dance. She stood in the middle of the living room and “step-swish- swish”-ed a rhythm; we watched and imagined her out of her flowered polyester pants and bedecked in the kind of fancy clothing a “step-swish-swisher” must wear.
Nobody could play a meaner game of Bottle Cap Baseball than my mother. I can still see her, planted sturdily in our driveway on bare feet; her ample upper arms wobbling like Jell-O as she smacked an Orange Crush or RC Cola bottlecap with her lucky stick/bat. It whizzed past our faces, buzzing like a hummingbird.
Mom taught us how to recite the alphabet backwards (a talent I taught my own children with pride) and we learned our own names backwards, too. She’d call us by those names when she was feeling silly.
Music was a big part of my childhood, because Mom loved it so much. For a while, we had an old piano in our house. She taught herself to play almost every song in the Baptist Hymnal on that piano…but just the treble clef.
So, I learned to play almost every song in the Baptist Hymnal, too: just the bass clef. With her being right-handed and me a lefty, it was a perfect arrangement.
We’d sit together on the wobbly bench, twins conjoined by a single hymn, and wrap our musically-neutral arms around each other like freckled barrel staves. I’d play the low notes and she’d play the high ones.
My brothers groaned as we began a second verse of “The Old Rugged Cross”, but Mom and I smiled and plunked in slightly-syncopated delight.
There were always woods behind the houses where I grew up. My brothers and I spent long hours exploring them every summer.
Sometimes we’d lose track of time and forget to check in. We never worried, though. Mom had a unique, fool-proof way of calling us.
No matter where we were, our ears were trained to listen for her signal. Through the trees and along the paths, Mom’s voice would sail in a unique pattern of music.
“Woooo….Ooooo!” It was long as an echo and bright as birdsong.
One “Woooo…Ooooo!” meant: ANSWER. We’d each sing back in thin imitation.
Two “Woooo…Ooooo!”s meant: COME HOME.
When dusk came, I knew to listen for that double call. It would be time to head toward the lighted windows where Mom was waiting to settle us into baths and bed. No other sound was or is more beautiful to me than that melodic call.
My mother glowed with the enthusiasm of little joys; she found ways to enrich our lives in ways we would never appreciate until we grew up enough to look back and realize how full of love those little things were.
When Mother’s Day rolls around each year, I’m reminded again how lucky I am to have had her in my life.
And when it’s finally time for me to see my mother again, I won’t be worried about the journey.
I’ll just listen for her “Woooo…Ooooo! Woooo…Ooooo!”
I’d know the sound anywhere, and I’ll follow its music with a grateful smile, toward the most talented Mom ever.
Welcome to the discussion.
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.