Some “facts”* about Pamela Kay Madden neé Myers.
- Her favorite flower is the daisy. The daisy? “It’s always been the daisy,” she told me recently. “It’s always been the daisy.”
- She was at one time in the 1980s the president of what was either called “the Ladies Auxiliary of the Herndon Jaycees” or, more regrettably, “the Jaycettes”.
- She read 100 books last year. She read 100 books last year!
- She’s not Pamela Kay Madden Meiners.
- As a child she had a traumatic experience with a chicken or rooster and now we both hate birds.
- The day after my 10th birthday when only one of my seven invited friends showed up for my party she wrote me a cheer-up rap that she performed over a breakfast of chocolate-chip pancakes.
- One time she was hit on by Joe Theisman neé /THEEZ-man/ and the whole time was having none of it.
- She took me to the J.C. Penney to buy royal blue sweats when I peed my jeans playing a really good game of Super Mario Bros. in the arcade of the Jefferson Mall in Washington, Pa.
- As a Jaycette, she got known for having a knack of taking popular songs and changing the lyrics to be more topically amusing. This led to our sheet-music copy of Johnny Marks’s “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” getting alternate words written in penciled cursive on the score—e.g. Nixon where Vixen was originally.
- She likes to attribute whatever music know-how I have to her private genes. (My dad to my knowledge can’t much carry a tune.)
- I don’t know the color of her eyes but I’d put if forced to my money on brown.
- She grew up in a room without a door.
- Once, after she graduated from California High, she ran off to upstate New York to live with relations, just to not have to be in Coal Center, Pa., anymore. Around that time, also in upstate New York, Max Yasgur let a bunch of hippie kids on his farm to throw a 3-day rock concert where Sha-Na-Na performed “At the Hop”. My mom was not there. “I don’t know,” she told me once when I protested this fact. “It never occurred to me to go.”
- She swears. Once on the phone she said, “Oh shit, Dave!” in anger when I got her good on April Fool’s Day 1997.
- She hates magic. She’s sort of angrily terrified-slash-dismissive of the whole artform.
I’ll end here. My favorite story to tell about my mother is this one: Once, way back when I and my two sisters were living at the Herndon house (possibly even my grandfather, too), we were all sitting down to dinner in the kitchen. It’s impossible to fit six people in this kitchen. This kitchen, for instance, was the size of several friends’ walk-in closets. And yet, here’s the memory: it’s a pasta dinner. Assuredly just plain-old spaghetti with tomato sauce. My mother (who, bless her heart, made few if none of my meals growing up) was wearing a white blouse, spelling for herself total danger given the slurpiness and slippery quality of any stringy pasta. She sat down last to the table. She grabbed from the wooden holder I made in shop class at the center of the table a single napkin. She tucked one napkin’s corner into her collar. None of us was eating at this point. Each of us was watching closely. With fine finesse and great, great care my mom spread with steady hands her napkin across her torso, assuring maximum coverage. Satisfied, she tucked in to dinner. We’re at this point all still watching her. To her mouth she brought her fork full of pasta. She took a bite, and the last bit of pasta-tail whipped toward her lips, flipping a light bead of sauce right at her shoulder. It landed millimeters away from the safe side of her napkin’s edge. My mom saw where the sauce drop landed. We all saw where the sauce drop landed. Each of us—Jenny, Shani, Dad, and I—exploded in laughter. My mom hung her head. It was the very best thing that could have happened.
Such has been the fate of my mother, of all mothers maybe. She raised a brood of whipsmart kids ready to pounce. And she married one too, for better or worse. So now she receives from each of us so much jokey haw-haws because it’s the easiest way we’ve found to mitigate how much we love her, and how hard and heavy this helpless, unending love for her weighs on us every damn day.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I’ll see you soon.
* Most facts assuredly misremembered. At least one was just plain made up.