Behind My Red Door

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Very Special Birthday for a Very Special Mom

See this pretty lady? That's my mom! She sure doesn't look 80 does she? Well she is - that's right, today is my Mom's birthday! She is smiling because those are the chocolate covered strawberries Jay and Angela gave her. My mom loves strawberries. She grew them in our backyard when I was growing up, along side a huge vegetable garden and flower gardens. We had the best strawberry shortcake you ever tasted. No store bought sponge cakes for us. My mom made biscuits from scratch. She also grew rhubarb so we had strawberry rhubarb pies and she made the strawberries into jam as well. Those are just a few of the things my mom used to do. Move over Martha Stewart. You don't hold a candle to MY MOM!

I hope you all will indulge me and let me repeat parts of my Mother's Day post from last May, with a few timely additions thrown in.

~I am one of the really lucky ones in this world. I have such an awesome mom! She is one of my best friends and I would NOT be the strong confident woman I am if it weren't for her. Actually I have to tell you right off the bat that I wouldn't be the wife and mom I am if it weren't for her. You see in 1972, when I was a junior in high school, she fixed me up with this really cute guy that worked at the drugstore where she was a bookkeeper. He worked there after classes at a local college and she thought he was a sweetheart. And as usual MOM KNOWS BEST. That cute guy and I will celebrate our 34th anniversary in June. And she never lets me forget it she picked him out - but that's OK. She done good!
I hardly know where to begin telling you all the wonderful, clever, talented, creative things my mom did as the four of us were growing up. I guess I can start right at the beginning because hanging in my bedroom is the Christening gown, little jacket and slip she made for me when I was baptized. The slip is cotton, and the dress and little jacket are eyelet lace with the teeniest buttons, snaps and bows she hand sewed. When I took them out to display them last year, in the box there were also little felt baby shoes she made for us when we were babies. She made our Easter dresses, our winter coats with matching hand muffs, our back to school clothes and even learned how to make her own lined pinch pleat draperies and slipcovers for the furniture. When the six of us traveled cross country in station wagon pulling a pop up tent trailer that we opened each night and closed each morning for six weeks - YES SIX WEEKS - my mom and sister and I had matching clothes. Not only was she was a saint to take four kids on a trip like that but she also made clothes for the trip!

One fall, every evening after we were all in bed, she sewed dozens of Barbie and Ken doll outfits and all the little accessories that went with them as well. Have you ever seen how teeny those arm holes are? That was a VERY special Christmas surprise for me I tell you. Well every Christmas was special in our house with her handmade decorations and Christmas stockings.
Along with the Christening dress, also in my home are three oil paintings she did. One still life and the two portraits of each our kids she painted when they were young. One of the biggest thrills for me having our home featured in both Country Sampler and Mercantile Gatherings this year is that her primitive portraits were featured in both publications.

She deserves the spotlight for sure. In addition to being a talented artist, several family members are the lucky recipients of the quilts she made - including the one she made for Jay's crib and Jen's bed.
When there was a bake sale at school, no plain old brownies for my mom -no way! She baked whoopie pies - dozens and dozens of the best ones you have ever tasted. At Christmas time she made cookies that were works of art and so many different ones. In the summer she would make pickles and relishes and jams and jellies from the fruits and veggies in season or the ones she grew in her own backyard. I remember eating watermelon so she could pickle the rind. My mouth is watering now thinking of them. When we had lamb, we had homemade mint jelly to go with it - are you getting the idea? I cannot think of anything my mom couldn't and didn't do. She actually went to Girl's Trade School at night and learned just about every trade they offered. I think they finally said "Beverly, we have nothing left to teach you. Go forth and share it with the world". My prim peeps will appreciate this. My mom would take panels of copper and punch colonial designs in them and use hard boiled egg yolks to age them. The sulphur would give the copper a great patina. She would buy old dressers and bureaus at flea markets and yard sales and painted and antique them. See gals, she was colonial long before anyone one else was.

