“Tell Larry my partner and I won the net in the first flight,” my mom said, referring to the golf tournament she had played in last week. “We won the net in the first flight.” She said it twice because she knew I had no idea what that meant. But Larry would if I said it correctly.
And he did. He was impressed! “How old is your mom again?” He asked.
She’s 77. My mother is 77, and she wins the net in the first flight at golf tournaments, which I sort of understand, but probably not well enough to explain it (smile). She also cooks amazing meals, works out, plays golf twice a week, creates Bible studies, and takes care of my father and her sister. She also wears a size 6, which I manage not to resent because she’s so wonderful. As I drove the rest of the way to work that day, I just shook my head. My mother really is Wonder Woman.
I’m blessed to have been adopted by two wonderful, loving parents. My mom, however, has been and is the kind of woman that other women admire. From the time I was small, I was a bit in awe of her. And teenage and early adulthood angst aside, she’s always kind of been a hero.
My Beautiful Mother
For one thing, she’s beautiful. She really is. Dark, almost black hair, beautiful bone structure courtesy of her Creek Indian roots, large brown eyes, olive complexion. And a very pretty nose. I used to look at a picture of her in her early twenties and wish I looked like her. being adopted, I was blond, exceedingly tall, skinny, with a….generous nose. Sigh…you get what you get in the great genetic wheel of fortune. She is still beautiful and, to me, looks frozen in time.
I remember so many things about my mother during my childhood. I remember sitting beside her at the piano while she taught me where middle C was and how to read notes on the staff. I would listen to her play hymns and art songs, her fingers flowing back and forth over the keys. I remember when she helped with our children’s classes at church, creating fun activities for us to do. I have pictures from a Halloween party I had in 6th grade. We had pieces of burlap and felt, googly eyes, shaped, etc. that we used to decorate them with ghosts, pumpkins, and candy. Mom sat at her sewing machine, putting the pieces together to sew trick or treat bags. Then, later that school year, when 3 girls were bullying me and saying hurtful things about me, and I came home crushed, my no-nonsense mom gave me some excellent advice:
“Consider the source.” At the time I didn’t quite understand exactly how wise that perspective was. As an adult, that statement served me well during times that threatened to crush me.
Professionally, my mother began as an English and history teacher. When I was in elementary school, she became a guidance counselor. One of her duties was to sponsor the girls’ social and service club. I remember going along with her to activities and being doted on by the high school girls. I felt so important! I didn’t realize until later how many lives she impacted, including kids who ended up being the first in their families to go to college or young women who had crises and needed guidance.
While I finished high school, my mother finished her PhD. I remember that she defended her dissertation while I was across the country rehearsing for a summer tour with a singing group. I called her that night, and she confirmed that I could finally call her Dr. Livingston. A few months later she became the first female superintendent of schools in our state. We were all very proud of her.
She accomplished many things. But for her, even with all the outside responsibilities, marriage and family were the priority. She was a strong woman successful, independent. Yet I remember so often her bringing my dad a sandwich while he watched football or sweet tea as he worked in the yard. She loved him well and still does. Keeping a warm and welcoming home was important to her. She was classically feminine, and I remember the terms “ladylike” or “not ladylike” being applied to my behavior. I used to joke that I would have “You need lipstick” carved into her tombstone, it was a phrase she uttered so regularly. She celebrated her traditional womanhood; it didn’t scare her or threaten her because she knew who she was.
To this day, there are things I know about my mother. I know she prays for me every day. I know she will love me no matter what, and even when I tested that it proved unwaveringly true. I know she will rise before the dawn, make coffee, and read her Bible. She will make sure my father has a good breakfast, lunch, and dinner. My morning commute will include a conversation with her – sometimes a long one, sometimes just a hello. And if I am in need of wisdom, she is an excellent source.
I don’t know how long I’ll have my mother in my life. She is in good health, but she is 77. None of our days are guaranteed. I do know, however, that I have been blessed to be raised by a true wonder woman. And for that I will always be grateful.