At this time of year, we’re supposed to sing the praises of our dear, sainted Mothers, who are one part June Cleaver, one part Marge Simpson, one part Julie Andrews and a healthy dollop of St. Mary.
I would do all of that, except that’s not what my mother is like, at all.
My mother – or “Moeder” as we call her – would have taken June Cleaver’s lunch money, told Julie Andrews to go fly a kite and would tell Marge Simpson to get over herself. Moeder is a battleship with a walker. An MMA fighter in sensible slacks.
Moeder has always been that way.
When I was a kid, growing up in Oshawa in the early 70s, our street was like a post-war immigrant petri dish. We had Germans on one side of us, Italians on the other and the British across the street. What they all had in common was that none of the moms worked. They were the kind of bored suburban housewives that picked up the milk bottles from the side stoop in housecoats and curlers, and lunched together smoking cigarettes and watching soaps.
Not Moeder. As soon as I was old enough to walk home from school (that is – able to walk three blocks in city traffic by myself twice a day – so, five years old) she took a job at a nursing home as a health care aid. It was tough work, lifting and feeding and helping old people, many of whom didn’t speak English. She was one of the first working moms in our neighbourhood.
Moeder spent her career working in old age homes. When we moved to Niagara, she took a job that was a 30-minute drive away. She made that drive every day, in rain and snow, and even got T-boned by another car once. In high school, she drove me to school every day in her 4-cylinder Pontiac, radio blasting when she pulled into the parking lot, wheels spitting gravel on her way out.
SHARP FOR ANY AGE
Occasionally, Moeder would challenge guests to a board game or a friendly game of cards. We kids stopped playing against her in the mid-80s. Moeder knows only one way to play games – total annihilation. My dad always let us kids win. Not Moeder. She’d roll dice with her charm bracelet clanking like the chains of Marley’s ghost, and call the number she wanted while the dice were still spinning. And like some lucky riverboat gambler, the dice would roll her way. They still do. And none of us will play her, still. A few weeks back my wife and I taught her a new card game, and Moeder thrashed us in the second game – and every game after that.
Moeder isn’t just determined to win at games, she’s determined to win at life. Meaning, she has to have the latest gadgets. Her Google Home – programmed to speak Dutch – is just one of the ways she stays current. We often tell her to stop playing on social media when she’s with family like she’s the world’s oldest 16-year old. She always has three books on the go. She’s not just sharp for her age, she’s sharp for any age – and she lives her life with a passion most people don’t have at 60, let alone 90-something.
Nope, Moeder is no saint. And thank God for that.
Because our mom is a strong, complex and hard-working woman who doesn’t have any “quit” in her. She’s fiercely loyal to her family, passionate about her faith and – since dad died 15 years ago – she’s the glue holding our family together, one Facebook post at a time. She was leading a conga line at my 50th birthday. She hops on board my sister’s sailboat at a moment’s notice. She’s an unstoppable, unflappable force of nature. And all us kids want to grow up to be just like her.
So you can have your June Cleavers and your Madonnas, your prissy Julie Andrewses and your neurotic Marge Simpsonses – I’ll take Audrey Rang every time. Because there has never been – and will never be – a mom as full of joy, and life, and just a pinch of devilry – as my mom.
Happy Moeder’s Day.
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