I remember so vividly the warm, loving woman waiting in the kitchen with cookies and milk when the kids came home from school. The mother that was always there with a kiss, an encouraging word and an "I love you".
Oh? No. Those memories are of black & white TV shows I grew up in front of. Those were Harriet Nelson, Donna Reed, Shirley Partridge, Laura Petrie and Carol Brady. That was not my mother at all. The household of my early years more resembled Hazel. The woman waiting in the kitchen with the cookies and juice was my nanny Kay. The warm words, hugs, kisses and "I love you" were from my father. The woman taking me for my first day of school was my aunt Gloria.
My mother wasn't the "warm and fuzzy" type. She was more like Ms. Ellie from Dallas. She was a working mom who loved her career as teacher and brought that into the home. I do not remember my mother [Adelaide] ever really treating us as children. We were treated in much the same way she treated her high school students, with respect and encouragement.
My mother's lack of "warm and fuzzy" is not to be mistaken for a lack of love. There was plenty of love from both parents and from "second mom" Aunt Gloria who lived with us. Adelaide just was not demonstrative. Some people are "huggers" and some are not. She was not. Mom was also not to be misconstrued as cold. She just showed her love in her own way.
After my father passed away, when I was ten, my mother and I naturally grew closer. Some of that is because I was now a precocious brat acted more like an adult than a kid. Some is because we had both lost Pat [the demonstrative one] and need each other more. Mostly because we liked each other. I am the youngest of three. There are quite a few years between between me and my siblings. My brother was married. My sister was plunged into her career and busy dating. I was home.
Something else transformative happened that summer of my tenth year. My mother and I began to travel. My mother was a foreign language and history teacher who, at fifty, had never been out of the United States. This was about to change. To help fill the void left from my father's death and for diversion, a group of us went to Europe. There were seven of us family members roaming together through England, France and Italy.