As I see the familiar lines of my mother’s personality begin to grow and branch inside me like a sturdy oak, I feel happy. I feel happy that such a weird, wonderful and theatrical woman is growing in me, like some sort of spooky reverse pregnancy.
She didn’t do everything the way I would have liked. I think that may be the very definition of a mother. But she did a lot of things and said a lot of things that stayed with me, and I’m glad they did.
Here are a few pearls of wisdom, from my mother to me to my daughter and, if you like, to you.
1. “A hairstyle needs to frame your face. It isn’t about length, it’s about shape. Anyone can have long, stringy hair, why would you want that?”
2. “It’s different from, not different than!”
3. “Bend your knees when you land! Protect your joints!”
4. “Pull your shirt straight down to put it on. If you poke your whole face through, you’ll wreck the elastic!”
5. “Scratch around the wound to relieve the itch, not over it. Otherwise you’ll scar.”
6. “You’ll spoil your dinner.”
7. “Disney movies are fake childhood. Watch Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street with me instead. We’ll make popcorn!”
8. “Basting every ten minutes, Formula 409 and rouge are the secrets to life.”
9. “Of course I’m not hurt that you prefer bottled dressing to my oil, vinegar, paprika and salt-from-my-own-tears recipe.”
10. “Never look to the left or right. Just keep your eye on the ball.”
11. “Don’t follow all the rules; only some of them are important.”
I’ll be forty soon, Mom. At last I see the wisdom in ignoring the rules of addition.