One Good Mama One Bad Mama

One Good Mama and One Bad Mama

This is a tale of one good mama and one bad mama. I am the good mama.

My youngest son works at our local Ingle’s running the U-scan. That’s a grocery store. He’s worked there for 2 years earning spending money for college. I was buying groceries, and I did what I always do, stop to chat at the U-scan, and give him money for snacks. He was helping a woman who looked to be in her early 30s, and she got confused when he said goodbye. Was he talking to her?

“Oh, that’s my mom,” he said. “I’m just telling her goodbye.”

“That’s your boy?” she asked me.

She had blonde hair, was smallish in build, and if life had been kinder to her, she’d be stunningly beautiful. But, poverty was spread over her like a ratty blanket, and the lines on her face were too old for someone so young, not to mention the missing three front teeth.

“Yes, he’s mine,” I said, smiling and shaking my head. My goofball son was cracking jokes with the managers.

“You raised a good boy,” she said. “He treats me with respect, and is always kind to me. Some days, I come here because nobody else is ever nice to me, and I know he will be. He makes people feel like they matter.”

She had my full attention now. I’d been sort of half-talking to her. and half-watching my son. Her eyes were big and blue with a hint of the little girl she used to be. I grabbed her arm. “What is your name, please?”

“Amy. It’s Amy. Your son. You raised him good. You raised him right.”

That’s my son, alright. His heart is tender toward everyone. Especially those who are poor, who are overlooked, ignored, discounted. Oh, the friends he has brought home. Like lost puppies.  I was so desperately proud of him right then that I had to call a friend and brag on him. I also hugged Amy and cried standing in front of the automatic doors, so they kept opening and shutting while I was hugging Amy and crying.

I work in a store, too. A garden nursery that high end clients frequent. We’re busy making custom wreaths and swags and centerpieces for ladies who are having huge Christmas parties this weekend or next. Ribbon flies out the door, made up into festive bows: Bows for valences, mailboxes, mantles, gifts, light posts and tree-toppers. I listen to tales of just returning from England, or Italy, or France, or wherever, while I hot-glue red berries onto Fraser fir. It’s fun to pick out ribbon and colors for the garland, and chat while making up holiday greenery.

Today, a lady, about my age, who’d just moved to our mountain city from London, England was doing what I’d done the night before–bragging on her son–a college student at Fordham University who’d just scored a job on Wall Street.

“One thing is for certain,” she said, “He won’t come here.”

“Oh, why is that?” I asked.

“The rednecks, the uncouth ignorance that abounds below the Mason Dixon line. It’s too much for him. It’s really too much for me,” she said as if she was not insulting me, my family and every friend I ever had.

Because I prefer to keep my job, I kept my mouth shut and did not say what good Southerners say in that situation, “The road that brought you here will take you right back. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.”

Just FYI before I carry on with my little tale of good mom/bad mom here: We Southerners do not care what you think about us. We never have.

Here’s what I wanted to say to her, even more than how she could find her way back to bloody England, one good mama to one bad mama, “You did not raise your son right. You raised him to be unkind, to be disrespectful, to shun others who aren’t his “equal,” and to look past the person and only see their circumstances.”

And if I had really gone redneck on her, I’d have said, “So, you raised a snobby little brat, did ya?”

I didn’t say any of that because we’re in a recession and I need a job. But I am saying it now because I am proud of my son, and his ability to see Amy, and not just her circumstances. I am proud that he knows everyone is deserving of his respect, and that kindness can make a person’s day better. It can make them feel like they matter, because whether you live above or below the Mason Dixon line, you do matter. We all do.

So one good mama to one bad mama: I am proud of my son who isn’t on Wall Street, but is on the U-Scan at Ingle’s helping folks like Amy feel like they matter. Really, in the big picture of life, does anything else matter?




A Bit of Random (its hard living in my head)

So, today I stopped at the big, new grocery store about 20 minutes from my house. Same grocery store, Ingles, that I shop at in my small town, but they had a bigger field (old farm) to build this one on, and so they maxed it out. I found it terribly confusing, and I had a hard time deciding whether to ditch the carb diet and go for a sub at the Boar’s Head Subway-like counter, or stick with my Starbucks tea. I went for with tea. It was $4.22.Wanna bet they’d charge me $4.22 every time? Cause they are snazzy? They had tvs everywhere, and families were eating their dinner in the cute cafe-like spot next to the Starbucks. They even had big, coffee shop overstuffed chairs near the Starbucks.

But, they had the produce and the dairy together.

I don’t like that.

So nix on them until I forgo the carb diet, and then I’ll splurge on a Boar’s Head sub, but get my tea at my Starbucks. My Starbucks charged me $3.12 yesterday. Cha-ching.

Then, I spent a ton of time on-line killing time. Or not. Depending on whether you consider it career enhancement. That’s what I’m calling it (as opposed to stalking or laziness, take your pick). Check this place out. Flora Grubb’s Garden Shop in San Francisco. The chick’s name is actually Flora Grubb.

Why did my parent’s not have the foresight to give me a cool name like that? Surely they not knew I’d end up a horticulturalist with a huge passion for anything called a plant. Because you know her stuff is that cool because her name is that cool. She got the design gene the minute her parents said, “Its Flora, Flora Grubb.”

I want to work for her, but what would I say? My name is Cinthia Milner? I can’t bring myself.

I have a friend whose husband did the 50 year old thing on a massive scale. Grew out his hair, hangs with the yogis and changed his name. Changed it to, are you ready for this? LL Peace (the LLs stand for Light and Love). I so wish I was kidding.  Every once in awhile I get on his facebook to see what ole LL Peace is up too. Now, that is simply stalking. I also take it a bit personally because I adore LL Cool J, and I think he stole his moniker. His ex-wife moved to England. Who can blame the woman? I am considering a visit, although I don’t know her all that well, so again, it would be, “Hi, its Cinthia. Cinthia Milner?”

My name gets me no where.

It was 68 and rainy today, and all day I kept thinking, I should be wearing my Wellingtons. Yes, I bought Wellingtons. I work outside in a rain forest. What’d you expect? And, yes, they were a lot of money. (150 if you’re wondering.)

For some reason that last sentence came out with a bold font. I have no idea why.

And, grocery store is highlighted to Wikipedia in the first sentence. Again, not a clue. WordPress just sometimes does its own thing. Which frankly, is disturbing.

My neighbors on one side of me have awesome landscaping.

My neighbors on the other side of me do not.

Since I’m in the middle, I’m waffling.

Today, I went along with this conversation that made me uncomfortable. I was uncomfortable because since I came to know Jesus (almost 30 years ago), everything about me has changed. But now, I am working again for the first time in 20+ years.  And, work is very different now. People feel free to talk about things that, well, are a bit on the vulgar side. I didn’t say anything during the conversation, i.e. I didn’t contribute, but I also didn’t stop it or walk away. I just stood there feeling strange and embarrassed and sad because shouldn’t I be a better Christian by now? 

I think so.