This essay was originally printed in the Iowa Review.
She liked to walk in the neighborhood on summer evenings, and would get me to join her by saying, “Let’s go look in people’s windows.”
Linda Lee Gosney Brown was born on Oct. 6, 1938; she died on April 8, 1989, when she was 50 and I was 28 and my brother was 23, between the time she called for my father and the time he made it from his recliner to the bedroom, her mitral valve blown out like a flat tire at high speed, gone in a heartbeat.
Nine months and five days after her wedding, she gave birth to me.
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One time when I was sunbathing on the deck and felt something poking me in the hip, I opened my eyes and there she was with a spatula, deadpanning, “It’s time to turn you over.”
Once when I was a teen sleeping a Saturday away, she lured me with a cheerful call from the kitchen: “The Red Cross was here, and they brought doughnuts.”
One morning I took two pretzel sticks from a bowl of them on the kitchen counter, looked in the bathroom mirror to arrange them like vampire fangs, headed back toward the kitchen with my hands in a scary vampire pose, and met her coming around the corner, her hands in a scary vampire pose, pretzel fangs stuck under her lip.
One Halloween when I was sick, she trick-or-treated for me; another Halloween she dressed up to answer the door and silently handed out candy enshrouded in my red Sears ribcord bedspread and a cheap devil mask; and throughout the year, she would use my brother’s astronaut mask, which had a pane of transparent plastic over the eyes, when she was cutting onions.
She had cut from a magazine a particularly startling photo of Richard Avedon—cropped so only half his face, only one raptor eye, was showing—and for a while we took turns hiding it for each other to find, until she found an unbeatable place that made me yelp when I found it: under the toilet lid.
She let me read at the dinner table.
She was only slightly exasperated with me the time I got gum stuck in my hair because I had tried storing a chewed piece behind my ear like Violet Beauregarde did in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
She dealt gently with me when I called my fifth-grade classmate Midge a bitch.
She dealt gently with me when I yelled variations on the F-word in the basement with all the fury and frustration I had ever hurled into a single word, not realizing the sound would travel through the ductwork; rather than punishing me—the mortification of having been heard by my grandmother was enough—she wanted to learn what had me so angry.
That time in kindergarten when I was trying to play British with Craig Robson and meant to say, “Pip, pip, old chap,” but said, “Tit, tit,” instead, and Craig was worldly enough to know those words and turned me in, she was fascinated to know how I knew British people said that.
For a while she and Craig Robson’s mom, Barbara, (neither of whom was fat) and some of the other neighborhood moms rode together to weekly Weight Watchers meetings, and then to lunch.
There was a time when my strongest yearning toward heaven was the hope of seeing my mother again.
At the visitation the night before her funeral, I felt helpless dismay and betrayal when I saw a gaggle of church women in the corner, listening to the one who five minutes earlier had asked me what happened, and whose seeming concern for me now looked like gossip-gathering; and I wanted to choke the insurance salesman church member who had done several unethical things to try to get my parents’ business and who kept standing there in his plaid sport coat talking, holding up the line of people who wanted to speak to us, unable to see how uncomfortable he was making my father; and I wanted to smite the stranger (who I recently learned was no stranger but my father’s Uncle Frank) who thought he was paying a compliment when he called my mother’s body a beautiful corpse; and I was already weary of church people fishing for more when they said they’d heard I was in D.C. when she died—was I there on business?—and telling them I was visiting a friend, which was true, although I had also gone for a pro-choice march that weekend, a march that took place while I made the stunned, disbelieving, desperate drive home; so it was a balm and a benediction and a heart-healing kindness when Barbara Robson (who had also gone with Mom and some other moms to NOW meetings for a brief season in the 1970s) simply said, “So, you were in Washington,” and I simply said yes, and she smiled and said, “I’m glad you were there.”
There was a time when my strongest yearning toward heaven was the hope of seeing my mother again.
Hers is the most worn modern Bible I have ever seen, but outside of church I seldom witnessed her reading it.
I never heard her pray.
When I was 11, after the family had stopped going to church, she started sending me to church camp each summer, and it’s been within the last five years that it finally dawned on me that the flicker of something on her face the year I greeted her and Dad at the end of the week with the news “I got baptized!” might have been disappointment that she didn’t get to witness a watershed she probably had prayed for.
She sang to me when I couldn’t sleep: “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” and something by Peter, Paul and Mary, and “My Grandfather’s Clock,” which I would request even though, or perhaps because, it made me cry.
