I Remember Mama

I Remember Mama

I Remember Mama (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Item 1:  Whether or not you’re a mom, no doubt, you’re somebody’s child, which is why I’m hoping you’ll check out a post I submitted this week to the Huffington Post. I call it,

The Best Mom, Probably

Why? Because my son, in his infinite wisdom, didn’t want to go out on a limb and call me the best mom in a text he sent me to wish me a happy Mother’s Day. No doubt, he was afraid I might get an inflated ego over it.

Of course, little did he know, telling me I was “probably” the best mom was enough to drive me crazy and I set out to discover what exactly he meant. I first wrote the post when I started blogging, but it’s perfect for Mother’s Day, so, please read it–and comment!

My son, during a trip to Venezuela, with Tia Olga, who passed away earlier this year.

Item 2:  This time of year, it’s easy for me to get all teary-eyed and start waxing poetic. This is because I lost my mother 18 years ago this month. Plus, I’m a romantic at heart and, as such, I’m prone to getting sentimental at the drop of a hat.

For years, my mother and I had a Mother’s Day tradition of watching I Remember Mama, one of our favorite films. (FYI: Turner Classic Movies usually carries it around this time.) It’s sappy as all heck but don’t you dare make fun of it because to me, it’s such a tear jerker. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. It’s got everything–pathos, humor, suffering, a cat that dies then comes back to life, a crazy uncle who yells a lot, and a mysterious boarder who’s into reading. Add to that, a hard-working, ready-to-sacrifice-all-for-her-family kind of mother. It’s classic!

I Remember Mama, made in 1948, stars Irene Dunne as the matriarch of a Norwegian family, living in San Francisco, circa 1910. It is narrated by Katrin, the eldest daughter and an aspiring writer (Trivia: She’s played by Barbara Bel Geddes–Miss Ellie from the original Dallas series!). Here’s how Katrin introduces her mother–and the reason I start blubbering as soon as I see the opening credits:

“For as long as I could remember, the small cottage on Castro Street had been home. The familiar background was there; Mama, Papa, my only brother, Nels. There was my sister Christine, closest to me in age, yet ever secret and withdrawn — and the littlest sister, Dagmar.

“There, too came the Aunts, Mama’s four sisters. Aunt Jenny, who was the oldest and the bossiest; Aunt Sigrid; Aunt Marta; and our maiden Aunt, Trina. The Aunts’ old bachelor uncle, my Great-uncle Chris — the ‘black Norwegian’ — came with his great impatience, his shouting and stamping. And brought mystery and excitement to our humdrum days.

“But most of all, I remember Mama.”

Item 3: My mother had five sisters and one brother. Now, only one sister, Tia Livia, remains. Tia Olga, the second to youngest, died earlier this year. She was kind and gentle and deeply spiritual. She was the only one who never married nor had children. In her final years, living in Venezuela with no income of her own, it was the nieces and nephews who took care of her, making sure she had all she needed. I sent her what I could, including chocolates from the states and the latest issues of Reader’s Digest, one of her favorite magazines that she enjoyed reading in English. I loved her so much and miss her dearly.

Item 4: One of my favorite bloggers is Deborah Batterman. She writes honestly and with humor, and has a knack for making me laugh. In a recent post on her blog, The Things She Things About, Deborah wrote about her mother and how she once phoned Deborah, when Deborah was living in New York City, from their home in New Jersey, and left the following message on the answering machine:

“Close your window, there’s something coming from Jersey.”

Reading that made me fall over in a heap of giggles. What was coming from Jersey? Sounded dangerous and wicked! Well, you’ll have to read Deborah’s blog to find out more.

Deborah has also written a collection of essays titled, Because My Name is Mother.  Laced with humor, tenderness, and a bit of nostalgia, you’ll find these stories quite enjoyable, and, best of all, they’re now available for Kindle for only $0.99! A bargain, if you ask me, and makes for a great Mother’s Day gift for just about anyone!

Back to Item 1: It’s the not knowing why my son said I was “probably” the best mom that gets me and, frankly, I can’t stop thinking about it. In any case, though I might “probably” be the best mom, one thing’s certain: I know I’m the luckiest mom, for I have two great kids.  Kids that I never took to the tanning salon, nor left naked in the car while I ran errands. So, Josh and Sarah, if you’re reading this, you’re welcome. I didn’t torture you and that, if you ask me, ought to deserve more than a “probably.”

But, Readers, I’ll let you decide. Read my story in the Huffington Post, and then be sure to let me know what you think!

So, Happy Mother’s Day!

Now, how about you? What do your kids do to show you their love?

