On her birthday…
My mom wore an apron every day of her life. For as far back as I can remember, I associate my mom with aprons. She wore one when she was at home, most days from the time she got up until she finished washing the last dinner dish. Usually not the full over the shoulder, cover the chest kind, just a half apron tied at the waist. She had work aprons for doing household chores, afternoon aprons, for when the chores were done and she would sit and relax for an hour or so before my dad got home. She had frilly Sunday aprons, sheer or lacy holiday aprons. Really, an apron for every occasion. She is always in my heart, but just seeing someone in an apron often brings my mom to the front of my mind.
Mom could be strict – stricter than most of my friends’ mother, really. Things friends were allowed to do, like stay out late, even as a teenager, I was not. She insisted I dress conservatively when it was not in fashion, but not to the point of sacrificing fashionable trends. She taught me to respect myself rather than flaunt myself.
But she had goofy and crazy side, too. And she was really big into doing things with me as a child. She would sit and play with me. She kept updated on the best toys so she could get them for me. And she kept Santa real for me through a lot of elaborate fancy footwork probably long past the time she should have. Later, she helped me do the same for my own children. We would go to community parties and sing-alongs at Christmas. She helped me craft awkward but fun Halloween costumes. She threw birthday parties for me – even went above and beyond the year I had chicken pox on my birthday to invite kids whose parents knew they’d already had the dreaded itchy bumps. And when no friends were around because they’d gone on vacation or to summer camp, she made sure we did things together, just the two of us, like going to Sanders for ice cream sundaes.
I was not allowed more than goldfish when I was a young child because my mom was a little afraid of animals. But she helped me put together the best fish tank ever, and she did more of the cleaning out of that thing than I did. And when I was old enough to force a pet on the family, a gray cat with a tip on his tail with the unoriginal name of Tippy-Tip, she made me take full responsibility for him even as she slipped him treats of cod and haddock. And when I moved out, she insisted it would upset the cat too much for him to move with me.
We were best friends, confidants, mother and daughter. We spent time shopping together, plotting get-togethers, watching the same shows and gossiping about them. She is the one who started my love for reading. I remember being a child of about four years when she sat and read Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to me. And she would give me household chores so I could earn an allowance, which she would then happily take me to spend on a new book from the book department at Hudson’s. She would also read those books with me or after me so we could talk about them. And if I didn’t quite have enough for a particular book, she slipped me the difference on loans that she never collected on.
She was so in love with my dad. They were the true definition of soul mates. She was so happy with him, even when she was ticked off at something he did or didn’t do, and he treated her like gold. When he died, some of her light went out, and it was 20 years before she followed him into eternity.
Everything I knew about being a mom, I learned from her. My parenting mistakes were all originals that I made on my own. She watched my kids if I needed to run to the store and later when I had to go back to work. And she put the same effort and same quality of energy into my children as she had put into me.
Audrey May Turner Springsteen
December 6, 1925 ~ January 3, 2009