It’s Mother’s Day :)

And Amazon Fresh just sent me a message saying my order of flowers to my mother was canceled. They did not give a reason. I know better than to use Amazon.

(Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. A new order of flowers is forthcoming, I promise. 🙂

The good news is Mom got her car back! It was stolen last week while she was singing and cantering at church at the San Diego Mission. She spent this past week with San Diego detectives and insurance claims, gathering stills from hidden cameras that caught the ‘person of interest’ in the choir room. All the while she was dealing with a cranky, reluctant priest who scolded her as he didn’t want publicity or to “alarm other choir members.”

I think when your car is stolen during Sunday Mass, it’s okay to alarm the choir members.

Mom said “I’ve learned all sorts of new vocabulary this week like ‘perpetrator’ and ‘vehicle.'”

As for the cranky priest, he’s new and they have even cantered together although they haven’t met officially.

Mom is going to introduce herself to him after Mass today.

She’s very happy to have her 2003 CRV car back that she’s owned for nine years. It was found in a parking lot in El Cajon. The detective took swabs of my parents’ DNA just in case they were the “perps,” trying to find a way to get a new car. (They weren’t.) But now it’s sitting back in the garage where it belongs. The thief left the garage door opener and her reading glasses, although he did take the clothes she was returning to Target and Macy’s.

She said, “I’m such a high-end shopper they got away with $150.00 worth of clothes.”

When my mother, Mary Janis Baker, was a little girl growing up in Mexico, Missouri, the family car was stolen from the driveway. They found it a few days later six blocks away with a note that said: “I’m very sorry I took your car. I needed a place to sleep for the night. I only used a little gas and I didn’t smoke any of the cigarettes.” 

I love that note. Who took that car way back in the 1940s? It must have been a town local or maybe somebody wandering through for a night or two. In those days, people left keys in the ignition with the doors unlocked, windows rolled down.

There was no note left in my mom’s CRV but it wasn’t trashed, which surprised the detective.

I remember once when our own family van was stolen from our driveway. Lucy was three and we were getting ready to go to school. We walked outside to an empty driveway and Lucy said, “Where did da car go, Mama?”

It was such a shock – where was the brown Toyota minivan with two carseats, babydolls, cereal bowls, juice cups, wipies, books, crayons, toys? Where? Sometimes I felt like I was driving a giant pinball machine the way objects would roll around and clink. We drove cross country in that van, camping next to behemoth campers with our little tent pitched on the ground in New Mexico or Kansas. Flannery read all of the Roald Dahl stories and Lucy read “George & Martha.”

The police found the van stripped in South Central weeks later and called it totaled. It set us on a path of bad car decisions over the next few years in our victim mentality and sleazy used car dealers who were not exactly forthcoming. It’s too depressing to talk about that on Mother’s Day, but what I remember most of all (and I had forgotten this until my mom reminded me) is that Flannery and Lucy slept in the front room right by the driveway the night the van was stolen. They were just feet away from the thieves. So we switched rooms and moved them into the back bedroom, and we moved to the front of the house.

I didn’t sleep for weeks after the crime. I remember thinking that I needed to stay awake in case something else bad was going to happen.

No logic. Frazzled nerves. Stir in self-pity, too, I’m sure.

But I loved my ESL students. Lucy went with me to that school where I taught in East LA. She attended preschool with the teen moms’ kids, and I taught the teen moms creative writing. It was my favorite class as those young mothers were writing as if their lives depended on it. I wish I had some of their poems to put up here today.

I remember that one was called “Where Do Birds Sleep at Night?” by Sally Thomas, whose son, Raymond, wanted to know where birds slept at night. Another one was a haiku about Frida Kahlo’s one eyebrow and it was not flattering. Oh, there were so many. So many of those teen moms rode the bus with their babies to get to school. Renee and Caron, their teachers, were the most loving mother-teachers, and I learned so much from them.

Lucy hated saying good-bye to me day after day even though I was only upstairs teaching, so every morning, Renee would have Lucy gather a fistful of my skirt and a fistful of Renee’s skirt in her little hand. Our skirts would be bunched up together in Lucy’s fist, and slowly Renee would tug out my skirt, but Lucy would still be holding onto Renee’s skirt, and then I could slip off to class.

Renee taught me to slow down as a mother and not rush the good-bye.

I even began taking Lucy up into the classroom, and one time I had a former gang member in my class with a large scar slashed across his face. Lucy was watching “Lamb Chop” on PBS on the classroom television. Then she looked up at Martin and came over and hugged him and said, “Hey Martin, how did you get that big scrwatch on your face?”

Martin said, “Don’t worry about it, Lucy.”

And he hugged her back.

Anyway, I want to wish my beautiful mother HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY. 🙂

How lucky am I to have her for a mother.


* * *

Mom with her granddaughters last year at Pancake House

Mom and girls and pancake house.jpg

* * *

And here is a picture of my mom and dad when they came to visit me in England, and I took them everywhere – England, Scotland, Ireland. My father earned his nickname, “Curby” because he hit every curb driving on the wrong side of the road in the UK, shifting with his left hand. My friend, Fiona, came along for part of the journey and whispered to me, “Your father is a most appalling driver.” Mom sat in the backseat and refused to look. Eventually, we were back on trains much to everyone’s relief. They were exhausted at this point – I think the relatives in Malin Head, Ireland had worn my dad out.

Mom and Dad in England.JPG

* * *

And I’d like to thank these three beauties for making me a mother.

kids.JPG* * *


norah on wuthering heights.jpeg

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers and to my sister, Keely, and to my seven sisters-in-law and my four sisters-in-law and to my own dear mother-in-law, Mama Frances, mother of thirteen children.

To Kiffen’s radiant sisters: Beanie, Nancy, Tomi, Teresa, Celina, Eppie, Sam, and our beautiful sisters-in-law too: Suzanne, Justine, Leta, and Heather. xxoo

Enjoy this video of my mother-in-law, Pope Frances, Family Pope.


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