2. She always kept my hair short as a kid because I wouldn’t let her come near me with a brush.
3. I remember watching her bathe my baby brother. I was only three and the baby tub was up on a counter so all I could see was the sunshine coming through the green plastic and his skinny silhouette, but I was struck by her love for him and that made me feel very loved also.
4. She is a fighter.
5. She fought the Southern Baptist Convention tooth and nail in the 1980s, staying for the convention even after they canceled her hotel reservations and turned off the microphone when she rose to speak.
6. She only slapped me once. I deserved it that day and plenty of other times as well.
7. She was a great Girl Scout leader, but she got annoyed with the grownup politics.
8. She always fabulously overdoes Christmas.
9. She made me King Ranch Chicken on the day I graduated from high school.
10. She has told me, for as long as I could remember, that I should be a writer.
11. She should have been (and wanted to be) a preacher.
12. She would have been a brilliant attorney. One of her undergraduate professors told her to apply to law school but she laughed at the idea.
13. I was much too frightened to follow my calling (writing) so I tried to follow one of Momma’s callings (the law).
14. In her fifties she went to seminary and blossomed until a chronic medical condition sidelined her dream.
15. She bought her grandchildren so many baby clothes that they often outgrew them before they had a chance to wear them.
16. She was in the room when both my children came into this world.
17. She was in the room when her dad left this world.
18. When my son was a toddler, she told him bedtime stories about “Prince Dennis.”
19. My teenage daughter talks to my mom about a lot of things and wishes she could spend more time with her.
20. There’s a look I apparently get on my face when I mean business. My daughter says it’s intimidating and calls it my “Marmi Look.” I remember it from my own childhood. It always serves its purpose.
21. She reads constantly.
22. She made almost all of my semi-formals and formals for my high school dances. I still get goosebumps when I remember going to look at the bolts of taffeta and satin at the fabric store with her.
23. There was never any question about whether I would register for everyday and fine china, crystal, and sterling silver flatware when I planned my wedding.
24. I called her multiple times every day during the first 18 months that I was a mother.
25. She nursed me, in 1971, when most mothers went straight to formula.
26. Her favorite flower is the daisy.
27. She refused to say she would obey my dad during her marriage vows.
28. She was a stay-at-home mom until she went to graduate school so she could help teach my brilliant, dyslexic brother when our school district refused to help him.
29. She became a Montessori teacher. People clamored for her to tutor their children.
30. She fought hard to support friends who needed her support, but sometimes they let her down.
31. She couldn’t wait to be a grandmother.
32. She allowed her hair to go silver naturally.
33. She loves Walt Disney World, and imparted that passion to me. She also adores college football but failed to pass that passion to me.
34. I knew every word to every single Neil Diamond and Willie Nelson song because of her.
35. On rainy days she encouraged me to go out barefoot and take a duck walk.
36. For years, she made me fruit crepes with homemade whipped cream for my birthday breakfast.
37. We always had nice, wrapped gifts for Valentine’s Day.
38. She wouldn’t let me give up piano during the time of year I was preparing for “Guild” (performing in front of judges—lots and lots of memorization and work). She always said that if I still wanted to quit after it was over, I could. I never did.
39. She quilts beautifully and we have countless Marmi creations in our home.
40. She teaches Sunday School.
41. She will scream loudly at the TV when football players, coaches, or politicians screw up.
42. She kept the most amazing closet of art supplies.
43. She helped our cocker spaniel give birth to puppies.
44. She told me to stop running because I kept breaking my ankles. She said it was time to find a new sport.
45. She also told me to stop running from my past. I’m still working on that one.
46. She didn’t like my high school boyfriend and was spot on with her analysis. That pissed me off at the time. She immediately knew that David was perfect for me. Again—spot on.
47. I’m 97.4 percent sure Momma knows (or at least suspects) all my secrets. I’m 100 percent sure she loves me anyway.
48. She wrote to me constantly when I was at college. I recently came across my box of letters and decided that when my kids go off to college I’ll do the same thing. I hope they remember to check their mailboxes.
49. She can’t stand The Great Gatsby but loves To Kill A Mockingbird.
50. I know that she’s thinking of me, or my brother, or one of our spouses or kids right this very second even though I haven’t spoken to her yet today.
This is an edited reprint of a post that first appeared at Jennifer Reck’s blog, Two Steps Forward, One Step Back, in response to Slate’s prompt on the award-winning essay Fifty Things About My Mother by Makes You Mom publisher Laura Lynn Brown.
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