When I was a kid, I didn’t think it was anything special that my mom single-handedly remodeled our homes. No, I don’t mean she went shopping and had furniture delivered, hired men to paint, and found contractors to install new flooring. I mean she stripped wallpaper, put up new paper, painted walls, redid floors herself, built shelves, planted gardens with fences, created fancy dollhouses for me out of moving boxes, etc. Didn’t all mothers do these things?
I spent a lot of time walking with her through hardware stores, yet for whatever reason she seemed to avoid teaching me to help her. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect she didn’t want to impose her interests on me because she wanted me to find my own. While she was busy with her DIY stuffs, I would be reading or drawing doggies or making bead necklaces or embroidering a denim shirt… not that there’s anything wrong with that.
In New Jersey, she experimented quite a bit with recipes. We had a large garden and the typical zucchini megacrop. That was fun. She also went through a homemade soup phase and a Jell-O mold phase and a DIY ice cream phase… and of course a breadmaking phase. We also had a summer of candlemaking. I wish I had photos. See, if I’d made candles with my kids, that would definitely have generated a scrapbook spread, but my mom didn’t do scrapbooks, and photos were mostly taken on vacations. I have no tangible evidence of our candle phase, except the memory that it was fun. I know I made a few colorful mushrooms that could have festooned a set of Alice in Wonderland. There was also at least one frog and possibly other woodland flora and fauna.
Later on, whenever I was interested in something, my mom found a way to help me with it, if she could (or if I would let her). I didn’t appreciate this so much at the time, but isn’t it a nice quality of someone who cares about you? I appreciate that now, when a friend offers the gift of their time unexpectedly. It’s such a generous thing to do. I’m trying to be more that way myself, remembering Mom and what a kind, caring, generous person she was.
I will always miss her.