Happy Mother’s Day

Best wishes to all the mother’s being celebrated today.

Happy Mother's Day in fancy script over abstract image of a pink flower.

Over the years I’ve been asked about the title of my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant & a Paycheck. How and why did I choose it? Does it mean something significant?

The answer to the second question is a resounding “Yes!” And this excerpt from the book explains it perfectly.

Cover image: A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck by Maryann Miller. Tin can decorated with old fashioned bicycle and red rick-rack. Plant with shriveled leaves coming out of the can.

Close on the heels of Easter comes Mother’s Day, and I’ve not met many mothers who didn’t really enjoy the special day. It’s the day that the whole family, including the dog, turns out to make us feel like Queen for a Day.

Some women expect, and receive, lavish gifts, and at times the idea of a diamond necklace has intrigued me. But like I wrote at the beginning of this book, there is something much more endearing about the dead tomato plant. And there is no place I would rather be than with my family.

That is hard now since we live far enough away from the kids that they can’t gather at my house for the day, so I have to be satisfied with cards and phone calls. And they are all good about doing both.

In between calls, I fondly recall the Mother’s Days when we were all jumbled together in the same house.

My day would start out with breakfast in bed, and I didn’t care that the orange juice was hot, the toast was cold and the eggs were barely palatable. By the time the whole crew bounced on the bed a few times, it would all be dumped in the middle of the blanket anyway.

Then I would be led out of the bedroom into the kitchen where I was greeted with a lopsided layer cake and the beaming faces of my children, who expected me to think that it was the most beautiful creation I’d ever seen.

For some strange reason, it was.

After cake, it was time for presents. That was the year I got the dead tomato plant. Michael, who was eight at the time, proudly presented the coffee can covered with a construction paper heart that said “I love you, Mom.” Inside the coffee can was a bunch of dirt and the wilted plant.

“I hid it in my closet so you wouldn’t see it,” he said. “And the plant died. I didn’t mean it to.”

At that point I wondered if I was coming down with a cold. My eyes started to water and my throat felt funny.

Next came eleven-year-old, David, who proudly walked in carrying a great big box wrapped in last Sunday’s funny papers. “This is something you’ve wanted for a long time,” he said with a big grin. “And I picked it out all by myself.”

Inside the box was a beautiful pitcher with a matching set of glasses, which meant we no longer had to drink our iced tea out of Mason jars. (Even though that has always been kind of faddish in Texas, I always wanted to use my jars to do some canning.)

Then my husband told the twins it was time to get their presents. There was a bit of a scuffle in the other room as he tried to explain to them why they had to give the presents to me, but they finally worked it all out. Those two little monsters who had wiped out my entire bed of chrysanthemums with a hot wheel track and an old stick the week before, staggered in under the weight of two huge potted plants. They dropped them at my feet with the promise, “We won’t hurt these plants, Mommy.”

At that point, not only did I think I was coming down with a cold; I started developing a growth in my throat.

Finally, our twelve-year-old daughter, Anjanette, came forward with a small package in her hand topped with the most interesting bow made out of an old scrap of lace. I opened the box and saw a necklace, which obviously didn’t come from a Crackerjack box, nestled in a bed of cotton. “I know you really like owls, Mom,” she said. “So, I saved my babysitting money for a month to get this for you.”

Could that have possibly been the same daughter who bought me a pair of panty hose and herself a new blouse on Mother’s Day the year before?

That did it. The cold took a decided turn for the worse, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to pass it off as a cold for much longer. As I sat there blowing my nose and wiping my eyes, I realized that for that one day they would kill me with kindness, but the next day they’d forget all about the holiday and being nice to me.

But not me. I knew I would remember for a long, long time.

And I have.

For all of you celebrating this day, I hope it is making memories as sweet as these.

“When ignorance screams, intelligence is silent. Your peace and quiet are worth more.”

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