I miss my Mom. It’s been six months, sometimes feeling like six years, sometimes like six minutes. Don’t care much if this is too personal. I’ll do a few special private things to help get over those little hurdles (a big one coming up–St. Paddy’s Day). Anywho, I thought I’d pen one thing for each year she was alive. She taught some with words, some by example, and some by regret.
Items marked with an asterisk are likely a product of being born in 1926.
So here are 84 things I learned from my mother:
1. Seashells are treasures.
2. How to read.
3. How to love reading.
4. That it’s better to age gracefully. (No real advice on how to do that.)
5. Only whores wear red nail polish.*
6. Only whores wear red shoes.*
7. Fish and company smell after three days.
8. If you lose something, pray to St. Anthony.
9. Nothing truly good ever came of alcohol consumption.
10. The Virgin Mary won’t appear to you if you ask her not to. (This was actually a fear of mine as a child.)
11. Don’t plant your garden until Mother’s Day.
12. With your last dollar, feed the birds.
13. Listen to every major opera and ballet, more than once. Be able to identify them.
14. The world is going to hell in a handbasket.
15. There can never be too many episodes of Cops. (We differed on this one.)
16. The best looking actor, ever, was Gregory Peck. (I agree.)
17. If you bang yourself, rub it hard and the pain will go away quicker.
18. There are only Maryland crabcakes.
19. A good therapist is worth his/her weight in gold.
20. Some are born to be moms. It’s okay if you aren’t one of them.
21. Don’t marry a man expecting that he’ll change.
22. Don’t have a baby to keep a man.
23. It can take a lifetime to love yourself.
24. It can take a lifetime to learn to express yourself.
25. Anything you grow yourself tastes better.
26. Shake your rugs out front so everyone knows you’re cleaning.
27. Your rugs are the only dirty thing to air out front.
28. Remember that there is pain in every household. Forgive people.
29. You’re lucky if you go to your grave having had one good friend.
30. You’re stronger than you think.
31. Math sucks. (Not her words precisely).
32. Egyptology is cool.
33. Ghosts exist.
34. The Catholic Church can let you down, but it doesn’t mean you should lose faith.
35. Sunshine on laundry is the nicest smell.
36. Always write a thank you note.
37. Always greet a new acquaintance with “How do you do?”
38. If you are a child, stand when introduced to an adult. If you are a man, stand when introduced to anyone.
39. Football died the day the Colts left Baltimore.
40. Don’t buy what you can’t afford. If you’re buying on credit, you probably can’t afford it. (I forgot this one until recently.)
41. Honor your promises. (Hmnn.)
42. Always root for Navy and for Notre Dame.
43. You’re never too old for silliness.
44. Cats are funny.
45. Dogs are annoying.
46. Sprinkle your ironing with water and put it in the refrigerator.*
47. Don’t put fruit in stuffing. It’s just wrong.
48. People in nursing homes can skip purgatory–they’ve done their time already.
49. Trust everything a doctor says.* (She changed this at the end of her life.)
50. Clowns are troublesome. Avoid them.
51. It’s not going to kill you to be barefoot in the snow for a few minutes, as long as you’re doing it to feed the birds.
52. When leaves turn upside down, it’s going to rain.
53. Cherish the lonely season of late Fall.
54. Old movies are the best.
55. Learn to play an instrument.
56. Don’t drop in on anyone without calling first.
57. Wearing black makes you look older.
58. Don’t put liner under your eyes–you’ll look like white trash. (Her words, not mine.)
59. Pray each night for those in anguish.
60. Even bums on the street had moms. Be nice to them.
61. Don’t open the door after dark.
62. Don’t talk back to your parents.
63. A little coffee is a good thing.
64. Ten minutes of studying in the morning is better than an hour at night when you’re tired. (This has actually been proven in recent studies.)
65. Send postcards any time you travel.
66. Call when you get home.
67. Make sure you tip the garbage man and the ice man at Christmas.*
68. Wear Chanel #5.
69. Slippers are for weak people.
70. Walk on an isolated beach to speak with God.
71. Worry is part of the human condition.
72. The Germans are ruthless people.*
73. The Middle Ages are fascinating.
74. Tell stories, lots of them.
75. Listen as if you care, whether you do or not.
76. Don’t hang up on someone to take another call.
77. Use the good china and silver every day.
78. Give alms to the poor.
79. Be able to recite many famous poems.
80. Put an orange in the bottom of a Christmas stocking.*
81. Read all the history you can.
82. Write your memoirs before it is too late. (Alas…)
83. Believe in miracles.
84. Believe we’ll meet again.