Thursday, May 27, 2010
What's Your Mother Taught You?
"Little girl, what's your name?" Lucy freezes and stares at the photographer. It's the Mother/Daughter Tea in Craig's farmland hometown.
"Olive Rose," Lulie says. She blinks wide eyes and buries her face in my lap. The baby squirms. Lulie calls herself Olive now. She calls the baby Olive too. Out there on the green grass a photographer in fancy black snaps photos.
Farm wives and daughters, mothers and grandmothers, great-grandmothers, fill the small church in the small town; wheat fields spread in each direction. Long tables and chairs, bouquets and fine silver, and potluck food, good food, sunlight streams in the windows. We sit and chatter on in the ocean of women. Jane eats fried chicken and Lulie tries to lick chocolate frosting off her fingers and face.
Later I sit in a front pew. A gaggle of girls sings for us. Lulie tries to run off stage.
Then, everyone eyes the basket full of chapsticks, prizes. A woman with pink cheeks asks, "What's something your mother taught you?"
The girls jostle and giggle. One girl blurts, "To plant flowers," and picks a chapstick from the basket.
"To make cookies," says another.
"To obey right away," it's Janie's cousin.
One by one, they file off stage. Jane fidgets and watches the woman. "What about you? What's your mother taught you?" It's the last two girls. The woman looks right at Janie.
"To love people," Janie says.
"To love people," the lady with pink cheeks repeats. She hands Jane a chapstick.
There in the pew, I catch my breath. To love people. Love. People.
Later Craig's gramma wins Woman of the Year. 95 years old and she smiles like a girl of 18. All the while my heart is racing, to love people. To. Love. People. My imperfections swallowed up in grace.