Tuesday, December 22, 2015


The fine art of aging brings all kinds of perks. Yes, you read that right. Toss aside the aches, fatigue, forgetfulness and incredible ability to gain weight and body fat, and life becomes enlightening.

Age also brings the undeniable reality that all of us will eventually check out of here. I have reached that tender age when many of my friends are experiencing their parents' passing. While attending a memorial for a friend's Mom, and remembering her life, the topic of Momisms came up.

 Momism:  A verbal comment made by a mother, often in a public setting. Usually it is offensive, but always it remains unfiltered and at an elevated volume, thus insuring optimal embarrassment for her child.

Young mothers do not usually participate in this practice. They are too busy managing the care of their many fledglings and unaware of life outside their immediate bubble. Young children will not understand their mothers colloquial comments and there are concerns about Mom's language influencing their budding vocabulary. But once a woman reaches the age where her children become teenagers, the demon is released.

I am fifteen years old and standing in a grocery store line with my mother.  "Look at that," she says out-loud, while pointing to a large man that looks like he just dismounted his Harley to pick up a six-pack. "His arms look dirty with all of that."  She is referring to his tattoos. Several people turn around and I am sure he has heard her and now we are both going to die.

I roll my eyes. "Mom!  Be quiet," I hiss. "Everyone can hear you!"
"Oh, stop it. They can't hear me," she replies and waves me off like a buzzing fly. Secretly I wonder if she has hurt the big man's feelings, and I slink out of the store, head down, to go wait by the car.

There were so many other Momisms:

Passing a man in a department store:  "Somebody needs a bath!"

Walking behind a large woman in Walmart who is sporting Spandex:  For God's sake, doesn't she own a mirror?"

Our all time fave which still makes me cringe emerged when she was about ninety. Mom was watching television with my husband and our adult children. I remained nearby, keeping an eye on the situation, always afraid she would forget herself, stand and fall. A rather explicit sex scene appeared on the television screen. She was quiet for a while and the kids, entirely paralyzed with fear, not knowing what was coming next, dared not flinch a muscle. Then, the Momism that will live forever came out of her sweet, wrinkled lips.  "For Christ's sake. He's going to smother down there."

Standing in the kitchen and watching from a distance I could not utter a word. My jaw dropped open. The kids started snickering while my husband laughed so hard I was worried he wouldn't catch his breath. I just couldn't handle it so I left the room under the guise that I had to wrap Christmas presents, but not before stopping by the bar for a glass of medicinal bourbon. Prior to this Momism I wasn't sure she even knew what this man was doing. But somehow Moms always know more than we think they do.

It is the holiday season again and Mom has been gone for nearly four years. It is particularly hard during this Christmas. My brother died this spring leaving my immediate family deceased. I miss her Cowboy Language, a term they coined in the group home where she lived the last six months of her life. I move forward as the matriarch of another generation, fully aware that my own Momsim are revealing themselves. Despite the humiliation I experienced as a teenager, it seems to be a genetic predisposition determined by the X chromosome.

I am shopping with my daughter for her wedding dress and observe a caucus of young women in sloppy shorts and T-shirts preparing to try on gowns. "What is wrong with people," I tell her. "That girl looks like she hasn't washed her hair in a week."  While pointing at the group I note I have also grown my mother's index finger.

"You sound like Nana," my daughter replies.
"Yeah, I do," I respond and smile.
And she rolls her eyes.

Holiday blessings to all the Moms in the world and their children that tolerate and love them.

Nana in her better days, with the Bride-To-Be