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What I learned from my mother

By Terresa Wellborn

My mom’s atypical. We love to hear the story when she was thrown out of the BYU pool in the 1960’s for wearing a bikini. Scandalous! She loved wearing miniskirts, too. She sat barefoot at the feet of Peter, Paul, and Mary — I grew up singing “Lemon Tree” to my front yard lemon tree. She also saw the Beatles in concert! And Elvis!

Over the years she’s worn a lot of hats. She was a flight attendant back in the day for TWA: to encourage poise they walked to the wingtips balancing books on their heads. She was a fashion model, a gardener, a seamstress, a tole painter, a bibliophile. And my mother.

She taught me invaluable lessons. She gave up her dream to be a school teacher to be a mother. She’s traveled the world and met U.S. Presidents. She’s a fierce genealogist. She made my prom dresses and wedding dress, piecing together patterns to make the perfect fit. And she bakes the best Texas Sheet cake ever.

I learned from my mother to let go softly a new puppy and watch it glory through spring-green grass. To listen. I learned to furrow garden dirt under the Mojave sun, scarab to the pool and paddle my legs straight as boxed spaghetti noodles.

To believe. To smooth a skirt pattern thin as skin, pin the edges, trim and stitch. To scallop a pie crust, wrap a turkey, pluck out teen angst and soothe it over ice cream. To decorate a birthday cake. Wrap dozens of banana bread loaves for friends and neighbors at Christmastime. French braid hair at six in the morning. Manage the maximum books on my library card (it’s fifty).

Not to text when you can call. Not to worry when you can read. How to drive a car. How to punch down dough, press it flat, cover it thick with cinnamon sugar, and eat it hot, the best rolls you’ll ever taste.

To check in, to love, to not hesitate. And when grandmother stopped speaking, I learned to call hospice, tongue absence like a missing tooth, carry on as dependable as the sun’s arc: to ray, to plummet, to rise.

Happy Mother’s Day mom. I love you.

What have you learned from your mother?

About Terresa Wellborn

Terresa Wellborn has been published in BYU Studies, Dialogue, and several anthologies including Fire in the Pasture, Monsters and Mormons, and Dove Song: Heavenly Mother in Mormon Poetry. She has a BA degree in English Literature and a MLIS degree in Library and Information Science. Her joys include her four children, books, and chocolate babka. She reads faster than she hikes, runs faster than she writes, and has often been mistaken for Miss Frizzle. When not on a mountaintop, she prefers to dwell in possibility.

1 thought on “What I learned from my mother”

  1. This is a beautiful post, you were very blessed to have such a wonderful woman to live with, guide you, and love you. Sadly we didn't all have those kinds of mothers; I grew up afraid, anxious, and hungry. However, from that experience I learned what I didn't want in my life for my future and tried to give a better life to my own children. I hope I taught them some good things.

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