My mother’s birthday is today.
She would have been 98!
Since I’m thinking about her, I thought I’d make her a Facebook profile. I think she’d like it. It might look like this:
Name: Caroline Elise. She had one or two more middle names which I no longer remember. Her birth certificate lists only Elise.
City of birth: Metropolis, IL, all the way down on the southern border. Yes, THAT Metropolis, home of Superman. My mother grew up outside of town, and it’s pretty small (pop. 6,482 as of the year 2000 census).
How she left home: my mother was the only one in her family to go to college. She left home with $8 in her pocket, found a job, and sent home for her trunk.
Most distinguishing characteristic: her hair! She had the same hair as mine. Many people from Friesland, where my ancestors are from, have very finely textured blonde hair. It’s slightly wavy, but the second the wind blows, it goes completely straight.
Most unusual word: cattywampus (means “kitty corner,” and it’s not in the dictionary). The only other person I’ve heard say this is from Lexington, KY.
Best spelling: M-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-crooked letter-crooked letter-I-humpback-humpback-I. (Get it? That spells “Mississippi.”)
Funny thing she did: She loved to write silly poems on family birthday cards. They were really bad, eliciting groans every time. And she knew they were bad. But I know she had fun writing them.
How she got me to vacuum the furniture: by hiding change under the couch cushions! I thought for a long time that people had lost change from their pockets.
When I was sick: whenever I had a fever, she would make orange-flavored slivered ice. I still don’t know how she did it. It was so good.
Favorite activity: riding her bike to the park and back with her friends Ellie and Edith.
Favorite food: tomatoes! She was still eating entire platefuls in August, long after everyone else was tired of them.
Favorite flower: dogwood.
What I admired most: her unwavering integrity and incredible determination.