As you know if you’ve read either of my books and have seen the jacket copy, my father is a retired New York City police officer. Interestingly, this is the primary thing that most people who talk to me about my writing want to talk about. The few interviews I have had—some in print, one on a local cable station—have started out with the request to “tell us about your father.” This has become something of a family joke—hey, Maggie, how are the books doing and how are their sales affected by Dad? Do you have any upcoming interviews? Will the interviewer want Dad to be there?
Dad, of course, is extremely flattered.
But my mother, I fear, is starting to feel left out. During one of these joke-fests, my Mom finally blurted out, “What about the mother?! Doesn’t anyone want to know about the mother?!”
Indeed, what about the mother? Let me tell you a little bit about my mother.
My mother was the second of two children. Her brother, John, is without a doubt one of the kindest, nicest men you’ll ever meet. (One day I’ll write about his not-so-dangerous stint in the Air Force during the Korean War. It involves cooking, gymnastics, and R&R in Osaka.) His sister/my mother? The same. I don’t know what my grandmother did to raise two such wonderful people, but she did. And I thank her for it.
My mother raised four children on a shoe-string budget, sent them to Catholic school, and attempted—even though she will admit that cooking is not her forte—to provide a nourishing meal every night. She once told me that her goal was to serve a protein that cost no more than $3 a dinner. Now I know we’re going back thirty years or so, but $3? I don’t remember eating cat food, but this was a woman who could stretch a budget.
But this is not a woman who could sew. My father, the cop, needed new patches sewn on his NYPD shirts. She sewed them on—upside down. He was the laughing stock of the precinct. There was many a time when the hem on my plaid uniform skirt was hanging only to be repaired with a staple or two or a strip of Scotch tape. The nuns were not amused.
Nor could she sort laundry. My father—yep, the cop—was driving to work one day, wearing what he thought were his uniform socks. He had pulled them from his drawer one dark winter morning and donned them quickly, in a rush as he always was at four or five in the morning. He got about halfway to the George Washington Bridge when he realized that the circulation was completely cut off in his ankles and calves. The reason? He was wearing my uniform socks. And I was in the third grade.
But this is a woman who can love. She nursed me through two pregnancies, a life-altering surgery, a long and protracted illness. She held my hand when my grandmother—her mother—died. And she has listened to me cry about a myriad of woes concerning my various jobs, my childcare situation (or lack thereof), my children, my house, my friends, my dog…you name it. And she always had sage advice. She’ll cry with me, but always remind me that whatever I’m experiencing, I’m blessed. I could have it much, much worse.
So, you want to hear about my mother? This just scratches the surface. She’s all this and more and I don’t tell her enough how much I love her. Let this blog serve as a valentine, a belated Mother’s Day wish (I still owe her a card and a present!), and a happy birthday all rolled into one.
And to all of the Mom’s out there–happy belated Mother’s Day. One day isn’t enough but it will have to do.