Remembering Maggie on Mother’s Day

 

shutterstock_157871030Were she here, she’d be 103 years old this Mother’s Day. I know, you’re never supposed to mention a lady’s age. Maggie, however, was no lady. She was our mom. Of course, “mom” was only one of the hats she wore. She was the CEO (in absentia) of my father’s real estate business. Long before women’s lib became the rage, he was wise enough to never make a decision without consulting her. When she wasn’t running the business, she was hitting backhands down the line; sending golf balls up the fairway; bidding one no trump with the girls; bringing the haughty down to earth with a well-placed wise crack; running our ranch, The Lazy J; raising three boys; and keeping a sharp eye on the clock for when those TV dinners were due to come out of the oven.

When you live at the end of a mile-long dirt road, and the pipes freeze during the frosts; the power goes off during the storms; the cars get stuck in the mud; and the neighbors are calling because the cattle are continually breaking through the fences, the Ozzie and Harriet days of the ’50s — back in the cozy Piedmont neighborhood where the most daunting task was getting a sitter so you could head out to the Berkeley tennis club — look pretty good.

How she ever put up with her husband, Jim Pop, leaving the city and moving to the Lazy J is beyond me. She gave up her friends and her life so he could live his and raise his boys in the country. Instead of shopping with her girlfriends and attending teas, she had to put up with the manure on the boots; the flies from the cattle and horses; the blood and feathers from slaughtering the chickens in the basement; the wail of the peacocks; the training and feeding of the dogs and cats; bottle feeding the lambs; nursing the animals at all hours of the night; even the fear of being trapped by raging fire. It was called life in the country—where the closest people were a mile away and where the howl of the coyotes let you know you were never alone at night.

She had nothing to complain about though. Not one of those rattle snakes she killed ever bit her, though they did on occasion get a dog or two.

Through it all, she raised three boys by virtue of the simple “stink eye” (a raised eyebrow and a look that would have brought Atlas to his knees) and an occasional ahem, ahem — the feared clearing of the throat. No matter what we were doing as kids, as soon as we heard that sound — EH AHEEEEM — we knew it was time to stand up for a lady, shake hands and look someone in the eye, excuse ourselves properly from the table, pull out a chair for a lady, or use our knife and fork properly.

We were told what was proper behavior; then a simple clearing of the throat reminded us what to do. I don’t know what the punishment was for failure to comply, but none of us wanted to find out. She was one of those women who just commanded respect.

She was part of a vanishing breed — but just like all the mothers I knew back then. A woman whom men respected and children loved and obeyed.

She wasn’t our best friend. We were to have friends our own age. She had a job to do: raise three boys to follow and honor the code. We weren’t allowed to take ourselves seriously. We were to follow the rules. Do our chores. Get our grades. Be willing to compete. And perform as adults. Bringing boys to manhood and good citizenship was considered serious work once. Asking a mother back then “Do you work?” would have been considered one of the dumbest queries of all time.

Maggie did it via sarcasm, teasing, humor, and love. She was hardly a modern gal. Today, when she and her pals sit down for that weekly game of bridge in heaven, I hope, between deals, they’ll lift a glass and toast themselves. They done good. Happy Mother’s day to a generation of women who did it right.

 

There are 9 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Jack Dunphy Contributor
    Jack Dunphy
    @JackDunphy

    Beautiful, Jeffrey. Thank you.

    • #1
  2. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    Jack Dunphy:

    Beautiful, Jeffrey. Thank you.

     Thank you, Jack.  They were an amazing generation.  We aren’t likely to see their ilk again.

    • #2
  3. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Makes me wish your folks had adopted me.

    • #3
  4. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    Kay of MT:

    Makes me wish your folks had adopted me.

     Kay, you always make me smile.  Happy Mothers Day

    • #4
  5. Kay of MT Inactive
    Kay of MT
    @KayofMT

    Well, I asked your grandpa once if he would adopt me, and he just smiled and gave me a hug. He let me in his chambers one time when I was wandering around the court house, I was about 10 years old, and let me listen in. I have no memory of who the other people were or what was being discussed. I got bored and wanted to leave but he gave me a look that kept me sitting still and quiet. Your mom must have learned that look from him. After everybody left he gave me permission to leave, and invited me back at any time. I never went back, Yee gads, all that yacky yack about did me in!

    Thank you for the Mother’s Day wish. It’s been a good day.

    • #5
  6. PsychLynne Inactive
    PsychLynne
    @PsychLynne

    What a lovely tribute.  Maggie sounds absolutely wonderful!

    “She wasn’t our best friend. We were to have friends our own age.”

    I think the way to have a relationship with your adult children where they want to see you, where they value your opinion, and where you are a parent/friend, is by not being their friend when they are young or teenagers.  

    • #6
  7. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    PsychLynne:

    What a lovely tribute. Maggie sounds absolutely wonderful!

    “She wasn’t our best friend. We were to have friends our own age.”

    I think the way to have a relationship with your adult children where they want to see you, where they value your opinion, and where you are a parent/friend, is by not being their friend when they are young or teenagers.

     I couldn’t agree with you more.  Thanks for the note

    • #7
  8. flownover Inactive
    flownover
    @flownover

    Lovely.
    My mother, who probably considered a life in NYC as a model, married my father after years of his entreaties and pleading, to move to a smallish midwestern town. She had the arched eyebrow as well ( a Lutheran mal occhio I imagine from a Swede) and could freeze my blood across the room. While we didn’t live on a farm ( midwestern for ranch) she put up with the animals, the blood, the guns, and the injuries from boys in trees, creeks, cliffs, and rooftops. 3 boys and a girl , we dragged our sister along early for her help in digging holes and later for her pretty friends. 
    Lord I miss her and thank you for the occasion to state to that. 
    The bridge games, the dresses , the merry circle of friends  partying before the cloud of MADD , music always, mexican tans , prePETA outerwear, Borsalino hats, Spike Jones after Edie Gorme, cherry blends in pipes, women in gloves, guns leaning behind the door , Sunday school ,  viewed from a foot  lower than the participants.  Happy  in retrospect,  conservative  in reality ,prosperous  in comparison . Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon , Johnson proud to be  president and proud of their country.

    • #8
  9. jeffearlwarren@gmail.com Contributor
    jeffearlwarren@gmail.com
    @JeffreyEarlWarren

    flownover:

    Lovely. My mother, who probably considered a life in NYC as a model, married my father after years of his entreaties and pleading, to move to a smallish midwestern town. She had the arched eyebrow as well ( a Lutheran mal occhio I imagine from a Swede) and could freeze my blood across the room. While we didn’t live on a farm ( midwestern for ranch) she put up with the animals, the blood, the guns, and the injuries from boys in trees, creeks, cliffs, and rooftops. 3 boys and a girl , we dragged our sister along early for her help in digging holes and later for her pretty friends. Lord I miss her and thank you for the occasion to state to that. The bridge games, the dresses , the merry circle of friends partying before the cloud of MADD , music always, mexican tans , prePETA outerwear, Borsalino hats, Spike Jones after Edie Gorme, cherry blends in pipes, women in gloves, guns leaning behind the door , Sunday school , viewed from a foot lower than the participants. Happy in retrospect, conservative in reality ,prosperous in comparison . Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon , Johnson proud to be president and proud of their country.

     FANTASTIC.  ELOQUENT.  CAPTURED PERFECTLY.

    • #9
Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.