Monday, March 22, 2010
In an earlier post I wrote about a divorced mother of six who let her daughter, Mary, and me take her car to do laundry when we were sixth graders. Since then, I have been thinking a lot about Mary's mom, Suzanne. I didn't mean to imply she let us run wild and unsupervised. On the contrary, she had everything and everybody under control. Her hands were full and she had to delegate to the older children.
There was a stigma attached to the divorced woman in the 60's and 70's. I remember the hateful and snide remarks from other mothers and how they would lower their voices when Mary walked in the room. My Mom was never in on this and probably didn't know it was going on, as she was too concerned about her own divorced daughter and husband who drank too much. But that's another story.
Suzanne worked hard, day and night keeping books and hostessing at the local country club. She had a family to feed and a house to keep. She wasn't looking for a new man or someone else's husband. I believed the only problem the other mothers had with her was, Suzanne was drop dead gorgeous.
She loved her family and when she had time off that's who she spent it with.
Mary and I would often walk to her house for lunch and save our money for more important things like football games. We didn't get allowances like the other kids in our class, so we made these little sacrifices whenever possible.
One extremely cold windy day, we walked to Mary's, half starved, and Mary's mom was home. I don't think I had ever seen her in daylight. Anyway she made us soup and the best cornbread I have ever eaten. In fact, I don't think I had ever eaten cornbread until that day. Even though it was a staple in our house, it had never appealed to me. But this was good. It was a little sweet, I think she added sugar.
Life can be pretty hard in a single parent family, but it's one of those things that happens in this imperfect world. I think Suzanne somehow was able to make the best of her circumstances by focusing on the end result, children who felt loved and secure. That's hard for anyone.
Suzanne tops my list of people I learned from growing up. And when I make cornbread I always add a little sugar, which makes me think of her, which makes me think maybe it wasn't the cornbread that was so sweet.
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