The blossoming of crazy lady


My mother is turning 50. Crazy Lady, as she is known to you all, will probably be upset with me for announcing her age so very publicly. However, she does not look a day over 38. My mom stopped aging in my mind at 38. It’s a weird phenomenon.

“How old is your mom?”

“38.”

“But you’re almost 25.”

“And?”

She is lovely, my mother. She is the definition of class.

She was born at the tail end of 1962 on December 30th when gas cost .28 cents a gallon and eggs were .32 cents a dozen. Sam Walton opened his first Wal-Mart  discount store in Bentonville, Arkansas. The first Target opened in Roseville, Minesotta. The first US rocket “Ranger IV” landed on the moon. Marilyn Monroe was found dead. You could rent an apartment for $110.00 per month. Johnny Carson began his career as presenter of “The Tonight Show” and Walter Cronkite started anchoring for “CBS Evening News.” Tony Bennet debuted in concert at Carnegie Hall while three convicts of Alcatraz successfully dug their way out with spoons.

These beauties were available for purchase, a great accent piece for any living room.

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They included a ‘Big 23 Inch Screen.’

This was invented by the Phillips Company.

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Have you ever been accused of being a Chatty Cathy? Well I have, plenty of times. Chatty Cathy grew in popularity in 1962, here she is.

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This man was making things happen as President.

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Segregation was folding and sights such as this were beginning to happen.

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It was a busy year for schools integrating and protests rising.

These were in fashion.

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Men’s skinny pants and women’s pedal pushers.

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You could ride in style in these Chevy machines. Look at those kids having fun in the backseat with no seatbelts to strap them in with. Chevy was introducing the Chevy II.

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Some popular TV shows were:

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The first colored TV show made it’s appearance:

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Some new movie releases, which you could view for a mere .50 cents in theaters:

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But the most important event to happen that year was the birth of my mother.

My mom was the firstborn to Oran and Patricia. Oran merely 20 years old and Pat 23. Pat stayed at home to take care of “baby mom” and Oran worked at the Woolen Mills in Pendleton, OR. Following close behind her were two more girls, making for a very hormonal house to grow up in. My grandfather adored his girls, they were precious in his sight. How could these three not be?

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My ‘mah’ grew up in a Christian home and attended an Assembly of God church, where dances and movies were frowned upon, and dresses were required for every service.

She became an adult around the age of 11. Unfortunately it seems to be the burden for every eldest child to grow up quickly. My grandmother suffered from many ailments and had to undergo several surgeries throughout my mom’s childhood, thus making her the next in line to go grocery shopping, step in to help with making meals, and look after the upkeep of the house. My grandfather would take her to the store, drop her off with a list of what they were in need of, then come back and pick her up with the bags of food and cleaner. She told me this once and my first reaction was to be appalled, how unfair of them to expect a child to hold such a responsibility, but then I realized how that helped shape her into one of the most caring mothers that ever was.

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I am not sure whether she was born with her perfectionist personality or if it was something that she evolved into from stepping into bigger shoes as she became older. She is neat and orderly, considers a sock on the floor to be a mess, and keeps housecleaning on a schedule. My mom wants everything to resemble as closely as possible a Rockwell picture. As her sister put it, “She is all about the presentation.” She has always been this way I am told, she probably organized her own diapers and cleaned her own bottles. Christmases for instance were spent arranging the wrapped presents precisely under the tree. After they were opened she would arrange what she received on a table to take a picture, and then transferring them to her bedroom she would find the perfect spots for them to be displayed.

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Her bedroom. One sister put it as “neat-as-a-pin.” The other sister said it was absolutely impossible to enter without her knowing. She knew if anything had been touched or taken, and I’m sure had a wrath for anyone who dared do either.

On a cold Sunday evening the three girls were packed into the back seat of Oran’s car. The family was heading home after the evening church service. Oran out of the blue says, “How about we go through Dairy Queen and get some hot chocolate?” Before the girls can even break a smile my mom replies, “Oh no we can just go home and make it ourselves.” And that is exactly what she did. Part of her was trying to save my grandfather’s wallet from becoming empty, I am sure, and the other part was her want to create family moments at home. She made ordinary things special. She still does. She “invented” a treat for her whole family, a graham cracker sandwich. Much like a s’more but it had frosting for the filling. The fact that one sister still remembers the treat to this day is testimony enough to the success of my mom’s ingenuity.

She must have learned this from her dad. For a school project in high school one year my mom needed to collect plant specimens, several, several samples of plants and flowers. Every Sunday afternoon for three weeks the whole family would clamber into the car and jet off around the valley helping to find and collect all that she needed. It strikes me as very much something my grandfather would have orchestrated, turning what should have been a mundane chore into an exciting trip.

