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Where We Live: That lady in the mirror

Published May 03. 2019 02:40PM

By Marta Gouger

Sometimes I look in the mirror and see my mother staring back at me. I look a lot like my mom, and like her, I don’t clean a lot.

But I can’t in any way duplicate her talents or humor.

For starters, she had no craziness filter when I was a child. And I was gullible.

She would say ridiculous things like, “Don’t wear your coat in the house. You will get worms.”

Huh? What kind? Earthworms? Tape worms? Why would she say that?

I was 6. I was scared.

“Don’t make that face. It will stay like that.”

I think it did.

“Stop making faces at your brother. One day you’ll like him.”

She was right. My brother, the first to destroy my shot at being an only child, is now one of my favorite people.

The worst was when I moved to Palmerton Area School District just before fifth grade. I was facing a bigger school where we changed classes. I was the new kid and very shy. I felt picked on.

She said, “Be glad. If they are talking about you, they’re not talking about other people.”

Really? I recently shared this with my fourth- and fifth-grade girls at church, and they couldn’t figure it out either. I think she was saying, “Chin up. Put on your big girl panties and don’t let them bother you.”

But I didn’t care. I just needed friends.

We didn’t have much money to spare. “Those people who are spending a lot aren’t paying their taxes,” she said.

I don’t think that was true, but she did try to make everything special. My mother was amazing when it came to crafts. It was the late ’60s and she sewed leather skirts for me. Other people wanted them, but they couldn’t have one.

She did however, make a tie-dyed T-shirt for anyone who wanted one. And she did allow me to have a birthday sleepover for a bunch of giggly girls who wouldn’t go to sleep. She decided to play “Carmen” to force us to go to sleep because we couldn’t stand the music. She talked for years about finding paper plates with cake shoved between the pages of our set of encyclopedias. If you don’t know, encyclopedias are a hard copy of the internet. They were volumes of information that was dated, but it was all we had.

When she wasn’t scaring me, we had a great time. She was the one who taught me how to do crafts. Truth be told, she could do anything and was constantly involved in some project. She taught Vacation Bible School and helped the students make drums from coffee cans. The room became insanely loud, and she did question her craft choice. In the end, she stood at the door when each kid left to make sure they were in fact taking the drums home.

Most important, she instilled in me the magic of reading. Now and then we’d pile in the old blue station wagon and go to Krex’s on the corner in Palmerton. She would allow me to pick some penny candy and a book. My aunt Judy went along with us and we’d all find books to read. She introduced me to Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes.

If we couldn’t buy books we’d go to the library.

For me, it never stopped. I still read every moment I can. I read while I am taking a break and walking at work. I keep my Kindle loaded with library books and read while I am in line at the transfer station.

And I love to work with crafts. I don’t have as much time to sew as I once did, but I still work with the kids at VBS. When they are splattering paint all over the place, I think of my mom and know she would appreciate the mess.

She loved to play, and loved to laugh. She had one of the first Atari versions ever made and never hesitated to take a few minutes out of her day to play. Me, I tried the skiing game and just hit trees.

If she’d be alive today, she would be Googling everything and she would have the latest version of Xbox or PlayStation. She would have more books than me on her Kindle.

And she would enjoy every minute of it.

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