A daughter comes to learn that her mother found happiness in a different and wonderful way.
"Just look at that gorgeous fringed shirt that lady is wearing! I bet she made it. I'm going to go ask her."
"Mom!" I said. But she'd already jumped up from her seat at the restaurant where we were having lunch. With her bracelets jangling, she hurried over to talk to a complete stranger.
How could this woman be my mom? I favored simple clothes in muted colors. My wedding band was my only jewelry. Mom had rings on almost every finger, two on some, the stones color-coordinated to match the giant sequined parrot on the front of her shirt.
I was soft-spoken. Mom blurted out whatever came into her head and never thought twice about starting up conversations with people she didn't know. Now I pretended to study my menu while across the restaurant Mom let out one of her loud, zesty laughs. Dear God, isn't there any way to quiet Mom down a bit?
An emergency room doctor recalls over 25 years of inspiring true stories of everyday “angels.”
At the age of 40 you'd think I'd have gotten used to this. I'd come out from Alaska to visit Mom in Texas, and I was flooded with memories of what it was like going out with her when I was a kid. She always dressed flashily, even for church. At my high school football games, I couldn't believe how loudly she hollered. The more my mom made a spectacle of herself, the more I wanted to fade into the background.
I got married right out of college and moved away. After my dad died, I assumed that Mom would slow down and eventually settle into a dignified old age. I imagined her puttering around in her flower garden and baking sugar cookies, then quilting quietly in the evening as she watched Wheel of Fortune.
Yeah, right! I should have gotten a clue when Mom sent me a poem that said, "When I am an old woman, I will wear purple." As Mom got older, she got bolder. She delighted in wearing pins the size of saucers, iridescent blouses and sandals sprinkled with glitter. If anything, her demeanor got even less inhibited, and every time I telephoned, she was rushing out the door to go to a gospel concert or a class in water aerobics. I was glad she was having fun, but it all seemed a little much. Couldn't she just take it easy and relax?
Now sitting there in the restaurant with Mom, I could see she was just the same. She returned to our table flushed with success. "I saw exactly how she sewed that fringe on, so now I can do it too!"
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"Mom, how could you just walk up to a total stranger like that?" I whispered.
"She's not a stranger to me anymore, dear." Mom winked and waved across the dining room to her brand-new best friend while I fussed with my napkin. I felt like everyone in the entire place was staring at us.
Thankfully, Mom wanted to eat in for the next couple of days. But then one evening she said, "Come on, honey, let's go to Billy and Lorene's for supper."
"Mom, you can't just show up at someone's house and expect them to feed you."
"Sure you can! I've done it before. Lorene makes the best chicken-fried steak. I'll call her right now and tell her to get started. We'll get Betty and Wilda and Darla too." Those were some of Mom's friends. I felt bad for them having to put up with Mom's whims.
"Mom, how do you know Lorene and Billy don't already have plans?"
"They'll have more fun with us!" Mom insisted.
I rehearsed an apology to Lorene in my head on the way over to her house. But when Lorene opened the front door, she grinned and said, "So glad you're here." Of course, she was probably just being polite. Secretly she was thinking, What an imposition!
Sunday morning as we got ready for church, Mom came twirling out of her bedroom in a red straw hat with a wide brim and lots of ribbons.