Saturday, April 11, 2009

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Prologue and Chapter 1


My mother taught me one hundred things a million times. Ironically, from my earliest childhood memories of my mother and until she was in her seventy's, I don't believe I heard her say more than ten words a day (and that's another story). So how could she possibly have taught me one hundred things a million times, and those one hundred things become so indelibly cemented into my memory? Perhaps the more important question is why.

Some of the one hundred things are universal; things that every parent teaches their child, but I think that some are backlash to unlearned lessons, bad experiences, or realizations. Don't we do the same thing, share life lessons that have been branded into our memories, good and bad?

What follows is a closer look at those one hundred things my mother taught me a million times, examined through the lens of my memories of my mother, my life experiences and my hopes for my children and grandchildren.

Over the last ten or so years many books have been birthed from blogs. One of my fondest and most recent references being Julie Powell's book, Julie and Julia, soon to be a movie, ( Hopefully, One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times will get noticed, too.

Lesson # 1 - You can fall in love with a rich man as easily as you can fall in love with a poor man.
There's so much to say about this lesson, I hardly know where to start. My mother didn't marry a rich man, she married my dad, twice, which I didn't even know until he was dead and she was 80 years old! Being the last of five kids, and an "accident" when my mom was 40 and my dad 60, I must have missed out on a lot of drama. Did she try to teach me this lesson a million times because she wished she'd married a rich man, or did she just want me to have security, or is there another reason? CLICK ON READ MORE BELOW…

We don't ever really know our parents do we? I didn't, but perhaps that was because they were quiet people, or was I just too busy being a child to notice? I believe that growing up in a very small country town (less than 2,000 people) during a rather euphoric time in history came into play. World War II was ending and my dad had built a road construction business in West Texas (oil country) during a war that was ravenous for oil, so my family probably had financial security for the first time. Mine was one of those villages that raised the children. I would leave the house early and not return until I got hungry. My dad was busy, my mom knew I was OK - at the county pool swimming, roller-skating at the school, playing "house" in the draw, or over at my best friend Katie's. I started first grade and graduated twelfth grade with virtually the same 27 kids.

I have heard a few family stories about my dad owning a gold mine in New Mexico and race horses in Tennessee, which if I didn't have the pictures of rag-tag houses, cars and clothes to confirm the losing nature of those endeavors, might imply wealth. But I don't remember money ever being a topic in our family history, even to this day. I have never heard one of my four older siblings say anything to indicate that they were poor or hungry; I just think that like the vast majority, they "got by." Regardless of the lessons my mother verbally taught, the lesson she taught by her life was the value of books and reading and education. That will always be, to me, the prevailing lesson of her life, and for that I am thankful.

As far as it being easy to fall in love with a rich man, I did it and didn't even know that I was doing it. When I was a child, there was this place on the Pecos River called Chandlers Guest Ranch where everyone went because they had big trees and a swimming pool. I guess it was the west Texas equivalent of a country club. The massive pecan trees, nourished by the beautiful, spring-fed river, served as a cool oasis in an otherwise hot and barren terrain. On the road to Chandlers we would pass by this ranch that had beautiful green fields, and a large ranch house wrapped around even larger oak trees. Every time we drove past that house, even as a small child, I would wonder who lived there and fantasize about how charmed their lives must be. Trees and anything green are highly valued in a country with scant water, and where people celebrate in the streets when it rains. Some years later, when I was 15 years old, I fell in love with a tall, blond cowboy, and before too long he took me home to meet his mother at the house around the big trees in the green fields. I didn't fall in love with my cowboy because he lived in that house. I didn't know he lived in that house until I was already head-over-heels in love.

It was that "Happily Ever After" love, to the marrow of my bones. He was my Prince Charming, and I was going to live a magical life. Ours was one of the largest and nicest homes in the county. I was a woman with a college education. We had cash flow. I hosted all of the best parties. Our kids looked like the Kennedy children. We were pillars of the community. The story of what eventually happened to that marriage and family is another book, and later on in my life I fell in love with several poor men.

So mother was right. You can fall in love with a rich man as easily as you can fall in love with a poor man.

I would really enjoy getting your feedback on this first chapter of One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times, and on some of the things your mother taught you a million times. Post a comment, subscribe to the Gals - Very Smart Gals Blog, forward this post to your friends. Share the love.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I was there for most of that and I'm sorry but I still miss you, our kids playing together, the neat parties and the wonderful friendship. It was one of the best parts of my life, so sorry the story didn't have the perfect ending for you!! Love from your forever friend, Linda Sue

  3. Me too dear friend. Me too.

    I don't think there are perfect endings. Just good attitudes and lord knows I've had plenty of opportunities to practice mine!