Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Remembering Mother - 2007

(This is a repost of a post I wrote in 2007 in memory of my mother.)

Mother's Day always brings back many memories for me of my own mother. The ones that stand out the most in my mind at present and almost beg me to write about them involve her humorous ways.

(Mother and Daddy taken during the 1950's)

No doubt you are all familiar with our nation's various domestic wars. The War on Drugs. The War on Crime. Mother had her own personal domestic war going on. It consisted of many battles on many fronts.


The battlefield was any motel room, hotel room, or vacation home where our family was going to be staying. The enemy was OTHER PEOPLE'S GERMS. Our germs were okay. We knew them. They were family. But other people's germs, well, that was a different story.

I do not recall our family ever taking a vacation for which Mother was not prepared with her arsenal of weapons: pail; mop; scrub brush; ammonia; bleach; soap; and rubber gloves. My sister and I were not allowed to step foot inside these places until Mother had thoroughly disinfected them from top to bottom. Once she got done the place was so clean and germ free that you could have drank out of the toilet bowl.

Mother's determination to do battle with OPG carried over to public restrooms as well. If she could not disinfect, she labored to create this protective paper barrier between the toilet seat and my little tush or my sister's which ever was the case. It was my mother who taught me how to dress the toilet seat in a public restroom with layers of toilet paper and how then to approach said toilet seat without disturbing this protective barrier. Much to my mother's dismay, the approach was a feat I never quite mastered.


Mother was good about keeping things for that proverbial rainy day. She had a cedar chest in her bedroom which she kept locked. Once when I was a little girl I decided to unlock it and see what was inside. I was surprised to find a treasure trove of beautiful linens neatly wrapped in paper. These were wedding gifts which Mother and Daddy had received. I asked Mother why we didn't use these things. Her reply was, "Oh, those are for a rainy day."

Well, that rainy day never arrived in our household while I was living there. It was one long drought instead. I remember well how our bath towels were so worn at times you could practically see through them while thick thirsty ones sat in Mother's cedar chest. Did that rainy day ever come for her? Did she ever get around to using all those beautiful towels and pillow cases that filled her cedar chest? If she did, then she waited till after I got married and had left the nest.


After Grandpa passed away and it was time for Grandma to sell the big house and move into something much smaller, my parents helped her prepare for the move. I will never forget the big deal Mother made over Grandma's gigantic collection of clothes hangers. It was excessive for sure. It looked as if Grandma had kept every clothes hanger that had ever made it into her life. But maybe Grandma thought clothes hangers would go up in value as time went by. Who knows. Who knows what in human beings causes them to keep things that come into the house on a regular basis when these things have no real value or have limited usefulness. I suppose we all possess this pack rat mentality to some extent.

Mother's thing was cottage cheese containers. My father loved cottage cheese. He ate it every day. It had its own place at the kitchen table right there along with the butter and the salt and pepper. Eventually cottage cheese came in plastic containers with nice snap on lids which made these containers perfect for storing leftovers and other food items. So, people started saving them. People, including my mother. The years went by and Daddy kept eating cottage cheese that came in plastic containers with nice snap on lids...and Mother saved these containers diligently. My guess is that she saved every one of them. Eventually she had a collection of cottage cheese containers that rivaled Grandma's collection of clothes hangers. She had cornered the market. Personally, I do paper bags and shoe boxes.

(Mother, a fine lady - age 69)

Mother passed away in January, 2001 twelve weeks to the day after the love of her life, my father, passed away. The following spring after their deaths, a particular pair of butterflies kept flitting around our yard and coming up onto our deck and landing on the railing which surrounds it. Butterflies are a sign from loved ones who have passed on...they say.


Mother had a reputation for being a lady. She took great pride in being a lady. It is with deep love that I wish this fine and fair lady a Happy Mother's Day.


  1. SusieQ, your mother looks adorable.

    I don't like Other People's Germs. I learned that from my mother.

    What a wonderful story...!


  2. Thanks Josie. Mother was a beautiful woman who took a lot pride in her appearance.

    She suffered a stroke about 10 years before she died. She ended up in a nursing home. A few years later Daddy had to have major surgery done. So, my sister and I dressed Mother up in a nice new velour pant outfit, complete with jewelry and a lovely neck scarf, and brought her to the hospital to see Daddy. Well, she looked like a doll when we wheeled her into his room. He was thrilled to see her.

  3. What a great tribute!
    I should have done some thing like that myself-Bad Wreckless!
    I had an elderly aunt and she saved "pot pie" tins. I think going through the depression, bank collapses, and wars did this to her. When we moved her we discovered stacks and stacks of these in the basement. When someone went to move them guess what fell out? Money! She had tens, twenties, ones, all stashed and hidden everywhere. We started going through everything meticulously from then.
    I have packratitus too. I do believe you either have it or you don't.

