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Mom was always up to something

We called it goop — the stuff that accumulates on the bottom of the bar after the soap sits too long. There wasn’t that much since we bathed every day, but it seemed like a lot.

My mother made a special bag from an old brown towel, with a shoestring closure to put soap slivers in to further enhance the creation of the magical stuff. Goop. We then used the bag to schlepp it onto the washrag, which made it possible to use the rest of the bar down to its nonexistence. Then when it became too slimy, and she washed it, she didn’t have to add detergent, did she? How creative we were.

I say we, and I really mean she. My mom. What a gorgeous, gifted goddess she was. Did I mention that my mother was very pretty? Well, she still is to me. A beauty that was enhanced by her loving participation in our lives with an enduring attention to giving a dollar stretch marks where it never expected. She was and still is a genius.

I always thought we were poor, but it wasn’t until high school that I realized that most of our dads all had the same job. It was the little things that gave me that impression. Like my mom made bread. We never got that fluffy white stuff that comes in plastic bags. How she ran a household without them is anybody’s guess.

She made our clothes. She was a sewing machine wizard. We memorized the pages in the Sears catalog with the dresses we wanted. But that didn’t matter. She was a woman with a mission. And as I remember, she was always up to something.

One day I came home from school, and she had the entryways to the kitchen blocked up with towels and the kitchen floor filled with water. She was trying to soften the glue holding the old cracked linoleum so that she could remove it and expose the oak wooden flooring underneath. I was all for making sailboats, but she nixed that idea. So we had wood floors before they were popular. (Or after, however you look at it.)

She also gave us the gift to learn to use our own imagination, by not allowing us to get bored. We were never allowed to say we were bored. My mom always encouraged us to go outside and find something to do, which we did under threat of who knows what would happen if we didn’t. And we never stuck around to find out. It contributed to my energetic, mental dexterity that I so proudly share with you now.

I have so much to be thankful for. I was raised with comfort and love. I’m not sure that the time or location had anything to do with it, but I’m sure it helped. I never questioned much, just accepted it and took it for granted. My mother is now 90, and my dad is 95, and she takes care of his failing frame.

Man, does she have her hands full. They still live in the house in Dunsmuir, California, that they bought when I was 6. They will celebrate their 71st anniversary this month.

I am not sure that I have ever shown my mother as much love as she has shown me, but I am sure of one thing. There will be a special place in heaven for her, right next to Albert Einstein, who said, “Creative spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.”

I’m so happy that she always had a mind of her own and taught us that we were worthy of having one ourselves, too. Thank you mom. I love you.

Marilyn White lives in Medford.

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