Monday marks three years since my mother died.
And such a date as that on the calendar physically and in my head and heart mentally and emotionally just naturally musters memories.
Now that’s not to say I don’t think of her other times than on the anniversary of her death on Feb. 8, 2018.
Not true, ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Lots of things trigger memories.
Exhibit A. Take this big old crock jug in my living room. It’s purely decoration now, a lovely accent piece with a dried wheat grass and flower arrangement in it, but mom used it, minus any adornments, for something quite different.
It was part of the Ruth Ann Hout home security system.
I would kid her about this after I made the discovery, having witnessed her in later years intent on this evening ritual, first locking the front door, then lugging this big old crock jug across the living room and pushing it against the door.
What are you doing, mom?
God bless her for the exertion of energy that required, not to mention the presence of mind she had to use it as a crime deterrent and weapon against a home invasion.
Imagine an intruder’s surprise to have a tough time opening the front door and then, I don’t know, tripping over a big old crock jug, and one with not a single fake flower in it. Yikes, what kind of joint is this?
It reminds me of Kevin’s strategy in “Home Alone.”
With some frequency I come across unusual things my mother collected, scrapbooks full of this and that, including placemats from restaurants of all things. Are there other sons and daughters out there who have mothers who kept such things — a clean version, of course?
One from a restaurant in the south — E.P. Murphy’s Sea Food Restaurant — advertised its fish and seafood as “If it’s fresher than Murphy’s, it’s still swimming.” I don’t know what year this is from, but I’m guessing it was a while back, given a cup of coffee was a whopping 10 cents and a seafood platter went for $2.75.
Then there are, not surprisingly, the “educational” placemats, one in particular that, for instance, lists varied and thought-provoking Dutch proverbs: “Kissin’ wears out — cookin’ don’t,” “Shut on the light,” “Throw the cow over the fence some hay” and “Ve get too soon oldt — und too late schmart.”
Others featured famous trains, covered bridges and a salute to mom’s home state with West Virginia’s centennial marked in 1963.
Add to that her stash of olden-day things that would be part of an ongoing display of “What Am I?” at the Crew House Museum in Richmond. It would challenge visitors to identify something, and if they were stumped, they could turn over an index card and have the mystery solved.
I came across one of those items not long ago and asked Better Half if he knew what it was.
It’s a vintage sock darner, I told him. You know, you use this when you repair holes in the heels of socks, I explained to a husband who’s still waiting for his wife to sew buttons back on his favorite flannel shirt.
Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out, so the saying goes.
I catch myself thinking as I know my mother probably would in a particular situation or offering an unsolicited opinion when silence might be more prudent.
Sometimes I sport a facial expression I’m pretty sure mirrors one of hers.
Mom’s been gone for nearly three years, yes.
But she hasn’t been far from my thoughts.
(Kiaski, a resident of Richmond, is a staff columnist and community editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times. She can be contacted at [email protected].)
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