Of course she helped with Girl Scouts all the time and was a Den Mother for Cub Scouts too. She always made every occasion or holiday special for our family. She made panoramic sugar eggs with little scenes inside for Easter and she blew the inside out of real eggs and decorated the delicate shells and we had an Easter Tree. Of course there were never any store bought Halloween costumes in our house. We all had unique hand made ones. And every birthday, our cakes could have graced the cover of Woman's Day or Good Housekeeping or Martha Stewart. We had dolls and trains and rocket ship cakes. And Easter meant a Bunny Cake and there was a flag one on the Fourth of July with fresh berries. She did that before it was in style too. And I can't forget her trademark meat dressing for the turkey at Thanksgiving and the special Lithuanian dish we have only at Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving called Potato Kugelis.
And she didn't stop when we grew up. She helped make my wedding dress, her Mother of the Bride dress, the flower girl's dress and decorated all the garden hats we wore. She would have made the cake too if someone didn't stop her! My first Christmas as a married woman, I got ornaments made from some of the leftover wedding dress lace. They still hold a place of honor on my tree every year. When my sister got married, she made all the granddaughter's special dresses.

When my kids (and eventually each of the other grandchildren) were born, she started doing fun things for and with them. For a time, she and my dad lived on Cape Cod and every holiday - not just Christmas, but Easter, Halloween, you name it, she would make cassette tapes for the kids and mail them to us. She would read the holiday stories from the magazines she bought, and she play songs on the piano and sing to the kids on the tape. We still have those tapes. Yes, she also plays the piano - very well and her voice is as sweet and strong as ever. She painted designs on T-shirts and sneakers for the Fourth of July cookouts and gave them their own sugar eggs as well. I know, I know, you are saying SHE IS MAKING THIS UP - no one could do all those things and be that creative and talented but I have to tell you it is the truth and I have witnesses - many of them!

When the kids got old enough, she would do crafts with them and cook with them and she would take Jason to the movies I didn't want to see and she would paint Jen's nails and toes and do her hair fancy and make jewelry with her. They would get to stay at Mamma's on the Cape for a treat, and she took them to the Herring Run and the Cape Cod Potato Chip factory and every other fun thing she could find. When they were older, she would drive back here for Jen's dance recitals and Jay's football games and their proms. That''s just the kind of Mamma she is. My kids adore her (and Bampa too.)
Yesterday we celebrated Mom's birthday by gathering at a great Mexican restaurant. My mom's brother lived in California when I was growing up and he would fly east bringing with him the freshest ingredients in coolers to make Mexican food - back when you couldn't get it on the east coast. We are all very found of the real deal so it was the perfect place to celebrate!

This is my mom and dad with some of the grandchildren and one great granddaughter. My kids, Jay and Jen are in the back, my sister's daughters are Rachel on the left and Hannah in the middle and Gracie, my parent's great grand daughter is in the front middle. And here is my younger brother Allan -hey bro, you got a blog mention!

My mom again....

And here is most of the gang..

Jay's wife Ang, and Allan's wife Cindy were both feeling under the weather and Allan's daughter Erica and her two little ones, Julius and Avery couldn't make it but all where there in spirit.

And my mom still hasn't stopped doing for others. Every day she helps my dad get dressed and get out of bed and she tends to his medical needs. When her friend Marion was hospitalized this winter, my mom visited her several times a week so that Marion would have company. My sister lives just minutes from my parents and she and her family go away on vacation, my mom often tends to my sister's pets. She is involved in a pen pal program through the senior center and school system in her town. Any child assigned to her is one lucky child!

My mom is one incredible woman - she is like the energizer bunny, she keeps on going and going. Only there is a huge difference. Inside that bunny are some hard metal parts.

Inside my my mom, is the softest heart of gold!
Happy Birthday Mom! David and I love you very much!

Until next time, hugs, Linda

PS After all the rain, we barely got an inch of snow and we awoke to a cold but very sunny day! I'd say that is the perfect present from Mother Nature to my mom!