Hard to believe, huh? She barely looks a day past 22. But 38 years ago last month, she gave birth to Sarah Rupert Wilson (not pictured) and ever since has been wiping butts, making meals and teaching principles. She has been the epitome of motherly love, so below is a list of 38 memories of my mom. Let me preface the list with the following acknowledgement:
To understand Mamma Sweet, you have to know that she chose to live the "highest of all callings, that of a wife and a mother in Israel". Her decision to serve and teach constantly sustains her greatness - which is in direct contrast to those who forgo family to chase a career or some other selfish dream.
When I was in my PhD program, I met some women who chose the opposite. One professor was so concerned with how smart she looked, what status she had obtained, and how respected she was, that all I could think while attending class was "I would hate to be this woman's kid." Needless to say, I dropped out to avoid becoming a full prima donna.
How grateful I am that my mother did as Mary the sister of Martha and chose the better part! (Luke 10:42) Without further adieu, here's the list:
38 Mamma Sweet Memories
- Her jokes are seldom funny.
- Water skiing without getting her hair wet. She would slide off the back of the boat slowly, pull up on the first try, ski around the lake like a champion, throw the rope when she was done and glide to a gentle float - keeping her hair dry.
- Random genealogical introductions: "Eli! This is your very own cousin! ...Well, sort of. Remember Great Aunt ______ ?" Six generations back, and four or five "removeds" and she'd make the link.
- Longest fry competitions. When we lived in Seattle, Mamma Sweet would favor Leah over the rest of us by taking her to McDonalds before Beth and I would get out of elementary school. We'd take turns pulling half-exposed fries from the bunch, trying to grab the longest one.
- The fact that she denied having "favorite kids", in spite of us all knowing she did (usually Adam or Leah - never Mary).
- The fact that Mary was never her favorite. ;D
- Her trademark "Open Mouth Wink"... ;D
- Three testimonies per trip to St. George. That was the average. If you were headed there for an orthodontist appointment, you got at least four. Bearing testimony was mom's version of distracted driving.
- Being picked up by Luke and randomly "placed" in some room she didn't need to be in. She would silently fold her arms and just wait for him to be done moving her around. Ironically, he's the only one not lifting in the photo above.
- Pushing Luke around. He'd start laughing so hard, that he'd lose focus, and her center of gravity would win when they were on the tile in socks. If she started slipping, there was always the exclamation "Ahh! I need my Keds!"
- Little duffers... grandkids. Grandma Connie designs her life around little kids and helping them feel loved. Look at any window in her house - there will be little kid finger smudges on it. She purposely designed the front windows to be low enough so a duffer could watch as someone walked up.
- Mother's "Ladies". She keeps a gang of women her age involved in the strangest morning exercise activities. One year it was water aerobics with those empty milk jugs, another it was biking around town (like they were a boyhood gang from the Andy Griffith era).
- Waking up early and reading her scriptures by the lamp before the rest of us lazy turds got out of bed.
- Laughing at Moose's jokes. His were seldom funny too, but mom was always convinced they were great.
- Mom's eyes water when she laughs really hard. I still remember her slowly gasping and letting out a wail of a laugh when Moose hit the punch line of "Adam applied to be a circumciser once. They said they'd give him $2/hour... plus tips!". Noah tries to impersonate that laugh now... "do Grandma Connie's laugh!"
- Canning or drying fruit. The pioneer in all of us comes out during those times.
- Her silly little battery-powered weed trimmer. I swear it was made by Fischer Price. It was short enough for her to handle, so she loved it.
- Being 14" shorter than Moose. We all passed up Mother by the time we were seven.
- Christmas puzzles. There were five or six CDs that were held in reserve for puzzle music.
- Raisin cookies. None of us liked them except Mamma Sweet. She'd buy them to punish us for rash decisions: popping two of three of those puppies in your mouth only to realize they weren't chocolate chip was always a nasty surprise. To this day, Adam owns a shirt showing a couple raisin cookies: "RAISINS - They Ruin Everything".
- Panda Black Licorice. The rubbery, plasticky taste only a mother could love. Somehow, she got us all hooked on it like a drug.
