I Remember Momma

By Marian Brennan Pratt

This virus thing leaves me searching, nightly, on Xfinity and Netflix for something I can stand to watch. I see “I Remember Momma” flash on the screen and I know I’m good for the evening. The story is about a family that is held together by a strong, loving woman. She is also a gentle and patient soul. It’s at the top of the list of the “Feel Good” movies.

I have to say that I don’t remember much about my mother. She died in childbirth when I was 13 years old. She had just turned 40 … and I was still mad at her for leaving me. As time passed, I developed a kinder attitude – right around the time I became a mother myself. One ominous day momma threw me off the top of a load of hay and thought she had killed me. Nobody ever suffered more than she did that day. She had lost 6 other babies because of RH- blood and I’m sure the thought of her only daughter being lost by her own hand was devastating.

 We lived with gramma so she became an “other mother”. It was she who would actually dress up in a gown and even a hat for a tea party with me on the back porch. She and my mother were the best of friends as well as excellent cooks. I would hear them laughing in the kitchen and wonder what could be so funny about making apple pie.  When my dad would come in from milking the cows, the kitchen was warm and cozy on winter days. It smelled so good and we would have a wonderful meal together. I had my nose stuck in a book most of the time so I never learned to cook. On a particularly unhappy day with my kids, I remember telling them that they were being raised by a 13-year-old. I came to believe that I was unaware of some things that other women knew and I was just learning. I had stopped maturing at 13. My dad did his best but he wasn’t momma.

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On a typical day for the family we all watched Lawrence Welk on TV, said the family rosary and went to bed. About the family rosary:  We knelt, of course, and dad and I leaned on the couch. One night he shoved the comics over and pointed to a picture of “Major Hoople.” The Major was an extraordinarily big man and he had hit a patch of ice and flipped upside down. The look on his face sent us into the worst kind of giggles … the kind you get in church … that you can’t fight … until we turned around and there sat gramma and momma, off their knees, in their chairs, with their arms folded, just waiting. Oh Boy!

Turns out I do remember one thing about momma. She was the Regent of the Daughters of Isabella, an International Catholic woman’s group. She had a deep connection to Mary the Mother of Jesus and while she was regent, the D of I raised funds for a shrine to Mary at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. She loved the piano so she had me take lessons. I started to play the big pipe organ for mass when I was 12 years old. She was proud of that, I think. My momma was a gentle and patient soul just like the woman in the movie so my thoughts of her are always good these days.

 My dad spent 40 years without her and he used to say that he was going to see her again, some day and he wanted to be ready.

I wanted to write about mothers but I was all over the place with grammas and fathers and this story and that story. So my conclusion is that you can’t write about mothers without including the family because, in the long run, it’s in our own families where “We Remember Momma.”

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