She sang “Hey, babe, wanna boogie?” because she liked John Hartford, whom we had seen in concert at Wheeling College, and because, I think, she knew the gravity-defying magical realism of the line “We could boogie on the ceiling if you think you might be able” (a line she might have made up) thrilled me.
She kept a radio in the kitchen and listened to the top 40 while she washed dishes, and whenever Michael Martin Murphey’s “Wildfire” came on, she would pretend she didn’t notice, until the chorus’s melisma of “Wi-i-i-i-i-ild-fi-ire,” which she sang loud and off-key just to annoy me.
She didn’t interfere the time Dad beat the breath out of me for something I didn’t do.
She didn’t spank me ever again after the day she broke a wooden spoon across my backside, the handle still in her hand, the jagged bowl skittering across the linoleum with a cold sound that frightened us both.
The way she expressed anger was not to express it.
When she decided it was time for me to know about sex, she gave me a book for Christmas, The Wonderful Story of How You Were Born.
When she drank—at social events, maybe once a year—she asked for a gin and tonic; at home her drink of indulgence was Pepsi in her tall mug with a peacock on it, tilted, two ice cubes, the pop poured slowly down the inside.
When she was a bank teller, she was moved up to the second window, the one that got the most traffic.
She built a library of quilting fabric and organized it by hue and tint; she had made several quilts as gifts and was finally working on one for herself.
She loved the ocean, and I think the most joyous I ever saw her was the morning the two of us rented bicycles and explored Rehoboth Beach on what would turn out to be her last summer vacation; and if there is one thing in my life I could go back and do over again, it would be—how to say it? how to lay down this beachstone of regret I’ve carried for 22 years?—to not have preferred biking alone the next morning.
My brother’s grail quest is to bake an apple pie like Mom’s.
She loved going to weekend matinees with the two of us, and she so prized theater naps that after the first time, we were always instructed not to wake her if she fell asleep, which is why she sat through The Empire Strikes Back without ever seeing Yoda.
She liked to stay and watch the credits.
She loved well-made, handcrafted things and warmed her home with pottery, hand-loomed rugs, a Shaker box, all bought at one or another of the arts-and-crafts festivals we went to each year, purchases she often followed by saying, “This will be yours when I kick off.”
She won the Bausch & Lomb science award in high school, as did my brother, who didn’t know Mom had won it until we found hers while cleaning out her dresser after she died.
For a few years, after heavy rain or seasonal winds would leave their debris around our corner lot, she wouldn’t just tidy the sidewalk; she would sweep our edge of the street.
When I was in graduate school and someone at a social event asked my parents about their children, Dad, the parent who thought compliments went to our heads, said I was a professional student; Mom, the encourager, countered, “Frank thinks everyone who went past the eighth grade is a professional student.”
She had learned to drive as a teenager, in a boyfriend’s car, but she had let her license lapse and did not drive, though she did all the navigating on trips, because it made my father nervous to drive in unfamiliar places.
Her two younger brothers had gone to college, and she was finally going to go that fall in a program at Wheeling College designed for life-seasoned students, and when Dad and I went to the mall to get him new shoes for the funeral, we stopped by the salon and canceled the hair appointment she had scheduled so she could have new hair when she picked out glasses at her eye appointment, so she could have a fresh prescription when she took the vision test to get her learner’s permit, so I could teach her how to drive the Dodge she had bought a week before she died, so she wouldn’t have to rely on anyone to get her to school and back, but in which she had never done more than sit in the driver’s seat and imagine where she would go.
In the journal I gave her for what turned out to be her last Christmas, the last entry, three days before she died, is The car’s here. That’s the first step. Got to save some money fast.
In the mid-1970s she was so impressed by a 60 Minutes piece on Bonnie Consolo, a woman damaged by thalidomide who drove, shopped, and cooked with her feet, that she taught herself to pick things up with her feet—in case she ever lost the use of her hands, she said, but her Mona Lisa smile when she practiced this feat hinted that it was more for the novelty and satisfaction of accomplishing something unnecessary and remarkable.
It’s not true that she didn’t like to have her picture taken, though one member of my family often says this, based on the fact that she appears in so few; the truth is she appears in so few because she was usually the one holding the camera.
In our next to last conversation, we quarreled.
She told me sometimes when she was reading—and I think when she said this she was reading Susan Sheehan’s Is There No Place on Earth for Me?, or I might have made that up—she would think, “Maybe this is the kind of book Laura will write someday.”
