Miss Phoebe, my darling Mother could not only lay down the rules and dare you to violate them, she was a teaching, disciplinarian as well. She had a way of having “her say;” with a distinguishing sharp tongue that telegraphed her sounds throughout your soul. Her words of discernment majestically floated from her mouth with relative ease tantamount to a sail boat gliding across Lake Washington.
I remember one day, my teenage mind was preoccupied; probably over some boy drama. I saw one of my Mother’s friends and forgot to speak. Before I could make the 10 minute journey back home, Miss Beauty had already reported my lack of politeness. Preparing dinner with a light blue scallop trimmed apron tied around her waist, my Mother called me into the kitchen. With piercing eyes that frightened me before she opened her mouth, she sternly said, “It doesn’t cost anything to speak,” along with a few other choice words to make sure that I truly understood the ramifications of what might occur upon a lack of adherence. “Don’t let it happen again!” Believe me; I never was called to the woodshed again …at least not for that infraction.
She had a plethora of many memorable, life changing clichés, but this next one stuck with me like a man that you don’t want to turn a loose. Not exactly a fitting example, but the “special effects” reference, I am sure brings home the point.
Momma said, “The same escalator that takes you up, brings you down. The same people that you see on your way up, you see coming down.” That statement was one of humility; one of not being lofty; one that resonates with me today. “Don’t let success swell your head. What goes up may come down,” she continued. “Keep your feet on the ground;” never feel that you are infallible was the theme of my Mother’s message. When we smell success and travel in its realms, we often times see a different set of people on our walk of fame. They are no better than the folks who walk the earthly grounds of a lower worldly status. Stay grounded, treat all people the same, and be appreciative of what you accomplish were my interpretations of Momma’s quotes. With the exception of greater auras of materialism that a higher income can buy, you are still the same person before success engulfed you.
I knew if I violated those cardinal rules, my Mother would roll her eyes at me with disdain. It’s amazing how much she knew and how far she could see. Speaking of telepathic vision, my Mother saw trouble before it came my way. It took me some time to understand that.
My words of wisdom to my children:
Although I probably wasn’t as effective with an indoctrination of healthy fear, (a grip that my Mother had on me), I tried to guide my children with the same Mother Wit. Haha…I hear them laughing! Of course to them, I am old fashioned and ultra conservative, but admittedly, they do listen.
I have two clichés that I am proud of fostering to my two darlings. Whether they are proud recipients of my inheritance of words remain to be seen. Their compliance will determine the effectiveness of my teachings. Listening and doing are two different things.
To my laid back son, my lips imparted, “Treat a woman like you want someone to treat your Mother and sister.” I pray that he religiously follow that simple instruction.
To my feisty daughter, read my lips, “Everything that you think, you need not say.” It’s been a long time coming, but it’s beginning to sink in. I believe that she is slowly getting the point.
The nectar from a Mother’s lips produces the sweetness from the soul of her maternal instinct and wisdom. As good children, we never want her words to be bitterly tarnished. In an echoing tone, my Mother would utter in her stern, but loving voice, “Do what I say, if you know what’s good for you.” Decades later, I still hear you Momma, loud and clear! “I get it!” I hope my children will do likewise and become obedient stewards to my teachings; I hope that they follow suit! They better or else!
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