I have been told that she was a major Nancy Drew fan. To me this explains so much as the books my mom reads now are all mysteries. The shows she loves the most are the crime solving ones, NCIS, CSI, Law & Order, etc. Back then I am pretty positive she had the mystery figured out after the first chapter.

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She was married in 1984 to my dad (Mr. Green) after never having actually dated him. They met at a college Christian group that held their gatherings at the Assembly of God church. She was getting over a hump of rebelliousness and had attended one meeting after much begrudging where my dad, to the envy of the other females, friended her. At first glance she held no interest in the cowboy turned city-boy (he did a year or so at Portland State), but he charmed his way in with his OCD traits and  by always providing her with a bowl of peanut M&Ms. They never made things official, she did not call him ‘boyfriend’ nor did he call her ‘girlfriend.’ Instead they spent time with one another, went for drives, ate ice cream, and I was told they kissed only once or twice (not sure about the truth in that one). My dad was your typical oblivious man and made plans to move to Seattle, WA, and become some type of successful business man, putting his accounting degree into action. My mom thinking she was going to lose him forever was devastated. I am uncertain of the timeline because all the stories blur together but at some point he went for a “quick” two-month visit and left my mom in charge of apartment sitting. My dad loved his houseplants, his many, many house plants, and my mom managed to kill every single one of them. He came back and disposed of his green friends, without so much as an ounce of anger toward my mother. You would have thought that was testament enough to his feelings for her but he must have been unsure, and so, just like your typical man told her, “I think we are spending too much time together.” My mom spent the next week in a sad state of tears and heartbroken hysteria. Poor thing. Then my dad called her, asked her to go for a drive, and proposed. He must have felt he was making the biggest mistake of his life. The romantic in me says he realized he couldn’t live the rest of his life without her. They have been inseparable ever since.

She desperately wanted a baby but my dear Sister Fierce took her sweet time becoming formed, how rude of her. She was born in 1986 and my mom loved almost every minute of being a mother. Then, of course, I was born in 1988, on the first day of Spring and her world was completely changed, nothing else mattered anymore but me and my round little cheeks, blue eyes, and curly-q poised all cute on the top of my head. Who am I kidding? She waited three more years and got the son, Brother Serious, in 1991 that she had been dying from the start to have. Sister Silent came five years later in 1996, the prettiest of us all, and my mother stayed busy with an infant, three older kids who were involved in all sorts of clubs and sports, and a job.

I’m going to get in trouble for posting this picture, but I can take the heat. Does my little sister not look like a the perfect Gerber baby? We were on my parent’s bed, pretty sure it had to be a Summer morning when we were on break. They had a small white TV in their bedroom that we would love to watch our shows on, even though there was a much larger one in the living room, such ninnies.

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She was, and is, an absolutely fantastic mother.

We always had dinner on the table, clothes washed, books to read, toys to play with, and allowed to watch our favorite shows on TV. She cleaned our bouts of sickness, took us to the doctor, chauffeured us to friend’s houses and swayed our dad to give us money for the movies. We may not have been so appreciative back then but we are more than appreciative now.

I have inherited my attentiveness for people and their lives from her. She is always genuinely interested in others. She gets teased for reading the obituaries like one would read football stats. But for her reading about another’s achievements, occupations, the children they had and places they saw are fascinating. I have to thank her for this now because I grew up learning how to study people, she was an anthropologist in her own right. I grew up learning how to care about those around me. People adore my mother, because she pays attention to them, she listens. She loves the valley we live in, the very one she grew up in herself. Her roots are deep and her connections vast. She will constantly get stopped in stores and restaurants by people, and hold long conversations with them asking how they are doing and what they have been up to. When I was younger (and I will admit even now at times) I would get annoyed because we could stand there for (no exaggeration) hours talking with people. Now I realize how amazing of a reflection that is on her and her character.

My mom is my best friend. The birthday card I got her this year, and ones in the past, have always pointed out that she was also my first friend. She was the first pair of eyes that lit up when they saw me, the first to ever hold me close, the first to kiss my cheek, to hold my hand, and soothe me when I cried, she knew me before anyone else ever laid eyes on me.

Today my mom turns 50. She has lived a life that has been full of mountains and valleys, lots of hard challenges and many sweet moments. She is an amazing mom, wonderful wife, caring friend, and beautiful woman. She has spent 50 years worrying over others, helping where and when she can, and shaping her children into respectable adults. My prayer is that the next chapter of her life can be one where she can spend time treating herself. She deserves all the blessings, the adventures, and fun that God can give her.

Happy Birthday Mom!

P.S. Look who shares the same birth year as you!

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