The Bryan Kids 2014

The Bryan Kids 2014

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A tribute to my Mommy...

   Bettie Ann Schiaffino was quiet woman, in fact, she was an introvert to say the least.  But underneath her conservative outer layer, was a sarcastic smart a#$ dying to shine.  My mom was an incredible mother, and of course, like most people, I didn't realize how good she was, until it was too late.  Like so many other great people before her, and since, my mother was taken from this world way too soon.  My mother died of cardiac complications(congestive heart failure primarily) at the very early age of 52.  Every day, I ask myself, "What would mommy do?"  I long to have her here with me on this earth.  Her grandchildren will never know her. I can never ask all of the questions I need answered.  But somewhere deep inside me lives a little voice.  She speaks up if I listen very closely, and I am reminded what an incredible parent my mother was.  That small voice lets me know that my mother gave me the tools I need to survive in this world.  My mother helped make me the person that I am today.  That being said...she was also very funny.  I have so many stories of advice my mother gave me while I was growing up.  Some people who knew my mother would be startled by her nuggets of wisdom. Or maybe they wouldn't be at all.  In hindsight, I have no idea what other people thought of my mother.  Maybe she showed her slightly offbeat side to other people as well.  I may never know.  Please note, my mother and I fought like cats and dogs, we were like fire and ice.  We constantly battled while I was teenager full of angst  and such.  It is easy to look back fondly now, but at the time I felt like every other teenager and young adult.  Now I know with complete certainty, we couldn't get along because we were too much alike.  I love to picture us as being friends now, a truce being called over old battles.  I think we would be...Here are some of my favorite stories that involve my mother, and somehow explain why I am the way I am.
   It started early, as a child.  I can remember asking my mother the usual questions like "Mommy, what's that?"
Her response "a tree."  Me "why mommy?"   Her "because it doesn't know how to be a house."  My brother and I can both remember her asking out loud "How did I raise such sarcastic children??"  We would think to ourselves, and sometimes even say "I have no idea mommy :)" with a smile.  Later on, when I was teenager, and fighting the power, she told me things like "Yes, of course you can voice your opinion.  But this is not a democracy, this is a dictatorship, and I am the dictator."  At the time, this phrase infuriated me, now, it sounds brilliant.  Funny how motherhood and growing up can change your opinion.
   One conversation I remember vividly occurred around the age of 15 y/o.  I was wallowing in self pity and angst, and she shared something with me that I will never forget.  Simple common sense.  I wanted to know "why I was here??"  She said, "well I could let you sit here and wonder, in fact you are welcome to dwell on this question for a few weeks if you would like, but I can save you a lot of time.  It simply doesn't matter why...tomorrow, you will wake up, you will have to go to school.  You need to do well in school, so that you can go to college.  You need to go to college so that you can get a job that will pay your bills.  You need to pay your bills so you have somewhere to live.  Hopefully, somewhere along the lines, you will fall in love and have a family so that you have someone to share this every day journey with, but the rules remain the same. "  While it wasn't a perfect explanation, leaving out so many of the things I know she believed(she was a rather religious woman, so I know God played a huge part as well), it was a simple answer that I needed right then.  In the end, it is the simple truth, we wake up, and continue to trudge through life.  There are wonderful moments along the way, thank goodness, but a daily journey non the less.
        As I got older, she finally felt the need to have the "sex talk" with me.  It wasn't the sex talk most people would expect.  I know she knew that I knew the biology involved, so she simply cut to the chase.  This is what she said
"Listen, I don't want you to have sex until you get married, but I don't want you to get married until you are done with college, so you are going to have sex before then.  I have made peace with that, but just promise me one thing.  Make sure you are either old enough to take on the responsibilities of the consequences, or old enough to go get the birth control yourself, because I am not raising your baby."  My mother had a way of making sure that I feared her wrath, and I hope that I can do the same with my children.  Somewhere between fear and a huge respect is where I would like to land.
   When it came time to leave for college, I needed a summer job.  She was looking in the local paper, and said without even lowering the paper, "You know, the Hooters at the Landing is hiring"  Hoping I had misunderstood what my mother had just said, I questioned her.  "Did you just suggest that I get a job at Hooters?"  She lowers the paper so I can see her face "I think you could make up the gas money in tips easily."  Me "You actually want me to work for Hooters?"  Her "All I am saying is use them while you have them."  The paper went back up as if nothing out of the ordinary had been said at all.  After two pregnancies, and breastfeeding two children, I SO understand where she was coming from.  I would kill for my 18 y/o body now.  Of course, why should this request shock me, my mother wanted me to give stand up comedy a shot.  I mean, who's mom actually suggests that??
   Before I left for school, I had decided on nursing as a major.  My mother questioned my sanity at this choice.  She had been a nurse many moons ago, and had no idea why I could possibly want to give the career a shot.  I pointed out the flexibility, decent pay, constant demand, etc... Our conversation, while watching the show ER in the back ground, went something like this.

Her "So you are sure about this nursing thing, huh?"
me  "yeah, pretty sure."
her  "you know doctors can be a$%holes, right? And that you have to listen to don't like being told what to do by anyone."
me  "yes, I know.  Luckily, a lot has changed since you were a nurse"
Her "Ok, well promise me one thing...find yourself a med student that looks like this Carter guy, convince him the four hours a week he has to sleep, he needs to sleep with you, so that you might have some chance of paying off your school loans"
me  "sure???"

  Well Mommy, I didn't meet a med student, but I did marry an incredible man that loves me unconditionally.  Even with all of my quirks and sarcasm.  And I am trying to fulfill a promise to you with this blog.  You made me promise to write a book one day, and this is just the first step towards that experiment.  I love you still, and I think about you every day.  I hope I can be half the mother you were to us, and I wish I could go back in time and tell you that I know what an awesome job you did with us.

love your eternally grateful daughter,

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