Hi, Mini Mommy,
I’m writing this on Mother’s Day, May 8, 2016. It will be posted on your birthday, May 9, 2016.
I want to say thank you for so many things you did to help me grow into a responsible and, I hope, caring adult. You made me take responsibility for my actions from the time I was old enough to know right from wrong. If I messed up and did something wrong, you sat me down and “reasoned” with me until I know what I’d done and why it was wrong. My friends’parents whopped them a good on the butt, made them say “I’m sorry” even when fingers were crossed behind their backs and sent them on their ways. Not you, Mini Mommy. You learned early on that spanking never worked but quiet talking about my behavior was more likely to have a lasting effect.
You were a single mother raising a single-minded kid. I wasn’t the easiest child to be around, and you never let on that I’d disappointed you. I learned early on that one way to make you proud of me was to be a good student. Not necessarily through behavior but through great grades. I was an honors student nearly all my life. You taught me to read when I was three, thereby developing a love of writing and reading the written word that has taken me to being a published author. You taught me to be daring and do things that frightened me. You put me back together when I fell off the hanging bars on the playground and broke my elbow, or when I fell off my horse and broke more bones than is fair to list here. Leave it to say, there were several bones which eventually resulted in arthritis in a couple of lower extremity joints.
You encouraged me to dream “big.” My first big dream was getting into UCLA. As a then out-of-state student, the odds were against me no matter how many honors I accumulated. I had faith that I’d get in. I did. Upon graduation four years later, I dreamed of going to grad school in Japan. Once again, Mini Mommy, you encouraged me to apply. I did and got into one of the best universities in Tokyo, Keio University. Two years later I applied to five US grad schools and got into four of them. I chose USC, ready to be home in Los Angeles again.
We knew we could lean on each other, and we did throughout her entire life with me. When she got sick with terminal cancer, I was there for her as she had been there for me. I miss her every day. I know I’ve retained much of what was good in my mother. Years ago, my dear husband gave me a small plaque to hang on the bedroom door:
Mirror, mirror on the wall,
I am my mother after all.
I am, and damned proud of it. So, on this poignant weekend, I think about my mother. Happy Mother’s Day, Mini Mommy. And Happy 94th Birthday.
P.S., the four-shot is Dr. Aleta Vail, my favorite cousin, my second mother Aunt Betty Vail, Mini Mommy and me. Mini Mommy is standing behind the three of us who are seated. And now you know how she got her nickname. The two-shot is my mother and grandmother, Delia Leeds DePriest.