Last Train to Clarksville: Mother’s Day

My mother belonged to a different generation; a generation more interested in parenting their kids than relating to them or trying to understand them


I’m sitting here chatting with you and thinking about my mom.  Mother’s Day is almost upon us, and this occasion normally focuses my attention on the lady who birthed me into existence. My mother belonged to a different generation; a generation more interested in parenting their kids than relating to them or trying to understand them.  Eleanor (me mum) was an introvert, an extreme one.  She was a lady of very few words.

I grew up in Mayberry; Andy was Sherriff.  We ate all of our meals together as a family, like the Cleavers, and we discussed the day’s activities.  I grew up thinking everybody did this.  Our meals were always balanced.  Mom made sure we ate from the five major food groups, every meal.

My clothes were always clean and ironed before I stepped out the door.  I wore stylish clothes because mom believed that a family’s external appearance reflected well on a family, or not.

Mom cared for me whenever I was sick.  She knew all my likes and dislikes.  She made mental notes about what foods I both enjoyed and frowned on, such that when she bought snacks (on the rare occasion when she did so) they were snacks to my liking.

Eleanor was not only a beautiful woman but also a gentle soul.  That last sentence almost doesn’t do justice to her because she was so incredibly gentle that at times she seemed ego-less.  My mother’s entire reason for existing seemed to be wrapped up in caring for her family.  She was a homemaker’s homemaker.  Only a scientific white room was cleaner than her castle.  Nothing ever got dirty at 641 Chestnut Street.  We could have eaten off all the floors at any time.

I never heard my mom swear, not even once, not ever during her 78 years on this planet.  I also never saw her mad.  I don’t know what her political persuasion was because we didn’t talk about politics.  Actually, we never talked about issues of any kind.

I inherited some of mom’s good genes, and the aspects of my personality that are tender and caring, came from her.  Mom respected my right to privacy.  She never asked me why I did the dumb stuff I was known for.  There was a downside to this, however.  Partly because of her generation, partly because she was an introvert, and partly because she felt uncomfortable discussing feelings (hers or anybody else’s) mom remained a mystery to me.  Thus, we managed to live long parallel lives together without ever getting to know each other’s true inner worlds even though we loved each other deeply.  I don’t exactly know why we were unable to enter one another’s worlds, and I am truly sad about this but my gratefulness for everything else greatly outshines this one area of mystery.

Whenever I look back now on my childhood through the eyes of a seasoned adult, I am grateful almost beyond expression.  I was lucky.  My parents had their issues but in hindsight they provided me with a very safe launching pad – they were the Cape Canaveral of my youth and then evolved into the Houston of my young adulthood, until finally one day I learned how to fly on my own. I love you mom and I will always be in your debt!  And since you loved cleaning, I hope heaven has some dusty corners.