I can’t remember my mom ever sleeping. My entire life living with her she would go to bed after I did and when I woke up she would be at the kitchen table drinking coffee-already showered, hair already dried. I do remember her owning robes and slippers so I don’t know where that falls into the picture except to say that my mom was modest. I never saw her naked, never saw her in her underpants and only remember seeing her in a swimsuit when I was in my early 20’s. We took a water aerobics class together and when she came out from the dressing room in her modest 1 piece suit I was in awe of her. "Oh my God Mom! Look at you! You are so beautiful, look at that figure"! She laughed at my reaction and told me I had the same body --but it wasn’t true.
My Mom had a class and grace I have never seen in another person, ever. I’ve seen actresses try to convey it on screen and they can’t even pretend that as well as my mom lived it. She could accept a compliment or give one in the most genuine way. Years ago I wanted to have this quality that she had but I’ve quit trying.
My Mom’s coffee cups had little feet on them, and delicate handles and rims that tipped slightly out at the top and the material was so thin you could sometimes see through it. She drank from the pot of weak coffee that she would brew in the morning all day long,
My Mom had amazing table manners and even tough she grew up very poor and underprivileged in Detroit, you would have guessed she dined with the Queen every night.
My Mom never complained or gossiped and kept all of her emotions and feelings inside. If I so much as stub a toe, I need to tell every person I meet every detail about it. My Mom was terminally ill with cancer, dealing with a mentally ill son and a fiscally irresponsible ex husband and had a pot-head daughter who occasionally modeled nude for art classes. All anyone knew about My Mom's world unraveling at the end of her life was that her office door was closed more often.
My Mom was an amazing woman; our relationship was often much less than amazing. We mainly didn’t get along, but luckily for me, the last few years of her life she and I made peace. When I think about where she came from- an absent racist, alcoholic father, a meek subservient mother living in poverty- I see that my Mom gave me so much more than she ever had. She gave me so much more than you could ever expect a person of that background would be capable of giving.
My mom rarely spoke of her past and the small amount of information I have I've collected from my grandparents and photos and the very rare fleeting references my mom would make. She never spoke about her heritage much but when she was older and preparing to die she started to mention our Chippewa Indian heritage and tried to help my Grandpa preserve his small percentage of reservation land.
My mom took me to Minnesota to see where I came from and meet other relatives of mine that share the same Chippewa bloodline. But some memory of that place hurt her. Some relative in that group had hurt her and the entire trip went bad in such a way I had never seen. Even then, in her anger/hatred/bitterness she was in such control that I never dare ask for specifics.
When she died and I saw her body she looked like an old wise Indian woman. I had to identify her body and it was difficult because it was as if I was seeing her for the first time. She was just a small, delicate woman, not the giant I knew. Having to identify her body helped me come to terms with the idea that she was only human, when so many of us viewed her as something much greater than that.