When I was in 9th grade, I officially took over the buying of gifts for my Mama. Daddy was a loving, kind man, who unfortunately was also very practical and...frugal. His idea of a gift for Mama tended toward things like...a new electric frying pan, or a pair of gardening gloves. Nice, but not exactly pampering or romantic. When I took over, things got better for my mother, because I wasn't just her champion, I was her...secret weapon.
You see, Mama had a good friend, Mrs. Mann, who owned a jewelry store. So every time a birthday or Mother's Day or Christmas was coming up, Mama and I would go down to Mrs. Mann's store. Mama would then pick out exactly the piece of jewelry she wanted it. Next, it was my turn. I would tell Daddy that Mama had mentioned to me that she would really like a new bracelet (or ring or necklace or earrings or whatever). So we would head down to the jewelry store to take a look and see what they had. Mrs. Mann, who was veeeeeery clever, would greet us as if she hadn't just seen me the week before, and then she would proceed to show Daddy the bracelets (or rings or necklaces or earrings...) which she thought Mama would like. She would always pull out three items. One would be inexpensive and plain, one would be far too expensive and flashy, and the third would be just right. And of course that was the one that Mama had picked out for herself the week before. It worked every time. Heheheheh.
When I grew up and started buying gifts for Mama on my own, she was always my favorite person to buy for. Partly because we had really similar tastes, but also because she had lots of interests, so I was always finding things that were "so Mama". I was always dog-earring catalogues and saving them for Christmas, and by the time December rolled around, I'd have a hundred things I wanted to get her.
A weird phenomenon that happens when someone dies is that you keep seeing things that are "so them". For years it would break my heart whenever I'd find that perfect thing to buy for Mama, but alas, she was gone. It still happens sometimes, especially around Mother's Day, when I get swamped with emails advertising "The Perfect Gift for Mom". The other day I saw these from Anthropologie, and I thought "That's so Mama!".
There are so many things I wish I could have given her that I could never begin to name them all. But here are a few things that come to mind that she missed, and I know she would have loved.
Mama would have ADORED Downton Abbey! She was a nut for any and all British television, especially Upstairs, Downstairs, and a lifelong supporter of PBS. In fact, when she died, they found her in bed with the tv on, tuned to the PBS station. I'm pretty sure she died watching Mystery!, which is so perfect I can't stand it. Anyway, I stumbled upon the PBS Downton Abbey gift site the other day, and I wanted to buy it all for her.
Netflix would have been the greatest thing in her life. Mama died before the internet came along, and she would have love all of it, really, but Netflix would have been her thing. ALL of her programs in one place! She could have binge watched all her mystery shows and every Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney movie.
All Things Pope Francis
Mama would have loved Papa Francisco so much I can't even express it. All about charity, a Jesuit - she'd have been over the moon! I almost certainly would have gotten her this...
and would probably have bought her this, but she'd have hated it.
Mama loved games. All games. She was kind of a card shark, but also loved word games and puzzles. If she had been able to join Club Pogo, we could have played Jungle Gin or Canasta or Spades and chatted TOGETHER, even though we were in separate states! It would have been the coolest thing.
Mama and I both always loved a good cookbook. She used to sit in bed at night watching her PBS shows and reading cookbooks. I can picture her now, with her reading glasses on the end of her nose, marking interesting recipes with little scraps of paper. I don't have anyone to buy cookbooks for now. It's frustrating! I'm always finding a new and amazing cookbook and I want to give it to her!
This, of course, is the gift I would most have wanted to give her. She died 10 years before the boy was born. It breaks my heart more than I can express. She would have been a fierce Grandmama. I have absolutely no doubt that she would have sold the house in Texas and bought a condo here within a year of Jude's birth. I wouldn't have been able to keep her away from him. She would have smothered him with love and food and everything she could possibly buy for him. The thought of being able to have handed baby Jude to her for the first time just...kills me.
Okay, this whole list has pretty much done me in. I don't think I've ever cried this much writing a blog post. Maybe I'm just getting old and hormonal. Maybe I just always miss her so much on Mother's Day. And maybe it's that all of the things on this list are things that I would like to receive as a gift, and I'm suddenly shocked to see how much like her I am. I honestly don't think I realized just how alike we are until this moment. I always think of myself as Daddy's girl, but clearly...
So does anybody want to get me that pope mug?
Is there anyone in your life who you've lost who you would like to buy gifts for?
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