My mother is a character. No really, she is. She’s appeared in many of my books—a comment here, a drop of wisdom there, and always, always an opinion. But it wasn’t until one of her church friends commented on the similarities between my mother and Simple Riches’ Stella Androvich, that Mom asked me about it. We live more than two hundred miles away from each other, so the phone provides our daily, sometimes twice daily connection.
“My friends say I’m that Stella lady in your book.”
“You mean, Stella from Simple Riches? Um,” I say into the phone, glad she can’t see my face. “Why would they say that?”
“Because she cooks from scratch like I do and feeds everyone. And she’s Italian. Oh, and even though her children are grown, she doesn’t hesitate to give them a piece or two of advice if she feels they need it.”
A piece or two? Mom offers it by the bucket. Advice is her specialty, solicited or not. “Well,” I say, curious to know if she’s happy or not to maybe have Stella Androvich patterned after her, “Do you think you are?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” Pause. “Stella makes homemade pasta just like I do. She makes bread, too, and chicken soup.”
Yup. “She’s a great character, Mom.”
Her voice softens. “I like her children. Oh, that Michael. He’s something else.”
She’s talking about Michael Androvich, the son who’s always getting in and out of trouble—usually of his own making. “Just wait until you see what happens to him, Mom.”
“Oh? What’s going to happen?” she asks, like we’re talking about one of her soap operas.
“You’ll see. He’s getting his own story. Remember the books about the guy with the secret family? He’s in that one. I called it A Family Affair: Fall.”
“Well, hurry up and write it. Who knows how much longer I’ll be here.”
“Mom.” My mother is eighty-five and a half, not to be confused with eighty-five. Heavens no. She wants everyone to know she’s almost eighty-six and very independent. She also wants us to know that she’s the matriarch of the family, which means she’s still calling the shots. Mom’s finally agreed to attend the Senior Citizen luncheon once or twice a week, and yes, has sent me the monthly menu selections for my reading enjoyment. But participating in activities and such? Well, Mom maintains that’s for “old” people.
“I’m sending you some very good articles,” Mom says. “Now, I know you’re busy with your book, but these won’t take long to read. Take them in the bathroom with you. There’s one on migraines, another on strengthening your core, and a good recipe for chicken with broccoli. Use the coupons I sent you, too.”
“Okay, Mom. Got it.” Mom not only clips the articles, but she writes side comments and usually a note to forward on to my sister or brothers. Most of the time I remember to do this because guilt won’t let me forget.
“Now don’t just throw them in a drawer. They’re good articles.” Pause. “Oh, someone’s at the door. Come in!” Muffled sounds and then my mother laughs. “My neighbor just brought me two quarts of fresh-picked blueberries. What am I going to do with all these berries? Guess I’ll be making a pie.”
And we are back on the subject of food and the pie Mom plans to make which I know she will give away. She only tastes a “sliver” to make sure she hasn’t lost her touch—of course she hasn’t. The rest of that mouth-watering, delicious blueberry pie goes to the neighbor across the street, the friend who drives her to the grocery store, the woman who takes her to church….and the giving goes on…just like Stella Androvich. I won’t tell her how I borrowed a few of her sayings and gardening tricks for one of my favorite character’s, A Family Affair’s, Pop Benito. I’ll let Mom discover that all by herself…or let the church ladies tell her.
Next week I’ll fill you in on my mother in the technology age…or not