“I’m Gay”

Remember when personalized license plates came out? I do and I’ll tell you why.

I was a teen, living a country girl’s dream down on the family farm.  It was summertime and my days were spent riding my horse, swimming in the lake, and hanging with my cousins.  (When I wasn’t pulling weeds, cleaning the basement or helping in the kitchen, that is).

Mom, on the other hand, spent her days running Dad and my brothers back and forth to the field, serving meals, moving farm equipment, keeping up with the garden, and carting my hind-end to swimming lessons.

It was on one of those hot and dusty July days that she lost it.

L-O-S-T it.

Even though she loved living on the farm and said so often, she worked hard to carve out a semblance of a ladylike life in spite of the dust and the chores, the dirt and the animals.

She wore aprons. On Date Nights, she paired cute outfits with kitten heels. Her hair was up in rollers more than it wasn’t. She used her Nivea cold cream at night and her Avon lipstick samples by day, a favorite being “coral frost.”  I lingered when she dabbed a teeny bit of “L’air du Temps” behind her ears before they headed out for an evening.  She also didn’t hesitate to lug the 30lb canister vacuum across the yard and down to the barn; that’s where the nearest outdoor outlet was and, in turn, the only place she could clean out the Pontiac.

It was one of those sweltering summer days that Mom made a declaration, and it’s one I’ll never forget.

She’d worked hard to keep that car – burnt sienna in color – in immaculate condition.  She’d made the payments, not the farm. She kept the gas in it, not the farm.  It was hers and hers alone and, in the 1970s, that in itself was something to be said within earshot of impressionable girls, namely me.

She and Dad planned on watching their horse race later that night; Mom picked out a cute pantsuit and Dad assured her he’d be in from the barn with plenty of time for a bath, a shave, and the one hour drive to the city.

As was her habit, she was ready long before he was.  With his leather jacket and her evening sweater in hand, I watched her head out to the car.

It was then that she saw it: the dusty outline of my brother’s form imprinted on her velour-covered front seat. He had done the unthinkable:  He had taken her car to & from the field, traversing a dusty prairie trail (likely at full throttle) and, in the process, he’d left a mess.

I was in the kitchen, drying dishes. At the table sat my brothers, finishing up the last of their supper.  The clickety-click of her heels was unmistakable as she marched up the stairs and into the house. We turned to face her as she stood before us all, hands on hips, and announced, “I’m Gay.”

Confused, my brothers and I exchanged several wide-eyed looks.

Of course we knew that our Mother’s name is Gay, short for Gaynor, but none of us knew where this was going.

Somehow we knew enough to keep our traps shut.

Standing there, her patent leather shoe tap-tap-tapping the linoleum, she declared, “Yes. I’m Gay. I’m Gay and I’m going to have MY LICENSE plates on MY CAR changed to say EXACTLY that.  Then none of you will ever, ever have the nerve to take MY car out into a dusty field – or anywhere else – again.”

Not driving around with this on my car;

With that, she turned, shot my Dad the kind of look that only says “move it!”  He had the good sense to hustle.

Grandpa and Grandma’s 50th Anniversary; Mom’s rocking her red shoes & Dad’s sporting swanky pumpkin socks.

She never did go through with it, you know. She never had to.

Neither brother confessed but neither one ever took her car again, either.

Discussing Obama’s recent shift on same-sex marriage, her commentary didn’t surprise me, “It’s no skin off my nose; love is love.”

Then and now, she inspires me with her abundance of determination, good humor, tolerance and common sense.

 * * *

The greatest gift I’ve ever received … is a Mother who is happy to be one.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Family, Home, Life, Mom, Personal, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , | 41 Comments

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41 thoughts on ““I’m Gay”

  1. What a cute post! Oh, yes, those little Avon sample lipsticks! And I used to wear L’Air du Temps – such a wonderful fragrance.
    Have a good weekend!

    • Thank you, Dianna. It’s one of my (many) all-time favorite stories of her. She’s feisty & hilarious, small and mighty – like a stick of dynamite! Have a wonderful weekend yourself & Happy Mother’s Day to you 🙂 MJ

      • Funny you should say that: my mom’s given name was “Donnie”. As I was growing up, I thought her brothers were calling her “Mike”. One day I asked why they called her that. She said they were calling her “Mite”, because when they were kids, they called her “Donnie-mite” and shortened it to “Mite”. I may have to share that story on my blog one day….! Thanks for the memory – and the smile.

      • Ha! I love that – Donnie-mite 🙂 Please do write this story; I love it when you write about your Mom. MJ

  2. your mom rocks…why do I think you have some of her “spunk?” Growing up on a farm as well, I really love this story

    • I might have a little of her spunk 🙂 I’m glad you loved the story; it’s who she is — smart, determined, straight-forward and no-nonsense. Cheers! MJ

  3. Funny stuff. I’ll bet that your hubbs has seen a little bit of “Gay” from time to time through the years. 🙂

    • Oh yeah, he’s had his fair share and I know I’ve shot him the same look & he’s hustled – ha! He adores my Mom and has many of his own stories to tell. She loves him, too. The two of them together? Lord help me. MJ

  4. Quite frankly, I think this post is brilliantly perfect–especially in terms of timing. To be able to link Mother’s Day to the rhetoric of homosexuality this week is beautifully synchronistic. I LOVE this post!

    • This week’s events unfolded in such a way that I knew it was the right time to tell this story. This is who she is — dynamic, smart, inclusive and witty as hell. I love my Mom and she loves me back! Hugs to you- MJ

  5. This made me laugh. I love the farm imagery and I can even taste the Avon lipsticks. Although I expect the “I’m Gay” is already taken for someone else’s license plate by now. 🙂

  6. I love it! what a great mom story, too funny. What a woman!

  7. Spunky thing! I woulda triple dared her to do it 🙂

  8. I loved this story – especially the description of your mom.

  9. Full of that wonderful common sense, your mother is. Great peace of writing on so many levels about your mother, about the times…about the big picture we can recognize as family. Very funny story among several stories.

  10. Mj, this was lovely. My oldest sat with me, and I read it out loud. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  11. Great story, MJ. Thanks for sharing. I couldn’t help but smile as I read. Happy Mother’s Day.

  12. What great and fun memories! Reminds me of the women in my life.

  13. cooper

    A nice memory to share today.

  14. Those moms! You never know what they’re going to come out with next! Sounds like your mom knew how to hold her own, and you have that same ability. Good for both of you! And happy Mother’s Day to you and your mom…great women, thank you for sharing! ~ Sheila

  15. What a nice tribute for Mother’s Day. And the pictures are priceless.

  16. Yeah!!!! What a pistol, could be you take after a bit? or a LOT!

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