Friday, December 14, 2018

It's Who I Am

(Originally published in the Miami News-Record)

As I was standing in my bathroom this morning I stopped for a second as I caught a familiar image in the mirror. I was fixing my hair, but what made me stop in my tracks was the fact that not only is my hair turning a delightful shade of silver, the style is also resembling Mom’s. The best way to fix it is to tease it all over until you look like one of those fancy show chickens. Then you hairspray it like crazy and smooth it into submission. It was at the precise moment where I was between teasing and spraying that I had the revelation. I’ve seen my mom come flying out of her bathroom with hair teased to break up an argument between Heather and me on more than one occasion. I looked like Mom in teenage-daughter-argument-breakup-mode. Sidenote: It’s hard to be frightened of a woman whose hair resembles a fancy show chicken.

I get a lot of things from my mom: obviously my hair, my propensity to cry at old black and white movies (and pretty much everything else), my love of Oklahoma and Disney World, my ability to cook up a storm, my ability to organize pretty much anything, and so much more. Mom is my hero. She has taken all the bad life has given her and made it good through sheer will, determination, more than a few tears, and love. Always love.

My Aunt Shirlye took me to have my ears pierced and fashioned me a makeshift bikini out of fabric scraps once when I wanted to swim in her wheelbarrow. She is who I’m pretty sure I’m becoming as I age. Every new item of clothing or furniture or decoration I bring home in any shade of aqua/teal/turquoise, prompts Paul to say, “Alright there, Shirlye Jean. Let’s save room for the other colors, too.” She loved me so fiercely.

My Nana was my buddy. Nan’s house had few rules and there was always Coke in the fridge. She ate salt on everything. She and I watched Dick Clark many a New Year’s Eve. And so much Johnny Carson. Dresses with jingle bells in the hem, the smell of Vanderbilt perfume, and her singing “Happy Birthday” even when the tremors in her voice were so bad she was barely understandable – Goodness, but I miss her.

My Memaw was sick my entire life, but when I think of her I always think first of her smile. She was who I ran screaming to when Heather was flogged by the devil rooster on the farm and I will never forget the day I asked her if Papa was saved. We were walking hand in hand across the back yard. She smiled down at me and said, “Your Papa is a good person, Kristin. That’s important.” Now as an adult I know having to answer me vaguely was troubling to her but she would’ve never darkened my impression of my Papa. He was saved after she passed and don’t you know she was so happy to see him come through those gates on that November day!

Just today Mom told me that when it comes to worrying, I remind her of Granny Glenn. She said Granny would worry if she didn’t have something to worry about and I relate to that on a personal level. Granny fed us Vitamin C and alfalfa sprouts like our lives depended on it. And Tea Tree oil runs in my veins because of her.

I am the woman I am today largely in part due to the women I’ve had in my life. I sometimes feel like I fail in coming anywhere remotely close to who they were and are, but doggonit, I sure try. I hope I leave a legacy for my kids as colorful as the one I come from. I hope they remember laughter. I hope they remember forehead kisses and the blood, sweat, and tears I put into their over-the-top Valentine boxes. I hope they remember Momma wasn’t perfect, but she sure tried to cover the imperfect parts in glitter and cake frosting. And that I loved them with all that I had in me. Just like my momma did me.

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