When you grow up as the youngest of 5 very individual individuals, traits from all of them are bound to rub off on you. With a 10 year gap between me and Vince (child #4) and an 18 year span between me and Wanda (child #1), I practically grew up with 3 mamas and 3 daddys. My siblings have always looked out for me, worried about me, and taken good care of me. Well, except for that one fire extinguisher spray in my eyes incident (it’s forgotten, really it is). But for the most part, I’ve always felt completely nurtured and loved by all of them. So when friends and family who know the whole bunch of us call me out as being “very Colleen” with a certain facial expression, or “so Anthony” with something I say, or insist that my actions are “just like Wanda”, I take all those comments as compliments because I think my brothers and sisters are all great.
But I know that the root of all of us is our sweet parents.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad is awesome in his own right, but my mama…now SHE was one of a kind. And she was never shy in reminding us just that: “The good Lord broke the mold when he made me.”
So in the spirit of Mother’s Day, I’ve compiled a list of just some of the ways that I see my mama in me.
- I’m a good cook. Mama was an awesome Southern cook. No gourmet cookbook meals at her house. Just good ol’ Southern Comfort foods 24-7. Literally. I love to cook, and when I do, it’s pretty darn good. (if I do say so myself.)
- I’m the hostess with the mostess. Mama’s house was the house to be at. Everyone was always welcome, and if you were hungry–even better. Few things made Mama happier than feeding people. I love to entertain, too, and creating reasons to celebrate is one of my favorite pasttimes. (stay tuned for the “Manda’s Moving Out of the Loop Party”.)
- I’m loaded with cliches, and I’m not afraid to use them. Mama always had something to say about that, even if it wasn’t exactly applicable.
- I’m a good listener, but I’m a fixer too. Mama always tried her best to fix things, no matter how trivial the problem might be. I’m much the same. Tell me your problems all day long, but bear with me as I try to solve each and every one of them. And if a solution isn’t identified, I’m sure I can find a blanket cliche to cover it.
- I’m sweet. Mama always treated everyone with courtesy, kindness and respect, just the way that she wanted to be treated. I try my best to do the same. A little kindness can go a long way.
- I’m Southern and proud of it. Mama was a charming Southern lady to the core, and she taught her girls well. The fact that I rarely leave the house without my face on? That’s because “you never know who you might run into.” And, I’d much rather be corrected by a person for calling them “ma’am” or “sir” than be disrespectful to my elders.
- I’m a baseball fan before any other sport. Mama liked baseball over football, but she preferred St. Louis to Houston. Now, I hate to admit it, but when it came down to picking a favorite, it was the “good lookin’ uniforms” that swayed her. If I weren’t an Astros fan, I’d probably have to favor the Cardinals, too. Those boys sure do look good in that Cardinal red.
- I’m just a little bit naive. Mama always trusted that people are generally good. Sometimes too much. If you asked her today, I bet she’d say O.J. didn’t do it. And, I’d probably agree with her. I know it’s not always logical or right, but the way I see it, life’s hard enough. Being jaded and cynical only makes it tougher.
- I’m always up for going. Mama enjoyed being at home, but she just loved going and doing just about anything. Mama gave me one of the greatest compliments she’s ever given me just last summer when I returned from my annual “Buffett & Baseball” trip. She said, “I think you got your ‘go and have fun’ from me.” I think she’s right.
- I’m a fan of country music, especially the old stuff. Mama’s sweet little off-key voice was forever singing along to the kitchen radio, especially when songs like “Hey, good lookin’…Whatcha got cookin’?” played. Some of her other favorites were by folks like George Strait, Hank Williams, (sr., not jr.), Charlie Pride, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. And, despite some of his “more colorful” lyrics, she liked Jimmy Buffett, too. What can I say? The lady had good taste.
- I’m a great shopper. Mama enjoying shopping so much. I think for her, it truly was “retail therapy”. She’d buy things for others just because she knew they’d like it. I was the recipient of many of these spontaneous gifts. I think most of the joy of it was just knowing I was on her mind. When I can, I like to pass that joy along to my friends and family.
and most importantly…
- I love my family. Mama loved nothing more than to have her loved ones right up underneath her, but that wasn’t always possible. Regardless of where my life takes me, my family can trust that I love them “up to the sky and down again, around the world and back again”.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I sure do miss you. ❤