Among the accounts with her name on them at the bank, there was a recently opened savings account with a balance of $9.
She asked me several times to read Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry, not quite to the point of persistence, not nagging or begging, but with a quiet unspoken pleading—she loved it, and she wanted to talk about it with someone she knew would love it too; I had read The Last Picture Show, and I knew I would like the writing enough to ride along with the plot (I understood it was not a Louis L’Amour type of Western), but I didn’t, and I’m not sure why; maybe it was just the resistance that even an adult child feels when a parent asks her to do something optional—I could feel her yearning, and maybe that scared or dismayed me in ways I still can’t name, or maybe I thought I had too many other “important” things I wanted to read, this being the years I was in grad school and had developed a bookaholic habit of acquiring them faster than I could ever read them, a habit that is yet uncured, which is sometimes serendipitous, because on one of the four bookshelves in my bedroom, here is her swaybacked copy, which I still haven’t read, but which I’ve already possessed by writing my name in, and when I finally start reading the first page—such a simple, easy thing to do, no resistance at all—oh God, forgive me, I’m hooked by the first sentence and smitten by a half-sentence in the middle of the second paragraph, “Pigs on the porch just made things hotter,” and by the second chapter I understand she probably wanted to talk about the affection the writer bore for these characters, and his attention to their interior lives, which is probably the same reason she begged me to read some Barbara Pym, and now that I’ve passed 50 myself, maybe by reading this book I can put away the security blanket of regrets and wallow no more in the same pond that made child-me ask for a song I knew would make me cry.
At her funeral, when the preacher began his eulogy, he called her by my name.
The turquoise felt-tip pen I gave her with that journal still writes.
This essay was originally printed in the Iowa Review.
Mother’s day is a day dedicated to all mothers, celebrates every year to honor the mother and motherhood. It is celebrated annually on second Sunday of May to remember and honor mother’s responsibilities in the family and society.
Essay on Mother’s Day
As we all know that a mother has very special place in the heart of her kids. Why not, she really deserves it. She takes care of her child about everything at each moment. Let your kids be prepared for the essay writing competition on Mother’s Day on the event of Mother’s Day celebration this year. We have provided here various simply worded essay on Mother’s Day. You can select any Mother’s Day essay for your children:
Mother’s Day Essay 1 (100 words)
Mother’s Day is a happiest and highly memorable day of the year for every kids, children and students. Mother’s day is a special day of the year which has been dedicated for all mothers of the India. Mother’s Day is celebrated every year on second Sunday in the month of the May. This year in 2015, it would be celebrated on 10th of May (second Sunday) with lots of joy and happiness. Kids become very happy at this day and celebrate in front of their mothers at home or in school in order to honour their mothers.
Mother’s Day Essay 2 (150 words)
Mother’s Day is celebrated every year to give honour to mothers as well as respect her motherhood. It is celebrated at second Sunday in the month of May annually. Mothers are especially invited to come to their kid’s school to celebrate. Teachers start preparation for the mother’s day with lots of activities. Some students prepare rhyme in Hindi or English, essay writing, some lines of Hindi or English conversation, poem, speech, etc activities. At this day mothers go to the school of their kids and involve in the celebration.
Classrooms get decorated by the teachers and students to welcome mothers. It is celebrated in different countries at different dates and days however, in India it is celebrated at second Sunday of the May month. Kids give a special invitation card (prepared by them own) to their mothers and invite to come to their school at proper decided time. They give surprise to their mothers by giving them some unexpected gifts.
Mother’s Day Essay 3 (200 words)
Mothers Day is a day when every child celebrates it especially for their mothers. It is celebrated annually as an important event of the year on second Sunday of the May month. Now-a-days, it has been a trend to celebrate mother’s day in the schools in the presence of their kids. Mother gets greeting cards, wishing cards or other special gifts by their kids. At this day, family members go outside to have some delicious dinner and get more enjoy. Mothers also give some gifts and lots of love and care to their kids.
Mothers are especially invited by their kids to the school where teachers, kids and mother enjoy celebrating the mother’s day. Both mothers and kids do some activities to fully enjoy this day. Mothers prepare some special dishes like macaroni, chawmin, sweets, biscuits, etc for their kids according to their interest. Mothers also participate in some other activities like dancing, singing, speech, etc. Kids take part in the rhyme recitation, oral conversation, dancing, singing, essay writing, etc related to the mother’s day. In the end of celebration, mothers serve their especially prepared dishes to all students of the classroom and teachers. Everyone eat and enjoy conjointly.
