Sunday, May 11, 2008


Happy Mother's Day, all you mommies out there!

Bright and early (and I mean bright and early) I left my bed to go to a hardware store to be there at 7 a.m. SHARP to get in on the best choices of fuchsias; wanted to get the creme de la creme for my sister, Jackie.


I was there ten minutes early. The parking lot was empty except for employees who were filing in at what seemed to be a snail's pace. I felt so fortunate to have so little competition this morning. (Only for my sister would I undergo competition of this type, let me tell you!)

At 6:57 I meandered toward the front door of the store. Emblazoned across it was GIANT PLANT SALE! Begins....

Saturday, May 10th at 7 a.m.

I was right 0n time, 24 hours late. The store doesn't open until 8 a.m. today. And I'm sure all the best fuchsias are already long gone.


So I came home empty-handed and told her that we can go out again this afternoon when the grandkids go home and I will let her pick the best plant, of whatever kind, in town and I'll get it for her.

Then I realized, as she did... there won't BE any great plants later today -- the best plants will have been picked through yesterday and this morning. So I said we'll do it on some other weekend when it isn't Mother's Day. That suits her fine...

And frustrates the living daylights out of me.

I was watching the clock half the night to be sure I didn't oversleep the sale!

ARGHHHHH! Carumbah! Sugar jets! and.... pickles!

"Kris, if this is the worst thing that happens to you in your whole life, you'll be lucky." -- Dorothea Smith (our own dear mother, God rest her soul)

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And speaking of mothers -- let's do that today.

My mom and dad had three daughters, three years apart. Mom was also Dad's business partner in his construction business, so she was one of the original Super Moms.

Since three years separated her kids, she was forever taking us in three different directions for activities except for when we'd all go to the YWCA for swimming lessons and fun -- and even then we were in different swim classes. Laurel, Jackie and I all had different interests. I remember playing in kids' baseball (our team was called The Ponytails, so we all had pony tails!). Our wonderful neighbor, Mary Jane Cooper, was the coach. Her daughters -- Penny and Judi -- and Jackie and I were on the team. (I was their designated "power hitter" -- because I kept breaking the wooden bats we were using! Not part of the plan, I'm sure!)

It was Mary Jane Cooper who busted me the time I was out in the middle of Spanaway Lake on an inner tube headed for a raft to look for caterpillars. I couldn't swim yet. She called me in and told me to go directly home, where Mom would be waiting for me.

Oh, boy. Mom was waiting for me. And Dad attended to me when he got home, too. Lesson learned: do not swim, float, or even approach a body of water alone. EVER!

To this day I ask permission to take a bath...

Anyway... My mom ferried her contentious, often-obnoxious brood all over Tacoma for various functions... in between her business duties. I don't remember ever missing a piano lesson, a tap dancing lesson, a ballet lesson, plays we wanted to see. You name it. Magic Mom made it happen!

I do recall one time, early on, when I approached her at her desk and let her know I "needed" her. (I have no idea why.) She was focused on the task at hand and ignored me several times. I persisted (as young children always do, as far as I can tell). I was five or six or maybe seven and by golly, I NEEDED HER! NOW!

She couldn't discern an injury -- I wasn't crying -- and the house didn't smell of smoke, so she told me, "I'm too busy right now."


I tell you, my li'l ego rebelled! I was insulted. I was indignant. I was mortified.

I was deeply hurt. Deeply hurt. I remember the moment to this very day when Mom calmly informed me, via this outrageous statement, that I WAS NOT THE CENTER OF THE KNOWN UNIVERSE!

It was a rude awakening, let me tell you. But it was time, and it was a lesson I needed to learn. Some people, it seems, never do learn it. I've met a few and seen a number of them on TV and they're all pretty unbearable.

So, thanks, too, Mom, for that. Even though it hurt. More than a little. Ouch!

Truth to tell, from the moment Mom became a mom, her family was her universe. That's why she was so busy at her desk, ferrying us around, being there to swat us when we ventured beyond the limits of safety or decency.

Mary Jane Cooper was also a great mom. She took restless neighborhood kids and marshalled them into a fine little baseball team, and chaperoned us whenever we swam off her dock in Spanaway Lake. I'm sure that gave Mom a break she sorely needed. It truly does take a village to raise a child...

I watched (and helped sometimes) my sister raise her only son into a fine young man with good values, who shunned peer pressure as a matter of course and found a wife who is the apple of everyone's eye. Jackie was a great mom -- even though she has regrets because she wasn't a "perfect" mom. (Good gracious -- has there ever been a perfect mom?) She was as perfect for Phil as our mom was for us -- I can tell by the results! Perfect enough to grow a child (children) that more often than not make their parents proud!

I watch Wendy and Phil (Phil is Jackie's son) care for their two daughters with dedicated patience and grace and know the apple will not fall far from their tree, either...

Dawn's kids, Lizzie and Isabella, are growing into fine young people even as Dawn struggles as a single parent (as did Jackie) to keep their world as stable and as filled with love and nourishment as possible. In addition to holding down a job and the fort, she's getting the kids to school, to soccer, baseball, basketball, swimming and track, birthday parties, skiing, you name it (with the help of "the Foxley Village" during the hours she has to work, same as Jackie relied on the "Smith/McNiven Village as a single parent).

I watch these current parents doing their thing as parents and as creators of the next generation of thinking, caring people and I realize, with greater impact than ever, what it took for my Mom to do all of that for us -- long before cell phones and TV/DVD's in the SUV...

I remember a particular trip to Disneyland (1200 miles distant) where the endless, echoing refrain (every thirty miles of so) was, "Are we there yet?" For 1200 miles. Nowadays the kids can watch ten videos instead of playing "Slug Bug" and "I Spy," which they still do sometimes -- to the dismay of the drivers. Those games are important, too -- but not 1200 miles at a stretch.

I'm amazed the three of us Smith kids weren't drowned in the Adventureland Lagoon or thrown off the Matterhorn when we "finally" arrived at Disneyland.

It would have made Mom's and Dad's return trip a whole lot easier on their nerves and ears, for sure!!!

Gawd Awmighty!

Parents are unlike any other category on earth.

I stand utterly amazed...

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