Goddess mug shot The Goddess Speaks

Carol Chun

Aspiring to be like
Mama is a good thing

I gave both my sisters and my daughter lipstick mirrors -- not the cheap kind, but very special lipstick mirrors from Limoge. The back of the mirrors read, "Mirror, mirror on the wall. I am my mother after all."

The first time I saw one, I laughed out loud. I thought it was the funniest, most appropriate thing I could buy for them. First of all, turning into your mother would say to the world: "Look at me. I'm old. I make my children crazy."

You can imagine how my 24-year-old daughter reacted. The last thing she wants is to turn into me.

For the most part, I won't mind turning into my mother. Mama is a feisty 92-year-old who still lives alone and manages to keep busy. She and Pop raised five children. Pop died in 1988, but I think she still greets him when she walks in the door.

She can tell you exactly how many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren she has, and she remembers all of their names. She remembers their birthdays and sends cards with money taped inside.

MAMA DOESN'T get around as well as she once did, but she's been known to offer her cane to her son and sons-in-law. She figures they need it more than she does, and she's right. She remembers names and places -- we know because she tells the same stories in the same way.

Her mind is sharper than ever; she's even remembering things from her childhood and especially loves to talk about her horse, Jimmy. She grew up in Pauoa Valley when it was little more than taro patches, and she went to school in a one-room schoolhouse that was still standing in the middle of the graveyard when I attended Pauoa School in the '50s.

Mama is sorting through her things and passing along things that she thinks we might want. We worry that she's getting ready to go, but she says she wants to get rid of the clutter. So, I stop and think, What is my foremost memory of my mother going to be?

Watching her serve handfuls of poi in the Pauoa School lunch line on May Day? Slathering spoonfuls of her gravy on mashed potatoes? The gravy was thick and smooth, and the mashed potatoes had just the right amount of un-mashed pieces.

Her pot roast when I came home from the hospital after giving birth to my daughter? Watching her walk with my son as he gently guides her along? I'll have many memories, and I can only hope that someday I will be my mother.

Carol Chun is a mother of two who works at Punahou School.

The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and
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