Remembering Mom

She came from nowhere
And grew up with nothing
She was the perfect combination
Of her mother and grandmother
A tough broad from the same
Yet softer, tempered
By the influence of a generation
Once removed

She worked hard
For everything she earned
But she never forgot
Where she came from
Including the lessons
Of how to make due
So she always wanted people to know
How thrifty she was

Her love of bargain hunting
Was comical
She’d come home
With something
No one was ever
And I mean ever
Going to need
And be so proud of herself
Because it was such a bargain

If you complimented her
On a new item of clothing
She would tell you
Where she got it
And at what price
Looking for validation
That used to drive me nuts
Until I got older
And understood
Both her motivation
And need

I told her once
That I knew
What a great shopper she was
But when someone pays her
A compliment
All she needed to say
Was thank you
And I watched her
Absorb that
That we already knew
She was good at something
And her demeanor changed
I know she didn’t always remember
And she slipped back
Into old habits
But I also saw her live it
And simply say thank you
And I saw the gleam
Of pride in her eyes

Truth is
She was good at lots of things
Too many to count
She created amazing things
Elaborate costumes
With painstaking details
That were elegant
And sublime
Yet she saw them
As being frugal
And still needed
That reaffirmation
Of her worth

Her faults were many
Yet somehow
They no longer define her
I will remember
That she was judgmental
And bitchy
Bossy and a huge pain in the ass
But that doesn’t matter now

Because she was also
The one we all turned to
When the chips were down

She tried to control us
Her entire world
Because that’s how she survived
And even thrived
In a world where she was once
The underdog
And never realized
That she had made it

But that need to control
Was what made her a rock
When life got stormy

She was our primary care provider
And our patient care advocate
When an emergency struck
She had whatever it was
That we needed
A car
A house
Information
Advice
Clothing, dishes, blankets
Cash
Or just love

She was practical
And though she could be
Easily distracted
She was also amazingly organized
When disaster struck

When the rest of us
Went numb
Or fell apart
She was the one
Who pulled us together
Who had the facts
And told us things would get better
That it would be okay
If we stayed calm
And stuck together
And believed

And we did
And she was always right

So Mom,
I’m still gonna remember
What a massive pain in the ass
You could be
And I’m still referring to you
As Ger-bear
Though I guess
It’s no longer behind your back

But I’m also gonna remember
How you helped
Put me back together
When I fell apart
How you held us all together
In the face
Of agonizing uncertainty
I’ll remember your hugs
When I needed them most
And I’ll always
Be able to hear you
Telling me
That everything will be okay

In loving memory of Gerry Lynn Peery Baiman; June 1, 1943–March 11, 2014.

3 thoughts on “Remembering Mom

  1. Hi, Sue: Your dad called me last night to let me know about your mom. I think I’m still in shock! (We were neighbors since Jim & I moved into the house just below them on the right-of-way road in June 1994, and became very good friends. I lost Jim very suddenly in a manner very similar to your mom — massive stroke — April 20, 2013.) I visited with them last July when they were staying at the camp ground off Eisenhower for a few days; so glad we got to do that! Words can’t begin to express how very sorry I am. I will keep you all in my thoughts & prayers. Again, my sincere sympathy. God bless! Kay

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