Wednesday, August 1, 2007

My Beautiful Mother and Serve the Man

My mom is 92 years old. She is very ill. I am visiting her this week.

I look at her and my heart breaks. When I was a teenager I always thought of her as a strong and vital woman.

Today, as I gaze at her laying so ill in her hospital bed, she looks as tiny as an eight year old child. My mother. My mama. I remember her words, "You must serve the man." I always rebelled at such thoughts. I wanted to be "That Girl." I didn´t want to serve the man.

I held her hand. She gazed at me, pure love in her eyes. "Beautiful. You are so beautiful." she whispered, words barely leaving her lips.

I wondered, "Who she was looking at?" I was the only one in the room and I was sleepless, no makeup and no hair in place.

"Mama. Mama. I love you." Is all I could respond. I stroked her hair and saw a shining light in her eyes.

Since her strokes last year, she has reverted to the mind of a small child, but she is still my beautiful Mama.

I kept thinking back to the days when she said, "Serve the man." I always took her words so literally. When I think about them now, I have to think there was so much more to her words.

When I think of her relationship with Dad, she was never subservient. Of course she cooked, tended house and cared for all of us children, but she and Dad were in love. They were always equal. Equal!!

My beautiful Mama, so strong all of her life, now laying here so fragile in her bed.


ultima said...

So what do you think she meant when she said, "Serve the man" if she didn't really do that in any subservient way. Some religious denominations believe women should be subservient in some way to their husbands -- Southern Baptists, Mormons and others.

That's not for me. I prefer the partnership where each contributes according to his or her ability and preference.

Dee said...

I think, possibly, it meant Honor your husband. Respect him. Treat him as you want to be treated. In her day, she was taught, from the time she was a child, to cook, clean and tend to the house. I also think it means respect yourself as a woman, though not as strong, stand proud in being a caring wife and mother.

Sometimes, I wonder about life. Mom is 92 years old and had such a full life. Now, as I look at her and hear the words her doctors say, words like, "it is very typical for people her age to eat very little, then, eventually to stop eating." It just makes you wonder about life in general. Is it so typical, as he says, for everyone who is lucky enough to have a long life to end up so fragile? Do any of us ever even think about it. Should we think about it? I don´t know.

Lou said...

I think your mom meant what she told you literally---"You must serve the man" Being of that generation, she was brought up to "serve the man" Your parents may have been in love but odds are she was subservient. It's nothing to be ashamed of, those were the times.

Lou said...

It sounds like your mom was subservient and meant what she said when she said "serve the man".
Your mom is of a generation that felt this way. No doubt your parents loved each other, but being subservient was her role for that generation.

Dee said...

You may be right Lou. Those were different times back then. When she was growing up and her mother taught her to serve the man, there was nothing, no media, no TV, Internet, to suggest otherwise. However, even when they did come along, she never changed her perspective.

It is not shame I am feeling, more regret I didn´t listen to her and thought her instructions were ridiculous. Those times formed my perspectives and approach to business and life. I wish I would have started studying our family history twenty or thirty years ago, when I was still forming my perspectives.

Back a few years ago, when I taped her providing our family history, she told me "You were the most obstinate so I always gave you more to do." As a teenager, I used to always ask her "why" and then pushback and say, "well that is not what we learned in school, or that was not what it said on the news."

Mom always heaped piles of housework and hours of coaching cooking and sewing. I did it but didn´t enjoy it.

When I look at her now, in her condition, and I think of all the hard times she had as a child, I wish I would have listened to her more.

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