One piece of lemon pie and a smile to go please!

by Ellen Loegering

My mother is not magic.  She has been known to drop a leprechaun where he stands with one swipe of her broom, knocking him head over heels, launching him into space, without a backward glance, as she sweeps the kitchen floor.  She has wiped out a “Fairy Village” without so much as a how-do-you-do, while chasing cobwebs with her vacuum.   She has deliberately yanked from her garden complete communities of “Mushroom Cottages” in the blink of an eye.


She is not a woman given to whimsical frolic.  It’s not that she doesn’t understand the concept.  She really does believe in hammocks, willow trees, and babbling brooks on a warm summer afternoon.  She would love to while away pleasant hours watching marshmallow clouds float on a periwinkle sky; to lie sleepily in a hammock listening to the distant hum of the bees, secure in the knowledge that, somewhere close by, Fairies and Elves have dropped in at the “Buttercup Cafe” for a spot of afternoon tea.  She is just so doggedly practical.


We discussed this over lunch recently, this difference in people.  My Father was magic.  It was not so much any particular thing he did, as much as whom he was, how he viewed life.  My Mother, on the other hand, is an umbrella and galoshes kind of person.  Together they created for each other an interesting balance. 


I am the image of my Mother.  I have no need for computer-enhanced imagery to know how I will look as I age.  I am, however, my Father’s daughter. You can well imagine the conflict this created during my growing years.  My very practical, down to earth Mother, desperately tried to teach me the skills she thought I would need to survive in this world.  I wanted her to don “rose-colored” glasses and fly with me to twinkling, sparkling Fairyland.


As we were finishing our lunch, my Mother, looking slightly downcast, mentioned that she, too, had hoped to be remembered for her magical lightheartedness.  Certainly not words of my choosing, but I did understand her dilemma.  In her mind, if one is not magic, one is a drudge.  No one wants to be remembered as a drudge.


My Mother was a child in the Depression.  She grew up at a time in our history when prejudice and hatred were unleashed on this world and went unbridled. Hunger and hopelessness waited around every corner. Lack and fear became constant companions.  Surely Fairyland seemed a faint glow on a very distant horizon.


She is a woman who has always been ahead of her generation. Very early on she realized that the role of women in our society was dramatically changing.  No longer would child rearing and homemaking be their major contribution.  Higher education, job skills, and economic independence would be necessary in planning their future.


My Mother understood the necessity of preserving our natural resources before recycling was a popular notion.  Nothing was ever wasted.  Bottles were returned to the store.  Trash was disposed of properly.  When she was younger, she honored  “Mother Earth” by spending many hours in the garden.  She loved weeding, planting, watering, and turning the earth.  It was her way of creating harmony and symmetry where once there had been chaos.


She is a woman who believes in justice and the democratic process.  If you have breath, you have a voice, if you have a voice stand up and be heard.  One person can still make a difference.


My Mother is a woman who stands responsible for her actions.  She is not given to procrastination.  She knows the importance of keeping her affairs in order, tying up loose ends.   She believes in picking up after herself and taking care of business each day.  If there is something to be done, do it now! 


She is a woman who understands the need for dignity and quality in life.  In the weeks and months following my Father’s stroke she became his champion.  She helped secure every medical treatment or therapy that could return his life, as much as possible, to normal.  As his skills and health improved she dedicated herself to making their remaining time together rich and fulfilling.  She made sure they were “out-and-about” every day.   They went on small vacations or trips to the City.  She took my Father to travel documentaries, lectures, out to lunch, or just out to the local mall for a cup of coffee.  She managed all the necessary equipment to make his life more comfortable, including the wheelchair she wrestled with daily to ensure his freedom of movement.


My Mother never quits, nor is failure an operative word in her vocabulary.  Her philosophy is simple: If you don’t quit, you can’t fail.  There is always a new door to open, a different path to try.  You can’t just sit down and quit, you haven’t been excused.   And it is true, no matter how hard you work, no matter how well you plan and prepare, sometimes life will still hand you a sack of sour lemons.  Then take out the juicer, grate some rind, and start serving up Lemon Meringue pie.  And by the way, as you serve up that pie, put a smile on your face, no one wants to be around a sourpuss.


These are the values, morals, and ethics my Mother instilled in me.  Sometimes subtly, sometimes as subtle as a whack over the head with a sledgehammer.  She was right, of course.   When life did hand me that proverbial sack of sour lemons and all my hopes and dreams came crashing down around my ears, it was from her teachings that I gathered strength.  As I surveyed the wreckage that once had been my life, I drew my new life plan from her lessons:  


“Might be time to recycle, plant a new garden, tie up the loose ends, and throw out the trash.  I won’t leave my mess for someone else to clean up.  I’ll start today.  I’ll pull myself up by the bootstraps and get a move on.  And, oh yes, one piece of Lemon pie and a smile to go please!”


So if it is my Mother’s fervent wish to be remembered for her magic, I will strap on my gossamer wings, whip out my “Fairy’s Wand,” and wave it over her head.   As I do I will say these magic words,  “Mom, all that sparkles is not gold.  Your wish is my command.”