When I was younger, Mom was always just Mom, someone you loved but also sometimes feared. As children we don’t realize that Moms are also individuals with feelings, frustrations, dreams, hopes and regrets. Never perfect but with many facets of personality that make up the person we call Mom. I have memories of Mom wearing rolled up jeans, saddle shoes and sometimes a kick ass attitude. I remember occasions when she went nose to nose with someone who did something she didn’t like. She wasn’t always the winner but she also didn’t often back down. This story is one I previously posted a few years ago. When I first wrote this story I had always believed she was just upset about the spitting. I’ve re-read it and thought about things and have come to realize that perhaps anger and frustration for someone else was probably the motivation for her actions that day. I don’t know if she ever apologized to anyone or felt bad about that day but I guess it really doesn’t make any difference. She was Mom…not Perfect.
Anyone who knew my mother knew her as a kind, generous, loving woman who knew absolutely adored her family and opened her door to any and all in need. Ask any of my sons about their Grandmother and the first thing you’ll see is a softening of their face. A gentle look comes into their eyes and you’ll see a bit of a smile tinged with sadness as they think about her. They remember the older, gentler, kinder woman; I remember the younger, feisty woman you didn’t want to piss off.
One summer day we were visiting my mother’s parents. One of our male cousins was staying with our grandparents for the summer and, as me the child remembers, he was about 7 years old, a red-headed, whinny, tattle-tale brat so I’ll refer to him as Cousin B. This particular day, Mom had reached her limit with him and his pissiness and she said it was time to go home. My sisters and I were in the back seat of our car with the window down. Cousin B. walked up to our window and spit at us. He stood there smirking until my mother’s car door opened.
In a flash, Mom was out of the car and reaching for him. He took off running up the alley probably figuring she wouldn’t go after him because she was too old being in her late 20’s or early 30’s. Wrong…….she was hot on his heels. The exact moment he realized he was in for it, that Mom was mad as hell and not giving up the chase until she caught him, he started screaming for our Grandmother. “Help, help me Nanny, help” he yelled. The way he was screaming for our Grandmother I’m sure they heard him in Corning. Dad started laughing because Mom was really moving. Our Grandparents came running out of the house as Cousin B. ran past them into the house with Mom right behind him.
“Stay in the car” Dad said as he got out. The next thing I saw was the second story bedroom window open and Cousin B.’s head pop out. With the window open we could hear Mom yelling at him and, realizing she was still after him, he crawled out onto the sun porch roof. Mom came out that window right behind him. My Dad must have explained what had happened because he and my Grandfather were laughing while my Grandmother was yelling at my Mom.
Cousin B. was cornered with no place to go as Mom caught up with him on the sun porch roof. By now he’s wailing like a banshee. We stayed in the car like we were told but four heads were squeezed out the back seat window in awe of our mother. She actually caught him and she climbed out on to the roof to do it. “You will apologize” Mom yelled at him. “No…help me Nanny, please” was his reply. My Grandmother starts using the Gaelic so we know she’s really pissed now too. Mom grabs him by the arms and holds him over the edge of the roof. “You will apologize to them all or else” she tells our cousin. “Okay, okay” he cries, believing she’s going to drop him if he doesn’t. At this point my Dad reaches up and takes him from Mom after she lowered him down a bit. As an adult I realize that porch roof was probably only 6 or 7 feet from the ground but to a 7-year-old it probably looked like the Grand Canyon.
Mom crawled back through the window, came outside, grabbed Cousin B. and marched him over to the car. He apologized for spitting at us and promised to never do it again. Nanny wasn’t happy with Mom for what she did and continued to yell at her. Cousin B. received a couple of swats on his ass from our Grandfather. No one said much on the drive home as Mom continued to vent her ire. When her temper was up you left her alone if you knew what was good for you.
Our cousin never spit again, never antagonized us again and Mom was the only Aunt who never had to speak more than once to him. As he grew older he and Mom actually became close and whenever he was in town he’d stop in and visit with her. The loving, gentle woman my sons remember had fire in her blood and, at times, a temper to match. That fire was just banked to warm, soothing embers as she grew older.
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