- Listening to Beth's middle school and high school drama. I never realized what a champion mom was for listening to all that crap until Beth started blabbing to me about it. Ugh...
- Music. Mom LOVES music. In every house we lived in, I can remember a spot on a couch where I would spend hours just listening to mom play the piano. She'd nail every part, but pretend like she didn't. "Let me try this again. It needs to sound better than that to accompany the choir..." (As if ANY ward choir is good enough to require perfection from their accompanist.)
- Replacing random "h" sounds with "y" ones. It's a wonder we ever learned the alphabet properly... "H as in Yumor, Yuman, and Hourly. It's there, honey, you just have to listen for it. ;D"
- Warm laundry. This one was for me. Back when I was cute (2-5 years of age), mom would call for me as she pulled the warm laundry from the drier. I'd run to her bed, where she liked to fold it, and dive on just in time for her to dump the warm laundry all over me. It was the coolest feeling ever.
- Matching sweats for the entire family when we lived in Seattle. That single betrayal of style humbled our family for an entire decade. Mom's sole mistake.
- Swiss Chard. Way before the hipsters found out about "magical super-vegetables" like kale (ugh...), Mamma Sweet was on a kick about Swiss Chard. She was always reading some nutrition magazine and gleaning random tidbits. Swiss Chard was chief among all her nutritious learning, and to this day is held sacred among edible plants. Mamma Sweet believes it deserves it's own place in the food pyramid.
- Easter Egg Bash. That awkward holiday where you're surrounded by so many cousins, you feel like someone left you at the zoo. Loads of fun. This is when Mamma Sweet would blend in with her mom and sisters to the point where you could hardly tell one Ellis woman from another (they all wore Keds, sang primary songs randomly, and cooked). It was like the Borg's hive mind existed for one holiday each year... each aunt being assimilated as she walked into the stake center's kitchen with an arm full of homemade rolls...
- Seinfeld. Mamma Sweet used to watch it while she folded laundry. I'm pretty sure she's seen them all, and I believe the Soup Nazi episode was her favorite when I was in high school. In one house, we each had a laundry pile by the fireplace. Easter Morning, our piles were replaced with baskets. If Luke's wasn't bigger than everyone else's, he'd complain.
- Isabel's Lie. It was our one default Family Home Evening. Each kid had their time in the Primary blowing people's minds with how well we could present "Isabel's Lie" when called upon for a talk. Little did they know our other Home Evenings usually consisted of watching The Simpsons.
- "Hold onto your pantyhose!" None of us every understood why she loved that phrase. None of us ever will.
- Peace. Mamma Sweet has a clear sense of her divine worth. The result of that is a feeling of peace that you get when you're around her. It was the secret to all our confidence - especially to Moose's.
- Far from athletic. Though Luke and Leah are offended by this (and Adam if you include his "glorious diving days"), with the exception of tennis, none of us are really that athletic. We get that from mom. In spite of her fitness, Mother has never looked graceful throwing a ball of any form.
- Temple organist. There was a stretch in mother's life when she was called to play the organ for the waiting room in the St. George Temple. She always had a great love for the temple, and she has constantly lived her life worthy of her covenants. Hence the mention of peace two points above.
- Watching her dance. From frolicking around the house with us kids to trying to fit in with Rob at Leah's Latin wedding reception, Mamma Sweet has been promenaded around with an impressive smile.
- Speaking of smiles, hers resulted from the same ortho/testimony trips as the rest of ours. She went through the awkward braces years as an adult, right along with us kids.
- Her influence remains the sole reason why I'm considered a "catch" in spite of my weirdness and selfish attitude. After all, you marry a family.
The list could go on into the hundreds. I'm sure I'll think of a few really good ones I missed too. The point is, my mom is an angel. She loves the Lord, his Church, her family and really - everyone. Her influence is far greater than a corporate mandate, a seminal research paper, or a popular song. She continues to serve others through her heritage, which remains true to her upbringing as well. Her love emanates through her example to both sides of the veil, and it saturates two husbands, seven children, at least five children-in-law, dozens of grandkids, a small army of step-children, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins, and countless neighbors.
So here's to you, Mamma Sweet! May your cookies always taste good when I come to visit. Happy Mother's Day, mom. ;D