Oddments

In search of story


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Connections: August 13.17

My family’s in the garden

the past grows ever green

my mom is in the phlox

most surely, though unseen

her dad in the tomatoes

my green-thumbed Grandpa Mauck

son of North Carolina

whose hills rolled in his talk

Grandma O’Hern in moss roses

her summer’s tried-and-true

her son, my dad, in marigold

(the only flower he knew!)

the dill for an unknown

its air a bit of mystery

but I know it figures somewhere

in my leafy family history

I don’t come (as they say) from money

I come more from dirt

so it’s good to feel them back

in horticultural concert.

 

 

 

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Connections: November 14.16

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s my mother’s birthday

she would be 98!

she died before she aged

I try to think that’s great.

Of all the things of hers I kept

this makes me laugh and cry

if you know what this treasure is

then you’re as old as I.

Evelyn Mauck O’Hern¬† 11/14/1918 – 6/19/1996

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Connections: May 29

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAMy mother was smart and pretty

and had an amazing green thumb

but in discourse she lacked patience,

going quickly to “That’s just dumb!”

Now we’re besmirched by campaign

(deliver us from such another!)

and I hear myself too often

quoting my prescient mother.

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Connections: January 7

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERATen-HUT!

Chin UP!

Chest OUT!

No lay-about!

Nostrils flared!

Oak fangs bared!

Nothing dreaded,

level-headed!

Sears-Roebuck faithful

snarling and wraithful

single-pawed

iron-jawed,

sentry and friend

to unseen end.

A century’s guard

in service unmarred

to Unkown, then Pauline,

then Catherine, then Maureen.

Generations align

in family sign:

my great-grandma’s

my grandma’s

now mine.

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Face value

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Just another pretty face? I don’t think so.

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Can you look at a pansy and not be smitten by the pretty face before you? There is no “just” about it; it is mesmerizing in its velvety contour and coquettish symmetry. And what about that radiant depth of purple and magenta? Westminster never saw the like.

Unbidden, a Mom memory pops up as I contemplate prettiness: my mother told me I was not a pretty baby. Really now. Aren’t mothers supposed to deal in superlatives? As in My baby is the¬†prettiest/cutest/smartest? She said I was a sweet baby. Sweet? Sweet never set anyone on a path to fame and fortune! Who wants to be sweet?

I had long been aware that my mother was disappointed in my looks. She SO wanted a Ginger Rogers, but she got me. I had no idea — until advanced adulthood — that she hadn’t even thought I was a pretty baby.

Life has introduced me to many other women who tell similar stories: their mothers were disappointed in them and made it known. What’s up with that? Why the heaping tablespoon of daily criticism?

I have read that in some traditions mothers call their daughters horrible things in order to keep the devil away. Mom’s mom never had a kind word to say to or about her — was she protecting Mom from the devil? Do I wear the amulet of generations of harsh words? If so, its power will protect my female descendants into perpetuity.

A mother’s approval is not a jinx. The pansies and I say so.

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