June 7, 2008

Yes, Nan Is My Mother

I was an English teacher in the late seventies, back before it was called Language Arts. I had eighth grade students, and for the most part I loved what I did.

One of my students was a genuinely sweet boy. He was smart but not a smarty, and his work was thoughtful and original. One day he walked up to me at my desk with a smile on his face.

“I understand that Nan is your mother,” he said.

“Excuse me?”

“Nan. Isn’t your mother’s name Nan?”

What’s going on? “Yes...”

Big grin. “She’s my partner in Hustle lessons.”
It seems he was the tallest boy in the dance class, which consisted entirely of young teens and my mother, in her late 50s. So he got to be her partner. He stood there grinning.

I rolled my eyes. “Go sit down.”

He gleefully took his seat.

My mom is something else. Always has been. When I was in high school, she bought a guitar because she wanted to sound like Eric Clapton. I was mortified. When she was 65, she signed up for skiing lessons at Jackson Hole. (God intervened with a severe cold and she spent the weekend in front of the fire in the lodge. Thank heaven.) At 87, she has finally slowed down a little, and her short term memory is failing. But she pumps iron and rides the stationary bike three times a week. She travels the world every year, dragging my willing but sedentary stepfather along. She finally quit working as a travel agent about a year ago.

A former model, Mom still has the carriage of Princess Grace. She plays poker with “the girls” every week and is a former state champion in bridge. She is always open to new experiences and opens her house to anyone. No stranger to tragedy—she lost her first husband and first three children—she still loves to laugh, and it’s infectious. My friends who have met her all use exactly the same word to describe her: “amazing.” She really is. I can only hope it’s hereditary.


bigislandjeepguy said...

without having met you face to face and just by your writing alone, trust me..."amazing" *is* hereditary in your case. i'm sure i would say the say in person, too.

mom's are awesome. just reading what you wrote brought a big smile to my face (ok, a little bit of water to my eyes, but i swear, something just flew in 'um), remembering my mom.

thanks for a great start to a saturday morning.

Trailboss said...

WOW....so happy to read this. Your mom sounds like a hoot! Good for her.

Greg said...

This is great! Is it her birthday, or are you just in the mood to pay a little tribute?

From what I know so far (both here and hooky beach, and your comments hither and yon...), I get the impression you're a chip of her block...(as are we all, eh...?)...she sounds delightful!

somewhere joe said...

She's pretty good at naming children too. Mothers can be wildly capable, and we never quite catch up. How do they do that?

Birdie said...

You know, Jeepguy, it occurred to me later that I should have clarified that I hoped her amazing stamina is hereditary. You are very kind.

You too, Greg. No special occasion for this, just a special mom.

Welcome to my blog, Trailboss! Hope to see your smiling face here lots more.

And Joe, you're going to meet her one day. I promise.

Patrick said...

I don't doubt for a minute that her stamina and zest for life is hereditary. The evidence in your blog is already overwhelming, even for a relative newcomer like me. Your mom is also an inspiration to me, thanks to your portrait. My folks are inspiring too, in similar ways, but one can never have too many role models, right?

My word verification is 'hujaugjh'. Not sure how to say it, but doesn't it seem like a yawlp of joy?

David said...

Fascinating. Thanks for the glimpse.

Anonymous said...

She sounds like a great lady!