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On Today’s Menu:
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** Share some birthday galette for the strong, young saint of Domrémy, France.
** Linger to share some bits of wisdom I heard innumerable times growing up.
** Savor a last ½ cup hearing a bit more from the wisest woman I’ve known.
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Suits me, and I’m hard to please.
Slice of Cake:
Jeanne d’Arc was born on January 6th in the small village of Domrémy, France,
six hundred and eight years ago this week.
When I was a Catholic-baptized infant, I was given her name as my middle name—
And so Jeanne d’Arc became my patron saint.
January 6 also marks one year since I created the sky-t-tray website and started this blog.
It’s been an amazing sojourn—
and part of its amazing-ness is all the connections I’ve found:
Baltimore to Paris,
Grandma Debbie to Hedy Lamarr,
Martha Gellhorn to my dad,
Rumi’s translator to my mother-in-law Lois—
even Eminem to Babette Deutsch.
Here’s another connection:
My mother gave me my middle name for both St Joan of Arc and for her sister, my Aunt Jean. This summer I found out that Aunt Jean was also named after Joan of Arc.
Aunt Jean’s father (my grandfather) served in the U.S. Army in France during World War 1.
Coming from a horse farm in Northern Michigan, he was given the job of caring for the army horses in the small town Domrémy—the same village where Joan of Arc was born and raised.
My grandfather was fascinated by the many stories he heard there about Joan of Arc.
Years later, he talked to his daughter Jean about his time in France. And he told her that he had named her after Jeanne d’Arc, the saint from Domrémy.
He also talked about his work there—about horses injured by mustard gas and how sad he was to have to put some down. He didn’t often talk much about his war experience, so Jean was surprised to hear these stories.
I love thinking about this young man who admired the bravery of a strong young woman in France, then came home to Michigan, married his sweetheart, and became the father of seven strong and brave daughters.
Happy 608th birthday
** Jeanne d’Arc **
– born January 6, 1412
in Domrémy, France
I’ve been thinking this week about my mother.
Which is not unusual.
January 6 marks two years since my mother died and I am sure I have thought about her every day since.
This week I’ve especially been thinking about the many ways she coped with her many children.
One thing about children is that they ask questions.
A lot of questions.
And sometimes my mother listened to these rambling, disorganized questions and answered in a careful, thoughtful way.
“Mommy, what if there was a star in the sky that you looked at one night and on the next night you looked at it again and other nights you kept looking at that one same star, but then one night it fell so then the next night after that would you not see it in the sky anymore?”
This is an actual question that I remember laboriously trying to figure out how to ask—not thinking, of course, to simply say, “What’s a falling star? Is it an actual star?” And my mom really did understand what I trying to say and answered the question pretty thoroughly.
(Just in case you don’t know,
the answer is no, falling stars are meteorites and
not actual stars.)
there were other times when her children asked questions that my mother would answer with a Momism.
Here are some examples:
– What’s that, Mom?
– You tell me and we’ll both know.
– Mom, really. What is it?
– It’s a liddle-laddle from a winding mill.
– No, really, what is it, Mom?
– Something to make little girls ask questions.
– Where’d you get that, Mom?
– At the gittin’ place.
– When can I have it?
– Before you quit wanting it.
– Where you going, Mom?
– Crazy. Wanna come?
When there’d be a lull in a game…
Do something! Even if it’s wrong.
Or when we complained about something:
Stop worrying. You’ll forget all about it in the morning.
If it’s still bothering you by your birthday,
I’ll take you to the doctor.
When we offered our opinion—or our brother’s opinion:
There you go thinking again.
He says a lot of things besides his prayers—and he whistles them.
Remembering my mother’s momisms is always fun because they’re so characteristic of her. Once I became a mom, I started hearing them coming out of my own mouth, which made me laugh.
Lately I’ve been thinking about some possible practical reasons for my mom’s momisms.
I wonder if my mother used these ready-made responses as a short cut when she was busy, a substitute answer so she needn’t bother coming up with a more original one.
She had so little time or space to herself. I’m thinking that these go-to answers were her shield, a simple diversionary tactic against the on-coming hoard of children wanting her attention.
And so momisms acted as a feint. An auto reply to let her quickly get back to whatever she’d been doing. They were a delay, a thoughtless answer she could draw like a verbal privacy curtain around herself, to protect her own thoughts against the hundred-and-one interruptions of her question-fueled children.
That’s my theory, anyway.
(My siblings may have other ideas.)
My mom once told me that she’d
inherited a lot of these momisms from
her own mother.
Her mother had even more children,
and even less money.
And no modern conveniences.
No washing machine, no electric lights, no central heating.
No running water. No indoor toilet.
I wonder if sometimes my mom thought about
her own mother’s life and counted her blessings.
This is my chance to think about her life and count mine.
“Half Cup More”
Here are some more Momisms that we often heard her say:
Aaaaaah… Good coffee.
If you don’t stop fighting over it, I’ll put it up,
and then nobody gets to play with it!
STOP TEASING THAT BABY!!
Run away laughing.
Let’s go back to bed and call this day nothin’.
What are we going to do with them? Just love ‘em, I guess.
Your giggle box is turned upside down.
Don’t go away mad, just go away.
When things get back to normal…
We made our mistakes. Let them make theirs.
I’ll never let you go–I’ll never let you go–I’llneverletyougo–I’ll never let you go.
(This one was always accompanied by a big hug.)
Listen to all the advice you want, then do what you think best.
Have a nice nap and wake up happy.
Thank you for reading!
— Kelly J Hardesty
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© Kelly J Hardesty 2023