36 thoughts on “I Remember Mama

  1. Happy belated Mother’s Day Monica. As always you made me laugh. I loved your huff post. Tia Olga looks so sweet and you have such a handsome son. I think you’re amazing and I admire you so much for raising such responsible and conscientious children. My hat off to you…

    My 6 yr old, (I swear has the mind of a 20 yr old) says to me quite regularly that I am her most favorite mum – and I wonder if she thinks her teacher is also sort of her mum because she sometimes calls me by her name. Um, I always turn around and say, oh but darling, I am your only mum. Yes mummy I know, she says, but you’re still my favorite 🙂
    Oh well, at least I try 🙂 she cracks me up. It is interesting that one word in a sentence by my child can really spin me around sigh!!! mine are only 9 and 6 1/2 🙂

  2. Happy Mother’s Day Monica. You’re certainly a great mother. No one can compare his mother to other’s mothers. It doesn’t make sense. A mother is UNIQUE, Using the word “Best” involves comparison, and in this context, comparison has no room!

  3. Monica, you are a gladiator, woman! You’ve raised your children as a single mom, encouraged them to get an education, reinvented yourself and stayed sane through it all. If that doesn’t make you a GREAT mom, I don’t know what does! Methinks your son is teasing you! hee hee! I’m glad you wrote about Tia Olga. That photo of your son and her is wonderful! Happy Mother’s day, chica! 🙂

    • Bella, Thank you for saying that. I have tried hard and Lord knows it hasn’t always been easy. But it certainly was all worth it. Hope you’re having a great day. It’s beautiful here in Seattle and soon I’ll be going home and catching up on blogs I follow. 🙂

  4. Ah, Monica, don’t beat yourself up over that “probably.” Every child, deep down, thinks his/her mom is the world’s best (once we pass the Terrible Twos and those awful middle school years!). Your son sounds like mine — the love is there, it’s just hard for them to express it. Pat yourself on the back for raising two great kids; sorry to hear about your own mom, though. Mine is getting older, and I don’t even want to think about what it’s going to be like without her. Happy Moms’ Day, my friend!

  5. You are such a romantic. I hadn’t thought about that movie in years. I am sorry about your mom. I don’t always celebrate my own mother’s day (OK never) because I fly to see my mom and celebrate the day with her. She’s 72 and I figure I need to spend as much time as I can with her… Such a tender and lovely post. Happy Mama’s Day, Monica, you are the kindest woman I’ve had the pleasure of meeting virtually.

  6. If only you hadn’t made him wear the purple nightgown. Nix the nightgown, and you would have had “world’s best mom” all sewn up. (Hilarious, Monica!) Hope you have a great weekend in Seattle!

    • Kathy, it’s the purple nightgown that put me over the edge, from best mom to probably, especially since I knew his favorite color was green! I’m still in Seattle and loving it!

  7. My mother had three siblings (each of whom married more than once), and the apartment I grew up in was a virtual revolving door. (One day I’ll share an essay, ‘The Kitchen Table,’ to give you the full picture.) I loved the spirit of your Huff Post piece, so different from this appropriately nostalgic one. Very gratifying for me to be included here. I think our mothers are smiling . . .:-)

    • Deborah, I’m so glad you found this post. I’ve been out of town and have not been able to tell you about it so I’m thrilled you saw it on your own. I’m still away so it’s been hard to respond to comments, but I so appreciate every one, including yours. Happy Mother’s Day!

  8. Over in this neck of the woods we have Mothers day at a different time of year.
    My mum (Note here we say mum not mom) lives a few doors away from us and has for the last 17 years.
    You only get one mother and that mother should always be the best of all. Now I realise in this world we live that some women are lousy mothers maybe not because they intend to be but they just don’t have the mother instinct, whatever that is.
    I get the impression from looking at your son’s picture that you get a crick in the neck looking up to him. He looks a fine man and I am sure your rightly proud of him and I am sure that you are to him the best mom in the world.
    As always an excellent posting from you and I am so pleased that I discovered your blog not so long ago, it’s an oasis of quality in a sea of blogging dross.

    • Robert, I cannot thank you enough for your kind words. I’m always glad to see you stop by and appreciate your comments very much. You’ve made me smile with your words.

  9. Yes, Monica, “I Remember Mama” is soon to air on TCM and I have my DVR set to record. Many many years ago there also used to be a regular TV Series of the same title, with the wonderful Peggy Wood in the title role. Another great post, leaving us all to remember and treasure our own Mama Moments in Life, so precious and fleeting, hardly of the misty-water color memories variety, but more HD in blazing color. It’s so very difficult to lose a mother. I remember Mama: She’s with me always.

  10. What a handsome son. And I started to get teary just reading that opening from “I Remember Mama.” My mom died when I was 23 — way too young to lose a mother, but then we’re always too young for that, aren’t we. Lovely post and now I’m off to HuffPo.

    • Jayne, On behalf of my son, thank you. He’s a good kid.
      I’m so sorry you lost your mom so young. I was 37 and I thought that was young. My father died soon after. It’s no fun being an orphan. That I Remember Mama quote gets me every time.

  11. I have no kids, or I would “probably” be the worst Mom ever. 🙂 I do have the best Mom, though. Now that I’m not a kid anymore, she’s a great friend and I’m the luckiest daughter.

  12. Your mom ‘raised you right’ as we are fond of saying in the south. And I’m sure you probably inherited the talent for excellent mothering. Can’t wait to read the Huffington post. Yeah!

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