Opinion: A toast to mothers everywhere

May 8, 2020

Courtesy of the Hill Family

From left, Rocky, Tami Jo, Brian, seated Quo Vada and Ralph Hill.

Mother’s Day is here. Blessing to all mothers reading this and a special tribute to the women who mothered me in my life.

 

People who reach adulthood and still have their mothers, alive and healthy are blessed beyond understanding. Children’s joy derived from loving their grandmothers is intense. I have noticed how otherwise rational people seem to lose their minds when a baby enters the room. That doesn’t happen to me. Do you want to hold the baby? Is one of the scariest questions ever asked. I never want to, and that will often offend the little tyke’s parents.

 

I knew from a fairly young age that motherhood was not going to be in my future. I performed enough babysitting gigs in high school to confirm my decision. Many people told me there would come a time I would regret not having children. It hasn’t happened yet. There are too many people on the planet and pardon me if I feel a bit smug because I haven’t added to the population.

 

I am very grateful for the mothering I have received from a host of amazing women, some related by blood, others family by choice.

 

My mother was an amazing woman. She had a flair for the paranormal and once told her conservative Church of Christ minister in about 1971 that astrology was a science to be studied not a religion to believe in. During my junior and senior years in high school she and Ross Thornton produced a weekly radio show titled “Astro-Analysis,” by Quo Vada. It broadcast on Madera’s AM radio station K-HOT. She also cast personalized horoscopes for people based not only on the day they were born but the exact time of birth if the information was available.

 

It is a tragedy she didn’t live long enough to embrace the Internet. She would have loved it.

She always said her name was Apache Indian meaning second daughter of the chief. I’ve never met another Quo Vada.

 

When a mother and daughter are too much alike trust that the mother will drive the daughter crazy. At least in our case. I’m not sure what I expected of her, but it seemed we were often at cross purposes.

 

I have so much to be grateful for, courtesy of my mother. My love of reading and writing came from her. We spent hours in the Madera County Library. We visited the library every other week. She would check out six books and have them all read by about day 9.

 

At a young age I learned that if I was reading, she wouldn’t interrupt me except for the most mandatory chores that needed doing.

 

A creative person, she could make anything with her Singer treadle sewing machine. For years my father tried to get her to agree to a new electric sewing machine. She refused, insisting she and her Singer thought and sewed at the same speed.

 

She could turn bathroom curtains into an angel costume and then back into curtains the following day.

 

One hot summer afternoon my oldest brother, Rocky, brought home a bunch of onion sacks from his job as a box boy at Morris and Hass Market.

 

“Ma, we need a volleyball net,” he said.

 

In less time than it took for the boys to dig the holes and erect a couple of poles, the boys had their volleyball net.

 

When I was a girl and talked about being a grownup so no one could boss me around she told me to stay little as long as I could because once I was a grownup, I would be a grownup a really long time.

 

Considering she and my father were married between her junior and senior year in high school I think she regretted missing her last year of childhood.

 

She said her life plan was to have two boys and once they were in school to have two more sons. She felt comfortable with the notion of raising sons because she adored taking care of her younger brothers.

 

She told me that at about the six-month mark in her pregnancy she started think it might be nice to have a daughter.

 

When I was about five or six my dad’s sister Bonnie Edge showed up at our house on Martin street. She had left an abusive marriage and her life in Chicago behind. Whichever gene allowed me to grow to 5 foot 10 inches must have come from my mother’s side of the family. Aunt Bonnie was four foot nothing and quite the spitfire. She cooked and cleaned for us when my mother was in the hospital. She lived in Madera the rest of her life. When my dad died, I buried her cremains in the casket with him.

 

I got a sympathy card from her daughter when dad died. I called to thank my cousin and I told her about her mother’s cremains. You see when Bonnie died, I asked her three kids what I should do with her cremains. The daughter asked if I would take care of the ashes. I assured her I would.

 

When I told her daughter what I had done she was stunned.

 

“You asked me to take care of them,” I said.

 

“Yeah five years ago,” she said!

 

During that period my Aunt Bonnie occupied my liquor cabinet, a place she would have loved.

 

My Aunt Nada Kirk had a big influence on my life. The nearly unconditional love of a parent helps to instill confidence and poise into a person.

 

In my household adults were addressed by their surname or if they were very close friends, they were called by the honorific of aunt and uncle.

 

My Aunt Mary DalCerro was a woman very close to my heart. Her son Jeff was my very best friend from the time were could walk until we started elementary school. I went to James Monroe and he went to Washington Elementary. He was about six months younger than me and furious that I got to go to school when he had to wait another year to start kindergarten. There were no Pre-K programs in 1960.

 

Jeff and I remain close friends even after all these years.

 

• • •

 

Cherish your mothers or your memories of them and have a blessed Mother’s Day.

 

Long days and pleasant nights, have a great weekend.

 

• • •

 

Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing tamijonix@gmail.com or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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