Category Archives: Mothers

My Mother’s Hands

When I was a child everyone said I looked like my daddy and I agreed. As I became an adult I thought I resembled my Aunt Olga, Daddy’s sister, and her older daughter. I’ve even been accused by elders in my father’s family of being someone from the “old country.”

Imagine my surprise when I began to notice Mother’s reflection in my mirror, or her smile in my photograph, or her opinions in my freely-given advice. But the most frequent reminder of my mother is my hands. They are her hands—the coloring, the way the veins are more visible when I’m stressed, the curve of the fingers, even my fingernails (if only on one hand).

Mother’s hands were her creative tools. She embroidered. She painted, both canvas and ceramics. She sewed clothes for me until I was a young adult. She crocheted.

When I was a young girl she created my clothes, my dancing costumes, and doll clothes with her Brother Sewing Machine. For at least thirty years, she oiled and cleaned that machine before and after each use.

As I moved into my teens and later when she retired, she turned to all types of craft projects: ceramics, embroidery, needle point, crocheting, and ceramic dolls. I have boxes full of unfinished kits in my garage. Maybe someday maybe I’ll finish them.

The bookshelves and walls of my home are full of her work, all completed with precision, artistry, and unconditional love. So when I glance at my hands and see my mother’s, I take a tour through her museum.

That’s when I realize how special she was and how grateful I am for my time with her and for all the items she left behind, including that unconditional love I mentioned.

Mother’s Maxims

Remember all those cool sayings your mom doled out when you were a kid? Did you understand her point? Do you use them today in the same way? When you hear your mom’s words pop into your head and/or out of your mouth how do you feel?

My mother did not curse or use “bad words” in front of me. I suspect she didn’t use them behind my back either. What she did contribute were short & precious life lessons.

Here are the ones I remember fondly and may have used myself a time or two.

    1. Six of one, half a dozen of another This was one of her most used adages. Today it has been replaced by “Whatever!” but I still use Mom’s occasionally.
    2. Your eyes are always bigger than your stomachPronounced when I served myself so much of something to eat that I could not finish it. She was always right.
    3. You can catch more flies with sugar than vinegar Clearly my favorite and one I use a lot. She used it not only to scold me but to point out someone else’s faux pas.
    4. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face Apparently one of my greatest sins as I heard this one often. As an adult that little voice inside my head warns me I’m about to do something rash.
    5. It’s easier to tell the truth than to remember the lie I was always impressed with how she discerned my little fibs. I quickly realized that the truth, while sometimes painful, brought a lesser punishment.
    6. Better to be early than to make someone else waitShe used this as a mantra for herself (and perhaps to teach me) so as not to be really irritated at someone who was late to meet her.
    7. You get what you pay for There were many variations, but I learned that it is always better to buy one item that costs a bit more, is of higher quality, and will last longer, than to replace a cheaper item multiple times.
    8. Little pitchers have big ears I remember this one from my early years. It didn’t make sense to me until I was older because I heard “pictures” rather than “pitchers.” She would proclaim it to someone else as she nodded in my direction. Personally, I’ve never said – or even thought – the maxim in any situation. Maybe we Baby Boomers are the full-disclosure generation.
    9. If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything I never got the hang of this advice although it remains my goal to apply it as well and as often as my mother did.


Mother’s Day

In my early years, it never occurred to me that my mother was special. I mean, I loved her and I appreciated her being around to take care of me, but I didn’t know how special she was until later in life.

Okay, I knew she was a divorced, single mom with a low paying job raising a daughter who wanted to take dancing lessons. But she never complained.  How was I supposed to know how hard it was?

Through my high school years all my friends’ moms were nice enough. Some of them were a little stranger than others, but they all seemed okay to me. I don’t remember any friend complaining beyond being punished for some teenage infraction.

picture of Eva Rigdon Spring 1996

My mother, Eva, Spring 1996

In retrospect, I suppose we all took our parents for granted. We assumed everyone’s mom and dad were like ours—good or bad.

It’s only by extreme comparisons much later in life that I became aware how really nice my mother was and how much she loved and accepted me—no matter what. I realized how lucky I was to be blessed by our relationship.

My stepfather never understood the closeness between my mother and me. He was jealous of all her connections—friends, co-workers, or strangers. But nothing bothered him as much as the unconditional love his wife shared with her only child.  I imagine it’s difficult for anyone who hasn’t experienced that type of closeness to “get it.”

Until my mother passed away in 2000, Mother’s Day was the most important holiday in the year for us. When I lived away from home, I would often fly home on the second Sunday in May.  We rarely shared it with others.  It was our day to spend “quality” time together, even if only by phone.

I miss my mother’s company and support every day, but on Mother’s Day more than any other. If only everyone were so lucky.