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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Long live the Queen

Hollie Grimaldi Flores:
Columnist

I am missing my mom today. As much as I complain about what I define as the general “lack of parenting” I experienced in my formidable years, I am old enough now to understand my mother did her best. In her defense (defending her against my own bias), as I have learned more about the woman who raised me, I have found plenty of room for grace, and in truth, never doubted her love for me, only her ability to bestow critical life lessons.

As I watched the services held over the past couple of weeks following the passing of Queen Elizabeth, I am struck by similarities amidst the vast economic and power differences my mother shared with the Queen. Like the Queen, my mother was born in 1926 and like the Queen, my mother died in the month September. That would pretty much sum up the similarities, but I could stretch the point a bit and add, like the Queen, my mother was unprepared for the responsibilities that came with ruling a nation.

In my mother’s case, that nation was first as the ruler of her many younger siblings and later as the matriarch of her many offspring. My mother, who dreamed of working in the medical field, dropped out of middle school to take charge of raising her siblings when her father became ill, and her own mother was forced into the workplace. As a young teen, she watched her dreams fade away and replaced them with a longing to escape the responsibilities thrust upon her when she was far too young – though not particularly uncommon in rural communities in the early 1940’s.



Her escape came in the form of marriage to a friend of her brother’s, a good-looking Italian boy with whom she was smitten. The two married while in their teens and a couple of years later, she found herself raising a child of her own, followed by another and then another and another for a total of six children while she was still in her 20’s.

My understanding is that my paternal grandmother was not a fan of this protestant mutt of mostly English lineage who did not know how to cook or keep house who had managed to cast a spell on her precious boy.



I now realize my mother was given precious few tools in which to take on a household, let alone parent and simply did the best she could with what she able to muster. Her marriage was not a good one. My Dad was not great with business or money and managed to lose both. He was also not monogamous, and they divorced after a rocky 25 years.

I was still in single digits when my mom began to date and ultimately, she remarried when I was 10. I am quite sure Mom was “over it” by then and with most of my older siblings out of the house, I became an untethered teenager. I could have used some lessons in value, and I could have used some boundaries, but I am not certain she had those tools to share.

Still, through it all, I never doubted her love for me. I have many fond memories of special times when it was just my mom and me – because I came along 5 years after the sixth child, all my siblings were already in school the year I was born. As a result, I enjoyed the luxury of time alone with my mother — sometimes tagging along when she cleaned houses, relegated to one room where she sternly implored “don’t touch anything” and when she worked in retail, picking up her paycheck on her day off almost always ended with a toy for me, and on rare occasions when she would go to the hair salon and the ladies would put me under the giant hairdryer while they gossiped and commiserated. Only now do I realize that hairdryer was a means to keep my little ears from hearing that which was not meant to be heard! Clever!

I know I broke my mother’s heart a time or two and caused her more worry than she deserved. And I certainly took her for granted.

Now that I have managed to raise my own children and understand how hard that job is, it is so easy for me to see how much pain I caused her. But I also know I was, eventually, a source of pride.

It would be nice to be able to sit down with her and hear about the person she was before she was my mother. Before she was my mother, my mother was a young woman with dreams of her own. She was also rebellious and could also have used some lessons in her value and in boundaries. I know this because she once shared stories about skipping bible school to wander the backroads with friends. I know this because she had trophies on a shelf, she won racing stock cars. I know this because she married a teenage boy, a teenager herself, without the ability to “boil water” as they say, but nothing was going to get in her way.

It’d be nice to be able to give her a call now to ask about family lore and so many family mysteries that will remain unsolved as many of her siblings have passed on as well. It would be nice to know my mother, the person.

Like the Queen, my mother remained a bit of a mystery her entire life. Unlike the Queen, she would have been deemed among the lowest of classes in merry ol’ England, but in my world, she was royalty. It’s been ten years since I have had the opportunity to give her a call to tell her that. Really, I just miss my mom.

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at http://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com

Hollie Grimaldi Flores

 

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Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Long live the Queen

I am missing my mom today. As much as I complain about what I define as the general “lack of parenting” I experienced in my formidable years, I am old enough now to understand my…



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