2018-05-11 / Commentary

Memories of Mama

I’m just saying...
Julia Rogers Hook

When I was little there was a Mother’s Day tradition in our church that if your mother was alive, you wore a red rose, and if your mother had passed you wore white. I always thought it was a sweet idea, and I loved how every year my father would get my mom and me both a red rose corsage. It made me feel “grown up” to walk into the church every Mother’s Day with my pretty red roses on.

Every year, the week before Mother’s Day, Daddy and I would go on our “secret” shopping trip to find Mama the “perfect” gift for her big day. Of course my gifts got better as I grew up because let’s face it…how many Popsicle-stick photo frames or clay ash trays does anyone really need?

On the Saturday before the big day, we’d always do our “primping” for church on Sunday. We’d wash and roll our hair on those little pink foam curlers and polish our fingers and toes. We’d carefully pick out our outfits and we’d give ourselves a “facial.”

While Mama probably actually did have a real facial, she would let me slather my face with Noxzema or Pond’s cold cream, and we’d sit around with all that goop on our faces while our newly polished hands and feet dried.

Daddy would usually be watching television as all this was going on so we’d have our “girl talk time” on these nights. We’d look through fashion magazines and pick out and discuss the clothes claiming to be “the next big thing in fashion.”

It was always such fun and as a little girl I loved playing “young lady” with my Mama. And every year, Daddy would pretend he “forgot” to get the corsages, and he’d tell us we’d “just have to wear weeds” to church.

When I moved away to California, I always sent her flowers because she loved them. And the flowers always included red roses. She had a group of her church lady friends who would always compare their Mother’s Day gifts, and I knew I’d better not mess that up! Her flowers had better look good because she’d have Daddy take a picture of them to show her girlfriends!

When Polaroid cameras arrived on the scene, the flower pressure really increased, but it was fine. I wanted her flowers to be the best as much as she did.

As I remember those days now, I sometimes wish I could jump back in time during one of those Saturday nights, but more than that, I wish Mama and Daddy were still here. I would love to spend just one more Saturday “primping” with Mama and listening to my Dad tell us one more time he’d find us some “blooming weeds” to wear to church.

More than that, I’d love for Mama and Daddy to meet my husband Marty and my step-son Van. They would be over the moon that “little Julia Lynne” had FINALLY “settled down” and grown up.

My mother would have adored Marty and being a grandmother. That’s what she and Daddy always wanted for me. I can just imagine my Dad and Marty watching football together and cheering on their beloved Gamecocks while Mama was whipping up something tasty in the kitchen “for the boys.”

I so wish I could make that scenario a reality, but, of course, it’s impossible. When I was a teenager and then a young woman, I would sometimes scoff at Mama’s suggestions that I “find someone to love.”

“Oooh Motherrrrr….” I would retort with a sniff and a dismissal. I was immortal and had youth on my side. I had plenty of time, I would tell her. And her reply was always the same every time.

“You can say what you want Julia, but I’m right about this. I’m right about a lot. One of these days you’ll realize that.”

And now, after 14- years of a happy marriage and some pretty clumsy yet loving step-mothering, there were many times when I wish I could have talked to her…sought out her advice and wisdom or asked her opinions. As ironic as it is since she’s not here anymore, I can now unequivocally say yes… MY MOTHER WAS RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING!

I sure hope she can hear me.

Happy Mother’s Day.

Return to top