Mother’s Day Essay 4 (250 words)
A mother is everyone’s best friend because she takes care of everything we need. So, to say her thanks and give her respect, a day of the year has been dedicated to the mother and celebrated as Mother’s day every year. We cannot live without our mothers and her caring love. She cares us so much, she becomes happy when we laugh and she becomes sad when we weep. She is only one in this world who never leaves us alone. She is fully devoted to us like on one else in whole world.
In India mother’s day is celebrated every year on 2nd Sunday of the May month. Everyone at home get together to enjoy this day and eat delicious dinner at home or outside the home. All the family member gives gifts to the mother and say her very happy Mother’s Day. Our mothers become always at home for us. From the birth of us till her last moment of life, she cares us like a small child. We cannot count her contribution in our lives. Even we cannot count her daily activities from early morning till night.
She has lots of responsibilities and does all continuously without getting tired. She is the one whom job is unlimited without any fix job time and work. We cannot give her anything in return however we can say her big thanks and give lots of respects and care. We should always love and care our mothers and obey her all orders.
Mother’s Day Essay 5 (300 words)
Mother’s day is a very special day of the year for both kids and mother. It is being celebrated since many years every year on the second Sunday of the month of May in India. It is celebrated by the teachers and students in the schools by inviting mothers. Students take part in many cultural activities to impress their mothers. Mothers are especially invited to school by their kids on the order of school Principal and teachers. At this day mothers are given lots of gifts, love and respects by their kids. Kids prepare special poem recitation or conversation in Hindi or English for their mothers.
Mother’s day is celebrated in many countries at different days in order to highlight mother’s role in our everyday life. All mothers play lots of great role in the life of their kids from giving birth to making them a well being human. It is only mother who shapes the child’s character and then whole life. Every mother plays a great role in the growth and development of their child. She takes care about everything what a kid want. She understands herself fully responsible for her child from waking up in the morning till sleeping in the night.
She awake us in the early morning, help in brushing, bathing, preparing breakfast and lunch for school, dress up us, go to our PTM, help us in home work, give food, milk and fruits at proper time, give medicine at right time when we become ill, wash and iron our clothes, play football with us in the home play ground, she make us sleep in the night at proper time, prepare delicious dinner to us and other lots of activities. Actually we cannot count our mother’s daily activities. She does unlimited works for whole day long. She is only responsible for all works of all members of the family. Simply, we can say mothers are great.
Mother’s Day Essay 6 (400 words)
Our mothers are like a security blanket to us because she saves us from all problems. She never regards her own problems and listens to us all time. In order to give her respect, second Sunday of May month has been dedicated for her to celebrate the mother’s day. This event is of great importance to us and our mothers. At this day we should keep our mothers happy and never make her sad. We should always obey her and do works properly. She always wants to make us a good human being in the life.
A big programme is organized in our school every year on mother’s day to celebrate it conjointly. Our teachers help us in getting prepared for the mother’s day occasion. We learn lots of poem, rhyme, essay, speech, conversation, etc for the celebration of this occasion. We are really blessed by the God with a caring and loving mother. Without mothers our lives are nothing. We are so lucky as we have mother. We give lots of special gifts to our mother and she gives us lots of love and care. Out teachers give us an invitation card to invite our mother at school and be the glory of the occasion.
Mothers do lots of activities in the classroom like dancing, singing, poem recitation, speech, etc for our happiness. We too take part in the celebration and show our talent (such as poem recitation, essay writing, speech, dance, singing, etc) in front of the mother and teacher. Our mothers bring lot of delicious dishes with them to the school. At the end of the celebration, we all enjoy eating those delicious dishes together with our teachers and mothers. We are served with variety of dishes by our mothers.
Our mothers are very special. Even after being tired she always smiles for us. She tells us different poems and stories while sleeping in the night. She helps us in preparing our project works and home works and helps us during exam time. She takes care of our uniform and school dress. She teaches us to eat anything only after proper hand wash with soap and water. She teaches us good manners, etiquettes, morality, humanity and helping others always in the life. She takes care of my father, grandparents and my small sister. We all too love her too much and take her outside weekly with all family members.
Mother’s Day Quotes
Slogans on Mother’s Day
Speech on Mother’s Day
Essay on Mother
Rhymes on Mother
Slogans on Mother