I was jabbering away to my parrots whilst cleaning their cages Saturday when my sainted mom made an early Mother's Day appearance.
"You've made quite a mess here. We'd better get you some clean sheets," I chirped to my African grey, spreading clean pages of the Mail Tribune on the floor of her cage.
Gaia responded with a chuckle and a request to exit her room.
"Hey there, Bug Butt. Wanna come out?" she asked, in hopeful tones.
Carrying the dustpan to the garbage can, I flipped up the lid with my toe, dumping the assorted seeds, pellets and orange peels into the abyss.
"Ya wanna come out, huh?" I replied with a chuckle of my own.
"OK, Bebe. As soon as we finish our chores, you can come out."
And just like that, I sounded just like my mother.
The realization stopped me dead in my tracks. So I said the sentence again. Yep. Spot on. Mom.
It wasn't the task-oriented message that had my head tilting. Yes. The sentiment of homework before play was very Mom-ish — and in a good way.
But it was the actual tone and timbre of my voice bringing a glow to my surprised heart. In that moment, my voice sounded exactly like Mom's. Exactly.
Amazing. When did this happen?
That a child would physically resemble her dear mama should offer little surprise. But I confess to some startled realizations as time rolls on. My hands are starting to look more and more like Mom's. Perhaps, at some point, my knuckles may become so gnarly, my fingers so bent, that I'll be able to point around corners just like Mom.
I also find it interesting that four women's handwriting would bear striking similarities throughout the ages. Me, Sis, Mom and Grandma could have forged each other's checks at various ages. Two of us are southpaws. Two of them have blue eyes. And the handedness did not coincide with the eyeballs. Go figure.
The older I get, the more I recognize my mother's wisdom. And also appreciate the way she imparted her beliefs. Mom led by quiet example. She was not the sort to drone on and on about how things ought to be. Or to belittle those who didn't share her opinions.
Mom had little love for political rhetoric. And even less for idle gossip. The fact that I once openly coveted an embroidered pillow that read, "If you can't say something nice about someone, come sit next to me," did not fill her with maternal pride.
In fact, such a statement may have garnered an eye roll and a slight head shake. Perhaps even one of her patented, "Sandra Lynne!" admonitions.
But Mom never harped on my misdeeds. I was my mother's daughter enough to know when I'd stepped in it — and what it was.
"Guilt worked great with you," Mom said, explaining why she eschewed physical discipline.
She made no apologies for working my conscience. Stretch it. Pull it. Grow it. Whatever worked to keep her last little chick safe — and rolling along life's high roads.
I have long known that basically anything worth squat about my being was either imparted via Mom's DNA or her nurturing nature.
Big brown peepers? Mom. Love of reading — and all that an adoration of words has brought to my life? Mom. Relentless sense of optimism even after working as a journalist for the past dozen years? Mom, again.
Some might label that last trait as denial. But Mom lived to be 93. And she urged me to believe in that age-old, hard-times adage: "This too shall pass."
Sure, I might curl my lip and quip, "... like a freakin' kidney stone!" But my mercurial father bears some responsibility for my makeup. (Love ya, Dad. But this is a Mother's Day column.)
Which brings me back to yesterday morning. The vagaries of nature versus nurture. And Mom's voice suddenly coming out of my yap.
Some may say it's about shared DNA and my aging voicebox. Others may say it's about mimicry. I am now parroting Mom's tones, as well as her messages.
I just like to believe Mom's with me — one way or another. Always and forever.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.