  4. Very nice story Susie,I always enjoy your stories about your family and especially your Mother. I still love those black and white pictures you put up last year. One of these days I'll have to do a special tribute to my Mother over at my blog. I went over to my other Mom's place yesterday and we had a very nice day.

  5. You are absolutley right. I can still remember mother cleaning every toilet at all of our vacation spots before anyone could use them. No matter how bad we had to go. I save cool whip containers. You are also right about the butterflies. Remind me to tell you what happened at Maddy's memorial service.And she was certainly a lovely lady.

  6. What a great post. You know that war of germs? My wife is carrying on the fight. She is especially fussy in motel rooms. I don't even like to think about whether she's right or not... because she probably is. =(
    Great pictures!

  7. Hi Susie,
    I loved this post! Having cleaned out the homes of several relatives after they passed, I would say your collections are quite common. My mother saved the receipt for every bill she paid for fifty years! My grandma saved the rubberband off every newspaper she read for all the years she lived in that house. Most just crumbled when touched!
    My husbands parents saved empty glass jars of every description, as well as coolwhip, margarine and cottage cheese containers.
    Such is life...

  8. What a nice story. I enjoyed reading it.
    I am glad to know that I are not the only one to save all those various plastic cartons when they are empty. I also have a good start on a collection of those
    tin pie plates. As for hangers, well I'm afraid I have too many of those too.
    Now I'm going to be conscious of all my collecting, and maybe I'll start "giving" these still good and useful items a new home.

  9. WRECKLESS: Oh, yes, I forgot about those chicken pot pie tins. I saved them, too, for a long time. My grandmother went through the depression and she had money stashed here and there in her house. I think she may have forgotten where some of that money was hidden sort of like a squirrel that can't remember where he buried all those acorns.

    JG: Thanks. I knew you would be spending some time with your "other" mom on Mother's day. You have written to me about your real mom, but I think it would be nice if you did a tribute to her at your blog with pictures and so on. I'll be looking for it.

    Anonymous (my sister Donna): I am so glad you stopped by to back up what I had to say about Mother's war on OPG. I suspected you collect Cool Whip containers. Hey, I have a cake recipe for you that calls for Cool Whip among other things. I found it at Rosie's blog
    It is one of her recipes from her "Porn Food Friday" collection. It is called "Wet" Coconut Cake. I can't wait to try it myself.

    Donna, I want to hear all about the butterflies at Maddy's memorial service.

    Tom (Patterns in Ink): Thanks. Your wife is right about the germs. If we only knew what germs await us on such surfaces as the seats in planes, we'd stay home. If you are flying, bring something you can use to cover your seat on the plane.

    Susie: Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words. I am afraid you are right about the habit we all seem to have to collect things like rubber bands. If you watch much TV, you will be familiar with the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. In one episode, Raymond's dad accuses Marie, the mom, of being excessive. Marie supposedly had a box in a storage closet labeled "Strings - too short to use."

    Sharon: I figured you saved everything, because you are the "Queen of frugal." Like I said in my post, I do paper grocery bags and shoe boxes. Good idea to start giving these still useful items away. Anyone here need any empty shoe boxes?

    Did I miss anyone?

  10. What a great post, SusieQ! Your Mom sounds lovely. I imagine she lived through the Great Depression. My grandmother had a thing about saving stuff like that. Not that my entire family weren't dreadful packrats, but the cottage cheese container thing really resounds with me. My grandmother had a thing for used tin foil and rubber bands.

  11. Great portrait. My mom had the war on germs going too.

  12. What a great tribute to your mom... she is smiling down from above as you lovingly write about her! Isn't it amazing how some traits are universal, but I must admit that I had never heard it called OPG. INTERESTING indeed!

  13. ROSIE: Thanks! I seem to recall seeing a lot of neatly folded tin foil in one of my grandmother's kitchen drawers. These people were true conservationists.

    I'll let you know how my "Wet" coconut cake turns out.

    PAUL: I believe the consensus is that mothers go after germs by nature. It is in their genes.

    NANCY: No doubt Mother is getting a charge out of all of this from somewhere up above. Both she and my dad liked to laugh and could readily see the humor in life.

  14. Hello...I'm visiting I think for the first time.
    I just loved this story about your mother...the pictures and the stories are so wonderful.
    (And I love your profile picture of you at 19- so pretty!)
    My mom still has margarine containers from 2o years ago, I think...;)

    To introduce myself- I'm an older mommy of two little girls, 5 and 7, and love all things nostalgic- especially true stories about the people that have gone before us.
    Wonderful post! :)

  15. Tammy, welcome. Sorry I haven't responded to your nice comment until now. I was swept away the past few days doing birthdays and baking cakes.

    I will visit your blog shortly. I am certain I am in for a treat.