As much as my Mama and I adored each other, we had a fairly contentious relationship. We bickered. A lot. My teen years were particularly hellish. Daddy spent a lot of time separating us and mopping up tears.
Maybe we were just too much alike. And therefore, competitive. Or maybe we were just different enough that those differences made us crazy. Mama tended to be an emotional weeper. I tended to have Daddy's more logical, linear mind. Mama was passive aggressive. I was just aggressive.
While in many ways, Mama was my biggest supporter, she could also be extremely critical. She told me I was such a pretty girl...if only I'd stand up straight/do something about that hair/wear a little lipstick/wear some "nicer" clothes (i.e. the style of clothes SHE wore). I always felt that I never quite lived up to what she'd hoped for me.
And I, for my part, was that nasty teenage girl who thought her mother was the stupidest woman on the face of the earth.
But once I reached my 20s, things mellowed out between us considerably. And after Daddy died, we became what I think I could call "friends".
In December, 1991, I went home to Austin for Christmas, and Mama and I decided to throw a cocktail party together, inviting both her friends and my friends. One thing that we both LOVED to do was cook and entertain, and this was a rare opportunity for us to do that together. Mama was a terrific cook - one of those few '60's housewives who ventured outside the traditional casseroles and canned goods. Mama was always experimenting. I'll never forget when she decided to introduce my very Texan Daddy to curry. And guess what? He LOVED it.
Being a "good cook" was a highly prized quality to Mama, and she had taught me everything I knew.
So for the party, we each chose several dishes and desserts to make, and cooked up a storm. I have to say, that between the two of us, we put out quite a spread.
At some point during the evening, Mama was standing in the dining room next to the food, chatting with one of her friends. I was in the kitchen. They couldn't see me, but I could hear them talking.
The friend complimented Mama on how delicious the food was. "Oh Doe, you are SUCH a wonderful cook."
Mama answered "Well thank you. I like to think I'm a pretty good cook. But Gretchen? Gretchen's the gourmet."
I remember standing there in the kitchen - stunned, with tears welling in my eyes. Mama had not only told someone that I was a good cook, but that I was a BETTER cook than she was! There she was, going on and on in a completely unsolicited way. She was proud of me.
It was the nicest compliment she ever gave me.
And she ever knew that I heard it.
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Peg at Square Peg in a Round Hole - NEW on FRIDAY!
Next week on The Spin Cycle...
Jen handed out "Words" once when Sprite's Keeper was the keeper of The Spin Cycle, but it's been a couple of years, and I thought I'd bring it back for an encore.
Bad words? Words of advice? Words of wisdom? A few choice words? Words With Friends? I'd like a word? Word count? Word of mouth? WordPress? Word one? The Word? Microsoft Word?
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