A Place For Everything and Everything in its Place was one of my Mother's favorite saying. We used to tease her that this is what we would put that on her grave stone. Coming from a big family and a poor rural household during the depression- she took great pride in an orderly home. Her standards were high for house and home.
For me, Mom was always there. She was the sympathetic ear that I could cry or complain too. She was the one that stayed with us after Natalie was born and would rock her in the middle of the night so that Ron and I could get back to sleep. She was the one that would drive up from Salem to Portland to help with Natalie after Grant had a surgery. She would scour my sink, clean the crumbs out of my drawers, use boiling water to get the red wine stain out of the tablecloths, she would launder and iron the pile of napkins for me after our big family Christmas dinners. She showed me the correct way to set a table and even for the most casual meal she had it set per Emily Post. She taught me to soak my dishcloth in boiling water and a little bleach. She told me to keep two towels in the kitchen one for drying your dishes and one for your hands and don’t you dare mix them up.
She was the one that taught me to bring a gift to the hostess- generally a bottle of wine, and when staying with a friend while traveling always treat them to dinner or lunch at least once during your visit and don't forget the thank you note. When you drop off a friend at their door, but sure to wait in your car and watch to make sure that they get safely into their house. When guests leave your home always walk them to your door and stand at the doorstep and wave goodbye untile they pull out of the driveway.
Her example was to take delight in the simple things, holding a baby in your arms, petting a puppy or kitten, the smell of warm potting soil as she planted her flowering annuals, a strong cup of tea, a great piece of chocolate (okay any piece of chocolate), a freshly picked ear of corn (from Veal's fruit stand), watching silly British sit-com on PBS, a delicious lunch with a glass of wine and great conversation-catch up with a friend. Every year she looked forward to the blossoming of the trees and hoped that the Oregon rain would stay away long enough to let the flowers endure. Whether driving out to winery where Natalie and Blake were married, stopping at a fruit stand for peaches, or admiring the fields of iris’, she loved the beauty of the Willamette Valley and continued to marvel at it.
My Mother was always a lady. Her hair was always perfectly coifed and I would often get impatient with the time she spent fussing with her hair as we were heading out the door. And as beautiful as she was she hated to get her picture taken- it made her self-conscious ~ you could see it in her tense smile. She won’t go out without her lint brush and I would often be annoyed with her picking bits of lint and dog hair off of me. Sadly, I did not inherit my Mother’s lady-like qualities. I am the Oscar to her Felix.
We were fortunate to share many of the same interests and passions… a good book, live theater, foreign films, baking, and one of our favorites … ice cream and I remember how she could not get enough Rum Raisin when I introduced her to Hagen Daz back in the early 80's. Having had mostly ice milk (can you still buy ice milk??) growing up in the 60's and 70's the Hagen Daz took her back to the hand churned concoctions her grandfather made.
My Mom and I grew particularly close after my father died and I was in my mid-teens. I remember one evening at home with Mom we started to talk about Barbara Streisands’ lastest album, before you know it we were running to Fred Meyer to buy it and then we had fun stopping at the make-up counter and making a few purchases. One night, I didn’t want to see my Mom sit home alone so I asked my boyfriend at the time if he would mind if we brought Mom along on our date. She sat at the back seat of the car at the drive-in. It was a double feature and by the time the second show started Mom had fallen asleep in the backseat and Jeff and I were making out in the front!
A lesson that Mom taught me happen right after I get my driver license. I was backing out of a parking lot just and I crashed right into another car. The other driver was outraged and began screaming at me. I was so scared and flustered I couldn’t find my insurance information. As it happened Mom was working across the street from the lot. I ran across the street to get the insurance information from my Mom. I was sobbing by the time I reached her and blurted out about the accident. She stopped and asked me if I was okay and I said yes, than she asked if anyone was hurt and I said no. She said, "Lisa that is why we have insurance- and as long as no one was hurt- it is just money". Instead of being upset with me, as I had feared, she comforted and reassured me and help me to understand priorities.
At my house there is not a place for everything, and everything is definitely not in its place. There is lint on my clothes, and probably a stain or two, my hair doesn’t always look perfect either, and I may not always use all the utensils at the dinner table, but I hope- I believe- that the best of my Mom, her love and values are a part of me and the rest of her family that she loved and cared for so much. I saw them in my children while they helped care for my Mother these last few months and she was so proud and thankful for their love and empathy. This is my Mother’s legacy.