April 21st was the fourth anniversary of my mother passing away. I have a Facebook page, and on it I posted the following comment, “Miss ya Ma! Four years. And yes, I still don’t own any wooden spoons.”
To understand the significance of the comment, you have to understand my mother. She was a woman who lived life on her own terms, and in her own way. She was, to say the least, complicated. I don’t think anyone truly understood her except for my father. Unfortunately they divorced before I was two, and he died shortly thereafter. So as a single mom in the early ‘60’s she was forced to take on the roles of both mother and father.
I will readily admit I was a shit as a kid. I was one of the original “latch key kids” coming home after school to an empty apartment. If my mother had known one-tenth of the stuff I did from the time I was eight until I moved out to go to college, she would have either died right then and there, or killed me.
When I was six or seven, and did something to infuriate her (truthfully, when I did get a bit older I would deliberately do things to infuriate her), she, being one to believe in corporal punishment, would tan my backside with her hand. After a few “tanning sessions” I realized that if I tightened my rear as hard as I could the “tanning” didn’t hurt as much. Back then getting spanked wasn’t as much fun as it is today. There was one particular swatting that changed the course of how she would reward my behavior. I had done something while she was at work, and when she got home and found out what I had done (honestly, I don’t even remember what I did) she took hold of me, and lifted me off my feet with her hand. I tightened up my rear, back then it wasn’t the soft pillows it has become with middle-age, and after a few whacks she let out a yell, and let go of me. Somehow she had broken blood vessels in her wrist, and had a blood filled lump at the area of her metacarpals. Ice and a week of being spank free, her wrist returned to normal, but she decided to find a new way of discipline.
Since my rear had hurt her, she found something that would hurt my rear. And thus began a long relationship with wooden spoons, and the occasional hairbrush with a handle. I can’t even count the number of wooden spoons she sacrificed in the name of discipline. I do recall vividly her delivering swats with one, having it break, and ending with a different spoon. My rear was probably the cause of massive deforestation due to the number of spoons mom had to replace.
When I finally left the proverbial nest, I swore that I would never own or have in my house wooden spoons or hair brushes with handles. The scarring of childhood can run so deep. The only people who knew of this aversion to “the spoon” were a couple of ex-wives or girlfriends, and my children.
When I posted the comment on Facebook, it was more or less an homage to mom and the memory of days long past. Several days after I posted the comment I received in the mail a package from her sister, my aunt. In it was a note, some cash (thank you Auntie) and a wooden spoon! As I sat at my desk looking that the spoon, I broke up laughing. It was as if all the years of negative memories just melted away, and brought back the fond memories of my mother. I sent a note to my aunt explaining about the spoons and my history, and telling her that it was actually cathartic for me to now hold the enemy in my hands.
I’m going to engrave mom’s name on the bowl of the spoon, seal it with polyurethane, and hang it on the wall in the kitchen. I still won’t buy any for myself, but I now will have a reminder of mom, and the good and not so good times that she and I shared for so many years.
Miss ya Ma! Four years. And yes, I do have a wooden spoon.