Yep, I know this post is way past due for Mother’s Day. That’s probably because I didn’t write it for that reason. This is about the woman that shaped who I am, both good and bad. During my mom’s lifetime she’d be the first to admit that she lived an unconventional life. Oh, she did the usual things, like staying at home and raising three kids But after us kids became a certain age, she also went to work, going a little wild out there enjoying her newfound freedom from the drudgery of what she’d known.
Mom was a complicated sort of woman, but then aren’t we all in some way? Truly. Don’t we all have layered sides to each of us? Maybe a secret or two hiding within us that we don’t want to share with anyone else? That was my mom. To say my mother had secrets was an understatement. And if you keep reading you won’t find them out from me. Sorry. But I’m no snitch. If I’m anything at all, I’m loyal. Even her death will never drag them out of me. Besides, that’s not what this post is about either.
Many these days might consider my mom to have been on the quirky side. But that word quirky doesn’t quite cover who she truly was or the secrets she kept, even from my dad, certainly from us kids. Not by any stretch.
But upon meeting Mom something usually kicked in, people knew almost immediately she was different. At least that’s the way it was for me. After my older brother and sister would head off to school, it was just me and Mom left to our own devices back at home. One of my earliest memories was her ability to tell a story. She believed wholeheartedly in anything paranormal: psychic visions, ghostly apparitions, spirtiwalkers, ESP, you name it. If it was different, Mom was broad-minded enough to give it a chance. She made new friends, some white, some black, at a time when it was unconventional to widen your circle of acquaintances. And since she didn’t have a racist bone in her body, it seemed natural for Mom to include everyone. Let’s just say she was tolerant at a time when more people needed to be.
But again, she wasn’t perfect.
She could tell the most fascinating stories about things that happened to her growing up. Coincidentally they all included just the right amount of the paranormal. I grew up listening and believing. Engaged. Enjoying a good story. And before you go judging her, all the psychic phenomenon she added to her life, didn’t replace her religious upbringing. She was a staunch Baptist to the day she died.
But her quirky side sometimes prevailed through the stories she told: Wild characters who had near-brushes with death, ghosts who moved things around, ghosts who guided people’s decisions, shadowy figures who walked the forest at night helping travelers get home safely. There were hundreds of tales like this and she made them all so entertaining to the child who held on to her every word from the beginning of a story right through to its ending. And then sad when the tale was over.
So to my mother, wherever you are, your quirkiness is the light that guides me on my writing path. Your being different paid off. For those who don’t believe in the paranormal, that’s fine. But you’re missing a facet of life that holds its entertaining moments closest to the heart. The heart of a story that says, close your eyes, use your imagination to conjure up the possibilities that just might be waiting around that bend up ahead in the road. It’s okay to be different. Imagine different every time.