By Shelley Devine
She could comfort with one manicured finger lightly tracing the rim of my ear, and with the same digit signal a spanking was imminent should I sass. She never went anywhere without putting on “her face”, and never went to bed without cold-creaming it off. She never swore, but did flip the bird once at a guy who almost killed us running a stop sign. She modeled that it is better to be nice than to be right, but not better to lie than tell the truth as nicely as possible. We would dance in the dark on the deep-pile shag carpet, the red dot on the stereo our only light, while her soprano harmonized with Glen Campbell or The Jackson 5. She told or read me bedtime stories long after I had become addicted to books because of it, and by the age of 10 I was reading not only the Agatha Christie’s and Daphne Du Maurer’s she would trade me but the ones I discovered under her bed, like The Happy Hooker and The Sensuous Woman by J. She hummed, she talked to herself, she sang Amazing Grace and Holy, Holy, Holy while doing the dishes. She hid Reese’s Peanut Butter cups under the seat of her car and made waffles in the middle of the night. She called her parents regularly and never had a bad thing to say about them. She told me I was smart, she told me I was beautiful, she laughed at my jokes, she listened and she remembered. She was my Girl Scout leader, she sewed my halloween costumes, she answered my question “Do you love Dad more than me?” with “I love you both equally, just differently” and “Do you believe in God?” with “Yes, and God believes in us.”
There is no way to think of the word “Woman” without thinking of the woman who defined it for me then, and does still. Happy Birthday, Mom.